EDITORIAL: Seasonal charity

Thanksgiving week turns attention toward annual appeals for charity gifts for scores of causes but especially those focused on poor children and Christmas celebration.

Concern this year focuses on generous private giving for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Donations continue because thousands in Mississippi – most who would not normally require special assistance – remain in dire straits. Housing, jobs, clothing – all the basics remain uncertain. Katrina giving must continue.

Children and Christmas

Local seasonal efforts fill the need, admittedly created by American culture, for children to experience Christmas in receiving dreamt-of gifts. The magic of Santa Claus and belief in him is no less prevalent among children whose parents lack the means to deliver such gifts, so instead the community is called upon to dispense that magic for them.

This year, the Salvation Army's Angel Tree has 1,500 names – a huge number of 12-and-under kids whose Christmas delight depends on people besides family.

The Family Resource Center in Tupelo places its effort toward Christmas for adolescents. Other Christmas-season organizations include the Tupelo Children's Mansion, Saltillo Shining Stars, Heats in Motion, Operation Interdependence (for overseas soldiers) and Mississippi State Hospital, whose 1,500 patients largely depend on seasonal gifts through charitable organizations. (See page 11A of the Nov. 20 Daily Journal for telephone numbers). Others solicit assistance in other Northeast Mississippi communities and counties.

Other organizations need year-end gifts simply to sustain operations, and they are found in every community in Northeast Mississippi.

An annual report on charitable giving, released during the weekend, cites Mississippians as the most generous people in the nation in proportion to income. Part of that comes from clearly defined religious convictions about charity; some of it surely comes from successful people who grew up in poverty or deprivation.

Even though many people are financially stretched thin in the wake of storm relief, most can find room in their budgeting for one more measure of generosity.

More than usual, this year's seasonal gifts are important.

To join an online discussion of this topic, log on to www.djournal.com, or respond at opinion@djournal.com for publication as a letter to the editor.

Click video to hear audio