In recent months, reports about the economy have begun to swing in a more positive direction, with tax revenue for essential service, growing and local jobs increasing.

Nevertheless, this community still faces difficult times. Crook County’s unemployment rate remains the second-highest in Oregon and still seems to be dropping slowly. Meanwhile, we continue to battle homelessness and hunger as people still struggle to make ends meet.

Tough times call for the help of others and the current holiday season presents a great opportunity for people to give a hand up to those who are less fortunate.

People could start with the Holiday Partnership. With more than 300 volunteers from a variety of civic and social service groups and local businesses involved, citizens can donate food boxes and gifts to families throughout the holiday season. People are even welcome to join the volunteer effort.

This weekend, residents can spend money on Christmas-related decorations while supporting local charitable causes. The annual Christmas Hospice Auction sells a variety of synthetic trees, elaborately decorated with different themes from Western and hunting, to military in support of the event’s “Christmas on the Front” theme.

The fundraiser helps St. Charles Hospice care for its patients by paying for health insurance, and provide massage therapy for pain management and volunteer enrichment for patient companions.

The same day, people are invited to attend the local Philanthropy Education Organization’s (PEO) Christmas bazaar. Visitors can purchase everything from craft items like ornaments, home décor, purses, and wall hangings, to baked goods and candy.

The event helps the PEO fund scholarships for young local women who wish to continue their education. A story on this event can be found in today’s newspaper on page A3.

Charity opportunities don’t end with organized events either. Local residents can donate to local food banks, and a variety of other organizations from St. Vincent de Paul of Crook County to the Soroptimists International of Prineville. The local Eagles and Elks clubs also regularly accept donations.

As Brenda Comini, an organizer for the Holiday Partnership, said, the holiday season is an amazing time for the community to open their hearts. We agree, that this time of year, more than any other, people embrace the spirit of giving and have more opportunities to do so.

We encourage citizens, as they participate in the holiday season, to keep people who are less fortunate in our community in mind, and give what you can. As the cliché goes, ‘tis the season.

Contract Publishing

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