>Get your family involved in giving

   Our most needy are being hurt the worst.
   It's troubling to read the story on page 5 regarding the difficulty our local charities are having in light of the weakened economy, the ever-growing competition for charitable dollars, and the vast resources that went east with the Sept. 11 terrorist acts.
   Certainly our causes are feeling the pinch here at home, and on Main Streets across the United States.
   This Christmas season is a perfect time to fight back.
   Two of the programs mentioned in the story are the United Way and the Boys and Girls Club.
   The United Way is a tremendous organization on many fronts. On the surface, it provides administrative work while raising money for many organizations that often don't have the expertise or manpower to field fund-raising efforts of their own. The United Way also contributes to a wide range of worthwhile programs; your contribution dollars fan out to help strengthen the foundation and mend the safety net at the base of our community.
   Another outstanding, community-building program that depends on contributions is the Boys and Girls Club. Locally, regionally and nationally, the club has been slammed by a tightening economy and the increased competition for charitable contributions. Corporate contributions are dwindling throughout the fund-raising world as well.
   Since its inception the Madras-based club has enjoyed contributions from the school district and county government, which eventually earmarked a good share of its family services budget for the club. Due to their own financial issues, both entities had to pare back what it could give the club this year.
   The local club organization has had to be creative with its fund-raising efforts. Through the efforts of many, the club is sponsoring its first annual Evening Elegance dinner and auction Saturday at the fairgrounds. Some fantastic auction items -- including Rose Bowl, Mariner and Blazer packages, plus overnight stays at lodges and motels -- have been garnered. For further information, see the advertisement on page 3.
   There's no doubt the the United Way, Boys and Girls Club, and many other local charity-dependant organizations are of monumental value to our community. But that doesn't change the economic reality, or the fact that prioritizing is part of giving.
   During tough times, we cannot forget those less fortunate. Our penchant for taking care of each other is a large part of what makes us a great nation. During this season especially, we need to remember our local charities and social organizations which pull up our community by its bootstraps.
   Wife and husbands, mothers and fathers, make it a pact that you'll each forgo a gift and instead give that money to a worthy local cause. Get your kids involved: have them donate toys to the Kiwanis Operation Rudolph or maybe their allowance to the United Way. Teach them to be charitable.
   This Christmas, give a present to your community. Let's do what we can.
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