Our Views: Generosity helps brighten holidays in our communities

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A late Thanksgiving is changing the dynamics for local charities that rely on holiday donations.

For example, if you wait until Thanksgiving week to cut a check for the Janesville School District's “Delivering Bags of Hope” project, you'll be too late. The deadline for donations is Friday.

If you've been to stores around Janesville, you know Salvation Army bell ringers have been out for two weeks.

Thanksgiving this year is Nov. 28, leaving fewer days between it and Christmas. So the “giving season” is already in full swing. That doesn't make generosity automatic.

Last year, the school district raised more than $43,000 for Bags of Hope. The district hopes to match or top that, but numbers released Tuesday showed it had raised just $13,000. For many years, United Auto Workers Local 95 conducted this food drive. This is the fifth year the district has sponsored it with great support from the city, Seneca, Woodman's and Landair. An army of volunteers is needed to bag and deliver groceries starting at 7 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at Landair's warehouse, 2900 Beloit Ave.

Residents have many options for donating to causes throughout the holidays. Here are three other key ways to give:

-- Bell ringers topped last year's goal and raised $345,000, but the Janesville Salvation Army hopes to collect $365,000 this year. The increase reflects rising demand for the charity's services. Bells started ringing Nov. 11, and the agency hopes to find volunteers to fill spots at 24 Janesville stores from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily except Sundays. The drive makes up much of the Salvation Army's annual budget. Last year, the charity served 18,000 people, one of every five residents of northern Rock County.

-- ECHO, or Everyone Cooperating to Help Others, will again distribute Thanksgiving food baskets. They cost $30 apiece, and the church-sponsored charity hopes to give them to a record 2,500 people. ECHO will also brighten Christmas with meals and toys for needy families. It needs volunteers starting at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Craig Center on the Rock County 4-H Fairgrounds to assemble and distribute baskets. Baked cookies and bars—cut into servings—can be sealed in plastic bags and dropped off by noon Friday at ECHO or between 7 and 10 a.m. Saturday at the fairgrounds.

Also, ECHO is accepting new, unwrapped toys and needs volunteers to distribute them Friday, Dec. 20. Call Fran Brien at 608-754-5333 to help. ECHO's Christmas Day meal, open to everyone, will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at St. William Catholic Church, 1820 Ravine St.

-- The Good Samaritan Fund is sponsored annually by The Gazette and radio stations WCLO and WJVL. Contributions go to the Salvation Army and ECHO to provide food baskets to the needy during the holidays.

Generosity helps make Janesville and northern Rock County a great place to live and raise families. Please help make the holidays merry for those less fortunate.

Last updated: 4:58 pm Wednesday, November 20, 2013

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