COLUMN: Season of giving is upon us

NANAIMO - This holiday season there is a lot of need in the community.

The season of giving is upon us.

Sometimes it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Often people feel pulled in several directions. Commitments pile up with holiday. Everywhere a person turns, there seems to be an invite for a work event or a friend’s party.

The shopping centres are packed with people trying to get their holiday presents.

It seems people are on edge even when they pass you in the aisles at stores, more interested in running you over than offering a smile. Tempers flare as people lose their patience in line, at the till and in the parking lot.

This season it seems like people are a little grumpy. I’ve been guilty of being grumpy myself. I’ve tried not to take it out on other people, but every once in a while it slips out no matter how much I try to keep it in and tell myself that person really didn’t do anything wrong – just breathe and relax.

Sufficed to say I need to breathe and relax a lot more.

During the holidays it is also a time of need.

When I look around in the community I see so many organizations looking for help to get others through tough times.

It’s sad to think that a kid could wake up on Christmas morning and not have a present.

However, it’s heartbreaking to think that a kid could wake up and not have food for the day.

The food bank is getting more clients trying to make ends meet, and the Salvation Army is also trying to help people out during the holiday season.

With so much need around it’s hard to say no. But, it’s OK to say no. There is a lot of pressure for people to give during this season.

Yet, not everyone can afford to give.

Times are tough for everyone, and working families are seeing their buying power diminish with increases in taxes and prices.

Yet, wages remain frozen for many people. It means more money is going out the door with little left for everyday necessities.

There is a lot of pressure to give and not everyone can afford to give money.

But perhaps a few hours of volunteer time could be a way a person can contribute during this season of giving.

I know I feel guilty every time I pass a Salvation Army kettle. Those volunteers braving the cold, sometimes merrily ringing their bells in the rain, make me want to give. Yet, if I gave every time I passed a kettle, I would be in desperate need and would push myself into debt. Even if I have already given, I still feel bad every time I pass.

This year I didn’t put any money in the kettles.  Although, I have dedicated a little time to stand by one and ring the bells.

I chose this year to band together with my fellow News Bulletin co-workers and sponsor one family.

There are many organizations this time of year giving Christmas hamper packages to clients or people they know.

It’s sad to think people don’t have enough money to buy even the most basic things I have in my home.

A few casserole dishes, a set of plates, kitchen utensils. These don’t seem like luxury items. Yet, to some people, they aren’t at the top of the list when it comes to spending their money.

They are more concerned about the rent and food. Heat could be another optional luxury because with hydro rates climbing and many people on electric heat, those winter bills can be too much to tackle.

This holiday season I hope people give what they can afford – whether it’s money, time or maybe just a moment to stop and ask how a person is doing.

A smile and hello can make a big difference in a person’s day, especially in these stressful times.