Opinion: People in the Ark-La-Tex Without A Safety Net Need Our Help This Christmas Season

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During the Christmas season, take time to remember the people less fortunate in the community. You may know of someone who needs help, but is afraid to ask.

Columnist: Take some time to see what you can do this Holiday Season for the most vulnerable in our community


Amidst all the bows and wrapping with beautiful gold ribbon, it is easy to forget about the true meaning of Christmas. Sure, most of us think about wanting to help people in our home or work neighborhoods, but finding the time and willpower to actually do something takes energy that is in short supply as we shop for gifts and prepare for Christmas parties.

But for the needy, disadvantaged and lonely, the Holiday Season can be a sad, troubling time of the year. That is why I have decided to try and step out of my comfort zone and give to others in my small community this Christmas. I hope you will do it, too.

Nursing homes, assisted care facilities, shelters are filled with many people in need. Some of these issues are met by medical care and church members, but others go untended. I am planning to take some time to visit the nursing home where my grandfather once lived to visit with the residents and take some Christmas treats.

Charities and charitable events do a great deal of good in offering help to those who need, and the number of charities is quite large. But many people who need assistance don't really know how to get the help they need from various charities, and we could try to help them do it. In Shreveport, the documented number of homeless people in Shreveport shows a continuing problem of people living without a home right here in the Ark-La-Tex according to recent reports. However, other people that we might know in our neighborhoods are on the brink of homelessness and are staying on couches of different friends or family to get by.

A quick drive down certain streets in our area quickly shows that there are people in immediate need, and we should do what we can to help them immediately or direct them to a government or charity that can help them right now.

But there are some folks who may need only a smile or a wish of cheer, and this is something all of us can do right now. I am going to make a point of really reaching out beginning today. Of course, other people need more than smiles and warm wishes, but they are likely afraid to ask. For me, I am going to look through my address book and reach out to some people who I haven't spoken with in a while who might appreciate it and need the social contact. I can think of three people without even looking at my contacts, and I bet you can, too.

It's not just people who need our help, our area animal shelters are bursting at the seams with cats and dogs who are among the kindest and sweetest animals you will find anywhere. What better gift for a family than a loving, loyal pet who needs you? Our family has adopted three rescue dogs, and we still have two of them after finding a loving home for the other one. However, I am going to try and find some other families who need a pet, so the animal shelter will have room for another animal. By rescuing one dog or cat, you will likely save two.

Helping people in our area need not be expensive. A quick call to the nearby homeless, pet or church shelter can offer a myriad of giving ideas. Homeless and rehab shelters constantly need blankets, underclothes, socks and stretch gloves. Other inexpensive gift ideas include bath soap, shampoo unscented body lotion, wet wipes, dental care items, hand sanitizer and other personal care items.

Multi packs of festive lunch sacks can be purchased at a reasonable price and small personal care items can be placed inside the sacks to make a cheery gift. The addition of a simple bow to the sack and a tag with a general holiday greeting can help to make the recipient feel special, cared for and loved.

Another gift idea that costs nothing is your time - whether it involves only an hour or several hours scattered over the holiday season. People in need require reassurance and often crave social contact.

Busy caregivers can often offer only limited contact as they have many cases on their rosters. A short engaging conversation, kind words of encouragement and the simple presence of another human can be an affirming and uplifting experience for all involved parties.

So while you're out shopping for something for that nephew, co-worker or mother-in-law, consider picking up a few things for those who may not receive any type of holiday gift at all. If money is short for you too, think about giving some of your time to someone in the Ark-La-Tex who needs it.

The Ark-La-Tex community is widely known as a charitable and friendly community. Even though I do a few things for people in need every year, I always say I am going to do more. But there will be no more excuses this year. I am going to do several things that each make a small difference in my neighborhood this Christmas. I hope you will, too. Ark-La-Tex.com

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Ark-La-Tex.com News: Opinion: People in the Ark-La-Tex Without A Safety Net Need Our Help This Christmas Season
Opinion: People in the Ark-La-Tex Without A Safety Net Need Our Help This Christmas Season
During the Christmas season, take time to remember the people less fortunate in the community. You may know of someone who needs help, but is afraid to ask.
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