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Eat a few popsicles this month and make yourself a hero.

You can donate the sticks to a worthwhile nonprofit group, extending your Christmastime and holiday giving of gifts to an organization in need.

OK, seriously, we're pretty sure that when Mattoon I ERBA Head Start asks for "art sticks -- popsicle sticks," they mean for folks to go to a local store and purchase them from the craft section.

But still -- it's really that easy to give to area nonprofits this season, and year round.

The root of the tradition of giving at Christmas goes back to the belief that Jesus Christ gave humanity the ultimate gift -- his life to wash away our sins. Christians offer gifts to family members, friends and others at this time of year as part of that tradition.

Also during the holiday season, many people look for ways to share their good fortune and help others who have less. That's why the JG-TC annually prints a list of area nonprofits and their Christmas "wish lists"; the compiled list appears today on page D1.

You'll find that monetary gifts are welcome, but just as important is the gift of time -- the need for volunteers.

Not everyone has extra money to spend to help the less fortunate, but almost anyone can carve out some time to volunteer, and the wish list today includes a wide range of needs that can fit into all types of schedules.

Assistance requested ranges from volunteers who can play music or help Special Olympians train to those with a Certified Food Handler's license or people willing to help with pioneer cooking and visitor interpretation at the Five Mile House.

Material goods requested range from plastic grocery bags to clothing, tools, trash bags, paper goods, pots and pans and -- of course -- cash so that organizations can buy what they need, when they need it.

Givers surely can find a group whose philosophies they support out of all those listed today, too. Christian groups who help all people in need are included, as are nondenominational organizations who offer the less fortunate food, clothing and more. Arts and entertainment are represented, as are historic sites, help for the elderly, the homeless, and so much more.

These are worthy organizations that help make the Mattoon-Charleston area a great place to live. Without them and the strong support they traditionally receive from local residents, we all would feel the void left behind. Not all communities are as lucky as ours to have such solid nonprofit sources of help, and such robust backing from area residents.

We encourage everyone to give of their resources -- be they time, goods or money -- this season and all year long to the nonprofit groups of their choice. Good causes of all kinds need people's support. Christmastime is a great time to get started with volunteering, for example, and find a niche to give year round.

Spread the Christmas message and holiday cheer with your gifts this year and beyond, and you'll surely find that giving to others benefits you as much as it does them.

-- JG-TC Editorial Board


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