Just to assure there is no misunderstanding, the Standard Democrat will again sponsor the annual Community Christmas Campaign this year but in a smaller version and with much greater accountability. As some may recall, we have discussed the annual holiday campaign for months now and involved several community leaders in those discussions. The general tone is that far too many people take advantage of not just this program but a wide array of other worthwhile programs.
Those who "abuse" the Christmas Campaign involve families who have been recipients of the holiday cheer for years and years. We understand perfectly that some people will virtually always remain in need of assistance. And our hearts truly go out to those residents. But the "abuse" comes when people who could provide for their own needs but choose an irresponsible lifestyle apply for the program. First, that keeps truly needy families out in the cold and it means that in some ways, this program has been a part of a system that promotes an irresponsible lifestyle. Our sincere hope is to eliminate those chronic abusers and to identify those sincerely in need. It will be no easy task.
This year's program will be downsized to accommodate only those who have been identified as truly in need because of unusual or one-time circumstances. Neither this newspaper nor any service group or government agency will accept applications. We will identify families in need through referrals only. So there is no need for any family to "apply" for a Christmas basket.
We will miss some in need. We know that. But through this process, we will also eliminate those who seek assistance while they spend their limited resources for items and entertainment while ignoring the needs of their families. If we allow this population to dominate the program, we become part of the problem and not part of the solution.
But let there be no doubt. We still need your donations. Even with a limited number of baskets this year, the financial needs remain at a high level. And in the unlikely event that funds remain after this year's campaign, we will donate those proceeds to others who help the needy throughout the year. In short, this newspaper is getting out of the charity business and instead is lending a helping hand to those who do this on a daily basis.
As a community, we should take pride in the Christmas Campaign. Our efforts have resulted in thousands of families receiving assistance through the years. And we enter this year's campaign with the same drive, determination and spirit as in the past. But changes in our community force us to be more selective. On the one level, that's a sad occurrence. And yet, by narrowing the focus of the campaign, we can give you added assurance that the abuses of the past will not be repeated.
So here we are. A week away from Thanksgiving and five weeks away from Christmas. We will find those families in need and we will help them this holiday season. But as usual, nothing can begin until we hear from you and begin receiving your donations. Send donations to the Community Christmas Campaign, P.O. Box 62, Sikeston, MO 63801 or drop them by our office. School kids have already collected thousands of canned good to launch the drive and the Sikeston Jaycees have kicked-off the campaign with their annual donation.
We're ready. We need to hear from you.