We see them everyday just like you do. And often we try to ignore them. They are the poor among us. Quite honestly, we're sometimes angered by them. We wonder why they don't work since many appear healthy and certainly young enough to work. We look at the classified ads in this newspaper and we see hundreds of jobs available. Yet they remain jobless and poor and dependent on others.
But once you look beyond the adult poor, there are children. Regardless of their circumstances, these children deserve a Christmas filled with joy and food and warm clothing and toys. We find ourselves trying desperately to ignore the problems of the parents and focusing on the plight of the children. That, we believe, is the spirit of Christmas.
I know what you see and what you think and what you feel. We've had those same feelings. It would be simple to say "To hell with them if they choose not to work." But by doing so, the children suffer. And so the 22nd Community Christmas Campaign continues in a small way to improve the lot in life for hundreds of Sikeston children this holiday season.
I find myself complaining about the irresponsible parents in our community on a daily basis. Yet for one small moment in time, we are forced to ignore that frustration and gear our efforts toward the children. Perhaps this perpetuates the cycle of dependency and irresponsibility. Yet at the same time, it's most certainly the right thing to do. And so we shall.
School children in Sikeston have already raised over 10,000 canned goods to be distributed this holiday season here. Toys by the score have been donated. Bicycles - new and shiny - have begun to arrive at our offices. Volunteers who help deliver the Christmas cheer have put their names on our list of helpers. And yet our task has only just begun.
As the annual holiday campaign gears into action we know you'll set aside your frustrations just as we do. You'll hopefully reach into your pocket or purse and join in this community effort. And you'll do so because of the children. Quite frankly, I argue with those who claim overwhelming numbers of homeless and hungry are among us. I recognize that these twin plagues do indeed exist but I question the numbers. And I have some basis for that disagreement.
Regardless of the numbers however, I do know that poverty - by some definition - abounds in Southeast Missouri and I do recognize that Christmas will not arrive for many without your help. And we're asking for that help today.
Please take just a moment to consider the Community Christmas Campaign. Read elsewhere in today's paper about the families in need. And like us, put your frustrations aside for just a brief period and help the children of those in need. A toy, a new sweatsuit, a pair of gloves all will go a long way. A financial donation will buy happiness, if only briefly.
We sincerely thank those who have already donated. We thank the individuals and services organizations, the churches and clubs. Join in this effort this holiday season. Our campaign cannot and will not change our community overnight. But it will bring joy and laughter for at least a day. That alone makes it worthwhile.