SIKESTON -- After the tragedies of Sept. 11, many local residents answered the call when asked to donate blood, money and other items for the victims of the attacks.
Unfortunately, however, there is also a need closer to home to help those less fortunate celebrate Christmas.
For over two decades, the Community Christmas Campaign has been helping brighten the holidays for those families who are less fortunate. This year as part of the Campaign, 250 families, which includes 50 senior citizens, will receive blankets, hams and more food than they can consume in a week. Children will also get clothing items and at least one toy.
While the Standard Democrat leads the campaign into its 22nd year, names of those in need are not taken by the newspaper.
Instead, recommendations are given from area organizations. This year's recommendations show needs from many area residents. Now it depends on local businesses and the public to help meet those needs.
"Year after year, Sikeston residents respond to the many requests of needy families," said Michael Jensen, publisher of the Standard Democrat. "Many times these requests are for just simple things like a blanket, gloves for their children and food for a Christmas meal.
"Each year we find even more families seeking help through the Community Christmas Campaign and we will depend even more on you and your neighbors to help meet these needs."
One way in which the needs are met is by the selling of paper Christmas trees to individuals who wish to be a "Santa's Helper." Last year was the first year for the trees, which sell for a dollar. It generated $700 for the Community Christmas Campaign last year with the money used to cover the incidentals that arise during the Campaign.
Anyone who wishes to purchase a tree can find one at FasGas, FasGas Express, Bo's Jewelry, Personal Expressions and the Standard Democrat. The trees will be on sale through Dec. 19 when the Christmas Campaign baskets are delivered.
Besides selling the trees, many businesses and groups help by collecting toys and canned goods. This year, SADD has collected over 10,000 canned goods for use in the Christmas Campaign.
Tim Jaynes, who is directing the Community Christmas Campaign for the Standard Democrat, said the one great need this year is toys.
"On Cue has stepped aboard this year by having a Toys for Tots campaign," Jaynes said. "And the Bootheel Golf Club's Men's Association also held a golf tournament to collect toys."
This year the Santa Claus Open brought in over 200 toys for the Christmas Campaign.
"We just want to support the local community," said Dave Huntsman, member of the Bootheel Golf Club's Men's Association. "The fundraiser is getting so big we can't get the toys out in a timely manner. We look forward to partnering with the Community Christmas Campaign. Hopefully we can make this a two-day tournament to get even more toys in the future."
There are also more things to be done besides collecting toys, canned goods and raising money.
"There is still a lot of work to be done," Jaynes said. "We still have to put a boxes together and much more before we can deliver the baskets Dec. 19."
Anyone wishing to help with the campaign in any capacity is asked to call the Standard Democrat. Case descriptions can be found in the Wednesday and Sunday editions of the Standard Democrat until Dec. 15.