During Christmas time,
giving should be easy


Groups that help the less fortunate are eager to raise donations this holiday season, but some are facing obstacles.

THE Christmas shopping season starts earlier and earlier each year. Retailers and malls deck the halls before the witches and goblins of Halloween get their due. Shoppers, who previously fortified themselves with turkey and stuffing before launching their annual buying sprees, now open their wallets before the bird is out of the oven.

Americans will average a little more than $700 each in spending for the holiday and many look to stretch those dollars as far as they can. That may account for the free-for-alls on "black Friday" -- so called because retailers hope sales on the day after Thanksgiving will push their books into the black -- when shoppers eager for deep discounts lurk in the predawn darkness to be the first to scoop up low-priced goods when stores open their doors.

With all the savings from bargains, people should be able to spare some change for those who have so little. Charitable organizations also are hoping for some green to wipe away the red in their accounts.

For the Salvation Army, the task of collecting money in its traditional kettles has become increasingly difficult as malls and shopping centers turn away their bell-ringing volunteers. Corporate restrictions are based on the supposition that if the Salvation Army is allowed on retail premises, other charitable groups might demand similar accommodations. And there is also the fear that others with more nefarious purposes will invade their spaces.

This is too bad, because the kettles make giving so easy. Shoppers flush with purchases and filled with good cheer find it effortless to drop in a few quarters or dollar bills.

But while it might be more troublesome, Hawaii residents willing to brave sharp elbows and crunched toes for sandwich presses and fondue sets should be able to write a check or drop off goods and toys for the needy.

There is no shortage of ways to give if a kettle isn't in the vicinity. The Star-Bulletin's annual Good Neighbor Fund is one. If not cash from the Christmas stash, used clothing and household items are perfectly acceptable.

Churches, clinics, shelters and food banks will never turn away a donation and even a little bit will go a long way toward softening the pain of poverty. Volunteering to help groups that serve those in need is another manner in which to share the spirit of the holiday.

Though they've had to decline Salvation Army kettles, mall owners and individual retailers aren't being ungenerous. They continue to contribute through other means. Still, it's too bad current circumstances don't allow the tradition. The tinkling of bells has for decades been one of the merry sounds of Christmas.

You can send monetary gifts to: Star-Bulletin Good Neighbor Fund, c/o Helping Hands Hawaii, P.O. Box 17780, Hono-lulu, HI, 96817-0780




Oahu Publications, Inc. publishes the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, MidWeek and military newspapers


David Black, Dan Case, Dennis Francis,
Larry Johnson, Duane Kurisu, Warren Luke,
Colbert Matsumoto, Jeffrey Watanabe, Michael Wo

Dennis Francis, Publisher Lucy Young-Oda, Assistant Editor
(808) 529-4762
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