Giving thanks to our partners and supporters

As originally published in the Our Towns section of the State Journal-Register.

This coming Thursday, many of us will gather with friends and family to give thanks for events and relationships which give meaning to our lives. As an organization, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reflect on the past year and express our gratitude for the support of our volunteers, advocates, partners and supporters.

On behalf of the board of directors and staff at United Way, thank you to our friends and supporters for their commitment to our community and help during the past year.

Thanksgiving also represents the beginning of the holiday season and what many consider the season of giving. During this time, members of our community tend to think about those in need and the families in our community who are struggling. As a result, we see people from all walks of life joining together to lend their support to community causes and organizations.

For me, this time of year and the generosity of our neighbors is inspiring. Perhaps this is because people are more aware of the needs of others, or perhaps, it’s simply the willingness of our neighbors to find a few extra hours to volunteer.

In the spirit of helping others during this holiday season, I thought I would share a few ways in which you can lend a hand to a local organization:

  • Tree of Wishes – For more than 35 years, Family Service Center’s Tree of Wishes has made the season a little brighter for those in need. The names on the tree are provided by 15 local nonprofit organizations. Family Service Center is in need of both volunteers and people wanting to take a card and help during the holiday season.
  • Mini O’Beirne Crisis Nursery Children’s Holiday Store – The Children’s Holiday Store is a Springfield tradition, giving kids a chance to shop for loved ones, friends and pets from among items costing from $1 to $10. The proceeds benefit the Mini O’Beirne Crisis Nursery. Outside of a great shopping experience, the organization is in need of volunteers to help out.
  • Contact Ministries Christmas Giveaway – Contact Ministries will provide holiday assistance to around 400 families during their annual Christmas Giveaway. However, the organization is in need of volunteers to help register families over the next few weeks.
  • Sojourn Shelter Adopt-a-Family Program – Sojourn’s adopt-a-family program matches community donors (individual or group) with a family in need during the holiday season. Donors are able to identify the size of family they wish to adopt and are provided a family match sheet that highlights the family’s information, gift wrapping and labeling instructions and other general information.

Naturally, there is no shortage of ways to help a local organization during this season of giving. Many organizations like Catholic Charities, Senior Services and Friend-In-Deed have holiday programs which rely upon the help of volunteers and generosity of our community. You can find details about the above events and sign up to volunteer for many local organizations through Get Connected, our volunteer website sponsored by U.S. Bank. Simply visit click here.

As we enter the holiday season, all of us at United Way of Central Illinois are thankful to you and our partners for allowing us to continue to raise awareness for local programs that are helping to build a brighter future for our community.

To the thousands of people in our community who have supported or worked with United Way and our partners – Thank you for your investment in the future of our community.

John Kelker is the president at United Way of Central Illinois. Look for United Way columns weekly in Our Towns.