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Editorial: As the holidays near, Sharing Families asks for your help

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Who said it? When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Let us paraphrase that. When times get tough in this community, the kind gentle people pull out all the stops -- in helping others.

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The Sharing Families project, an annual effort to help those in the River Falls community having a particularly hard time, is underway again.

The goal is to provide warm winter clothing, food, toys and other holiday gifts for 50 area families. This is a non-profit effort led by a board of volunteers and coordinated by River Falls Journal staffers.

So far the volunteers who screen the families have provided us with profiles of 34 families. Of that number, 16 have already been "adopted" by other families, workplace groups and local organizations who will pool efforts to help a family in need. Cash donations, which will be used to buy food packages and other necessities, are also starting to come in.

More family profiles are expected to arrive until we reach the 50 units the program serves each year.

A frequent request seen so far is for gasoline gift cards. Many of the parents -- those fortunate enough to have jobs -- commute for their work. Others drive regularly to colleges and technical schools to try and improve their situations.

The goal of the program to provide holiday gifts, both toys and clothing, to the children. But most donors agree that helping the parents with daily needs also helps the kids. And besides it's nice to give something extra to an overburdened adult.

From the thank-you notes we've received and shared with you in the past, we know the parents appreciate your generosity.

This handwritten message was received late last year from one mom: "Just wanted to say thank you so much for gifts and groceries that our family received. It was a huge help at this difficult time financially for our family.

"The gifts were great, and I know the kids will enjoy them. Please let the family that donated to us know how much everything was appreciated. You have made our holiday a happy one."

Can you find it in your heart to help people like these below?

--A family of four. The father lost his job, and the mom developed a chronic illness.

--A single mom with two little kids. She's finishing her education and would like nice-looking clothing to wear to job interviews.

--A dad who works outdoors. He needs warm sturdy work clothes for winter.

--A single mom, who drives from place to place for her work. She needs new windshield wiper blades. She'd also like new jeans because she wears them out quickly in her job.

--A single dad raising a child alone. He asked for nothing for himself, but when pressed said they could use lunch containers. "We never seem to have enough," he said.

--Several families need converter boxes because at this point, they have no television reception in their homes.

If you are able and willing to help, we ask your assistance in these ways:

-- Make a donation of money to buy food, toys and clothing. (No cash will be given to families.)

-- Sponsor a child or family by buying the items they have requested. Those who decide to do that are asked to call Vera Roy-Stoeberl at 715-426-1046 or Judy Wiff at 715-426-1049.

Monetary donations may be mailed to Sharing Families, P.O. Box 701, River Falls, WI 54022, dropped off at a participating bank or brought to the Journal office between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays.

Online Poll: Local voters remain divided

The Journal's online poll question this week asked: Are you pleased with all the Nov. 2 election results?

The results as of Tuesday noon: NO, 45.3%; YES, 39.6%; SORT OF, 9.4%; and DON'T CARE, 6.7%.

You still have time to vote at www.riverfallsjournal.com.

Look for a new poll question Friday.

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