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Editorial: Sharing Families: Will you again be part of this worthy effort?

While some in our community celebrate new jobs or promotions, educational milestones, home ownership or recuperation from health challenges, others are seeing life's glass as half-empty.

Unfortunately, hardship knows no season.

The 2012 edition of Sharing Families is underway.

Among the lemons being served up to several families who've asked for help -- a mom who has several serious illnesses, a widow with two children, another family that's currently homeless and several single-parent or two-family households with one to four children, aged infant to teens.

This will be the 25th year the River Falls community has stepped up and reached out to the neediest at Christmastime through the Sharing Families project.

The goal is to provide warm winter clothing, food, toys and other holiday gifts for 50 area families. This non-profit effort is 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 for 32 families.

Several other families, workplace groups and local organizations are standing ready to 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.

But more help is needed if the program is to meet the need again this year.

A primary goal of the program is to provide holiday gifts, both toys and clothes, 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.

There are single parent families, some with mom as the head of the family and some with dad; two-parent families; grandparents bringing up grandchildren; families supporting extended family members; and some families with babies on the way. All are struggling, and all live in our community.

The adults in Sharing Families are mostly under-employed or laid off from previous jobs. Some are disabled. Others are starting over after leaving abusive relationships. Still others are homeless.

Gasoline cards are a frequent request. Some can also be used for tune-ups, oil changes and other repairs.

Can you find it in your heart to help this year? All contributions are tax-deductible as Sharing Families is an IRS-approved 501©(3) organization.

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

n Sponsoring a family or child and buying the items they have requested. Those who decide to do that are asked to call the Journal main desk at 715-425-1561 or Judy Wiff at 715-426-1049.

--Adding a child to your shopping list and buying a new toy, game or outfit for that child.

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

Donations may be mailed to Sharing Families, P.O. Box 701, River Falls, WI 54022; brought to the Journal office between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays; or dropped off at a participating bank. Those include WESTconsin Credit Union, First National Bank of River Falls, River Falls State Bank, Royal Credit Union and Security Financial Bank.

Online Poll: Check your political pulse

The Journal's online poll question this week asked: With the presidential election decided, how are you feeling?

Early results: MUCH WORSE, 54.8%; MUCH BETTER, 35.5%; LITTLE BETTER, 6.5%; SAME, 3.2%; and LITTLE WORSE, 0%.

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