WHETHER you call it holiday spirit, a sense of community or a Christmas tradition, the donors, volunteers and organizers of two worthy campaigns are changing lives in the greater Quincy area.
The 2012 versions of Good News of Christmas and the Salvation Army Tree of Lights recently got under way. These campaigns offer a conduit for charitable giving or volunteer efforts. Very often, that's all it takes to encourage good people to help those in need.
The 24th annual Good News of Christmas campaign, sponsored by The Herald-Whig, will assist 47 needy families from West-Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri. First launched in 1989, the Good News campaign has assisted more than 1,200 families in West-Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri.
The Good News Volunteer Center will open Monday in the Quincy Mall Community Room where shoppers are needed.
"Many of our volunteers have been helping out for several years, and they know what needs to be done. We're on schedule," said Good News Volunteer Coordinator Dustin Hall.
The Tree of Lights campaign has a $375,000 goal this year. Funds will be used for Salvation Army programs that help area residents throughout the year. Last year's campaign allowed the agency to help 867 families and provided toys and gifts for 1,335 children and 2,870 gifts to individuals in nursing homes and group homes. The Salvation Army also served 739 meals on both Thanksgiving and Christmas last year.
"The need is so great, and sadly, it is growing," said Lee Lindsay Curtis, chairman of the Tree of Lights campaign.
According to the Heartland Alliance, one out of every three residents of Illinois was considered poor or low income last year.
Coordinators for the Good News and Tree of Lights campaigns say many of the people they serve are in poverty due to job losses or medical crises. Many are elderly or disabled or single parents facing the challenges of raising children alone.
Campaign workers have other stories as well, about caring, giving individuals who donate money or volunteer their time to help those who are less fortunate.
The Salvation Army's Tree of Lights and the Herald-Whig's Good News of Christmas have proven track records for meeting local needs.