THE 29th annual Good News of Christmas campaign kicks off today to provide critical assistance to needy families in West-Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri.
The continuing generosity of individuals, businesses, churches, Scouting troops and a host of other organizations from communities across the region has enabled the campaign to provide essential support to hundreds of families facing hardship since it was launched in 1988.
Sadly, the need this year remains as great as ever.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that an estimated 40.6 million people continued to live in poverty in 2016, based on a family of four trying to survive on earnings of about $24,000 a year or less. Of those, 1.6 million were in Illinois, and slightly more than 875,000 were in Missouri.
The Good News of Christmas campaign can help.
Some of the families in this year's campaign may be having difficulty paying for day-to-day necessities because they have lost jobs or face growing medical bills because of catastrophic illnesses.
Other cases may be single-parent households desperately trying to make ends meet, while still others may be children caring for aging parents. In addition, the number of grandparents raising their grandchildren has been on the rise nationally for two decades, and statistics show that 67 percent are younger than age 60, and 25 percent live in poverty.
Most important, the Good News of Christmas campaign offers hope and help to those families to get back on their feet while still being able to provide Christmas for their children and grandchildren.
Since the beginning nearly three decades ago, individuals and families selected for Good News assistance are nominated by social service agencies in West-Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri. A United Way of Adams County team screens the nominations and selects the cases to receive assistance.
Over the course of the next few weeks, The Herald-Whig will introduce you to this year's Good News families and ask that you help in any way you can.
Some groups and organizations adopt entire families, a hallmark of the campaign. Professionals have offered their services at no charge to fix automobiles, make household repairs and offer medical or dental treatments.
Meanwhile, others provide vital financial assistance to enable volunteers help shop for necessary items, wrap and sort them, and then help with delivery in mid-December.
Many of those volunteers will staff the Quincy Mall's community room seven days a week beginning Nov. 27, from 6 to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Those who want to play a role in this year's Good News of Christmas campaign should call the United Way HelpLine at 224-1223.
For 28 years, people from all walks of life in West-Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri have stepped forward to help in ways big and small to make a significant difference in the lives of those who need us the most.
With your continued generosity, we hope to repeat those successes in 2017.