Season of giving

If you’re reading this, most likely the world has not ended.At least not yet.

Which means — interpretations of the Mayan calendar notwithstanding, the 12 Days of Christmas are still in play! (OK, there’s 13 days remaining, but it’s really the 12 Shopping Days of Christmas anyway, right?)

After Thanksgiving, we used this space to urge Santa Cruz County residents to buy locally, and in doing so support local merchants, provide local jobs and help ensure the community reaps the benefit in terms of tax dollars. We’d also like to make another plea: To give locally.

This week, the Sentinel introduced a new online page that allows you, if you’re so inclined, to directly contribute to a number of worthy organizations providing help to the needy, lonely and sick this holiday season.

Just go to and look for “How to help in Santa Cruz County” and you’ll find a drop-down menu of charitable organizations — all of which we’ve checked out to ensure your donation is getting to the people you want to help. Click on an organization or group and you can either do your own research or donate directly.

If you would like to see us add an additional charitable organization to the list, follow the Facebook link on the page, where you can join a community discussion on worthy causes.

In addition to this new service, we continue to publish articles in print and online about how local people are attempting to help others in Santa Cruz County this season. You can find these stories on our home page.

Earlier this week, for instance, we wrote about Toys for Tots, where a lack of a warehouse put the Watsonville-based organization behind in its annual campaign — until local benefactors donated space. The organization hopes to provide 10,000 toys by Dec. 21 to be distributed through nonprofit groups, churches and food pantries.

Donations are coming in slowly, though, and as of Monday, the toy drive was only a third of the way toward its goal.

You can find Toys for Tots in our “How to Help” directory.  It’s been a difficult few years for helping agencies and organizations, which were hit particularly hard by the 2008-09 recession and a national slump in donations that saw many organizations forced to cut back on services and contributions.

The good thing is that the holiday season is a time when most of us who have more are particularly willing to help those with less.

All of which serves as a reminder, that with two weeks remaining until Christmas, it’s not too late to give your money, your blessings and your time.

Then you’ll discover for yourself that by helping a child, a lonely older person or a family in need, you’ll get back a more precious gift than you might ever hope for.


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