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Christmas is coming fast
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Quick — get that Jack O’ Lantern out of the way, put the turkey and Pilgrim decorations out and back quickly, line store shelves with gifts and Christmas decor, and tune up the carols and Santa music.


But if you really want to get into the Christmas spirit, drop by Bethel United Methodist Church’s new building next week, Nov. 16-23. 


That is the location of a Relay Center for the collection of Shoe Boxes for  the Samaritan’s Purse’ project “Operation Christmas Child.” 


There will be hundreds of decorated shoe boxes filled with toys, school supplies, even small articles of clothing; such as caps and gloves and socks.


These boxes will be pooled with others from around the states and delivered to children, both in the U.S. and around the world, children who, like those in our KARE for Kids program, might otherwise receive no presents. 


In fact, you can even get a brochure that tells exactly how and what to pack in a shoe box, how to label it; then you can take it back to the Relay Center on Lumpkin Campground Road before Nov. 23 to be joined with the others on their way to bring joy and cheer.


That shouldn’t detract from making donations, either toys or money, to our own KARE for Kids, or gifts for children being monitored by CASA volunteers, or any other special project that you normally support.


Many organizations are including KARE for Kids gifts to be brought to their Christmas parties instead of gifts for exchange among the members. 


Yes, indeed, opportunities abound for sharing in the Christmas spirit and doing it early.


More opportunities can be found in your mailboxes.


I can’t begin to count the pieces of mail I have already received soliciting Christmas donations for all sorts of worthy causes. There are always dozens of those — and over the years, I have responded to many.


This year, with the economy downturn, I am receiving repeat requests: two or more from the same charity, with only a couple of days between.  Apparently, they are squeezing mailing lists from many years back.


Unfortunately, I can’t contribute to all the needy, and I really don’t want to feel guilty about the requests that I put in the wastebasket. I do want my gifts, whatever they are, to be shared in a cheerful spirit, not reluctantly, but joyfully.


That “cheerful spirit” reminds me to share in the pride that the Dawson County Competitive Cheerleaders team must feel: almost every weekend they come home as winners, or at least leaders.


The entire county can be proud of passing the ELOST and of honoring veterans in several special ways. 


My congratulations also go to Dawsonville City Council winners and to Margie Weaver and her staff for adding to the Senior Center elevator fund in a soul-food way.


Now turn those pumpkins into pies and breads, be thankful if you are able to share in giving, and light up your Christmas spirit — because the season is upon us.


Helen Taylor’s column appears periodically in the Dawson Community News.