We’ve just begun the holiday seasons, Thanksgiving has passed, Christmas is only four weeks in the future, then the New Year arrives.

While I shared our thanks with you last week, I’d like to continue stressing that sentiment and encourage you to combine it with the traditional Christmas practice of giving gifts.

I’m sure you have many personal memories for which you’re grateful and many family and friends on whom you plan to bestow you Christmas largess, but I hope you’ve read or will read the two of the stories on page 4 about poverty and helping local children.

Both offer ways in which you might be able to assist some of our residents.

The conversation at the “This is this” is tonight and perhaps you’ll read the notice too late, but the problem, low income or poverty, won’t be gone. You can contact Mark Yardas or another conversation participant to learn what the next step will be.

Poverty or low income is not a rare occurrence on the Hill. Even if you haven’t encountered someone in this situation often, it’s more prevalent than many people believe.

Nearly 60 percent of the students at Idyllwild School are considered socially disadvantaged, which means eligible for the free or reduced-price lunch program.

The 2010 Census estimated that nine percent of local families were below the poverty level and 13 percent of families with children under 18 years old.

So giving a gift through the HELP Center’s Angel Tree located in the lobby of the BBVA Compass Bank or bringing a gift to one of the Spark of Love Toy Drive sites would be a very generous step.

Bring several!

But keep in mind, not only do children enjoy the Christmas gifts, but they, their parents and other local adults need some help before and after the holiday.

It was only two years ago that Riverside County established a winter warming center on the Hill. There, residents who need that warmth during the freezing nights could congregate, even our pets which Madelaine Barnett reminds us.

Just ask the Woodies how much wood they cut, split and provide to HELP Center clients?

Just three months ago, a homeless person was found dead near Highway 243. I’m not making the case that anyone of us could have prevented that tragedy, but I am suggesting there are people who need help.

As I wrote several weeks ago, people don’t choose this way of life, nobody dreams about being homeless or poor.

Cajoling them to take personal responsibility may help with their appearance and self-esteem. Sometimes life puts us in situations that we never expected or want.

For those of us whose guile or wisdom has led down different paths, this is the time to reflect on our good fortune and reach out to other human beings.

Certainly our support of Measure U, which benefits the Hemet School District, verifies our willingness to help; but the stories on page 4 emphasize that sometimes charity starts at home.

Although people living in the midst of a natural disaster need help from outside, our efforts to comfort and care should not forget our friends and neighbors who have needs, too.

The effort you make doesn’t have to be monetary nor should it be limited to serving food on Thanksgiving Day. Much more is needed.

This is the time of year when you might think about it and acknowledge it more, but the need is not seasonal.


  1. Inspiring column, the last thing I did before leaving Idyllwild was go to the Idyllwild Pharmacy and purchase a cute doll for just over $5 to put under the tree at the bank. I knew it would find a home with some small child, and that made me happy.