There are many groups of people in Wyoming who could use a little nudge of assistance at this time of year. Two types that come to mind are the under-employed and the unemployed.
The former are the folks who serve us our food at the neighborhood restaurant or the guy or gal at the counter of the local convenience store or working at a myriad of odd jobs all around us.
The dispositions of these folks are amazing. In the face of daunting financial difficulties, they still go to work and they keep everything going.
Modern-day Christmas is expensive. And it is tough when you don’t have enough money or are a single parent or if you have dealt with recent employment problems.
This season can be such a time of great excess when it comes to gift giving, it is often a miracle if these folks on the margins are able to provide simple gifts to their loved ones.
This holiday season is a wonderful time to pay it forward. It could be as simple as doubling the tip you are leaving. You could hand out gift cards. Most grocery stores sell pre-paid cards. A lot of folks will pay for the folks’ groceries in the line behind them, for example. Now that is a good idea for a gift during this holiday.
I know somebody who is always looking for a large needy family at the fast food restaurant and who tries to pay their bill for them. Nice.
Sorry if this is preachy, it is not meant to be. It is a reality all over Wyoming.
An easy way to help is to contribute to the local Salvation Army, which locally is coordinated by Linda Hudson.
In this column, I often write about our local Christmas Food Basket program, which provides more than 300 laundry bins, jammed full of food, toys and a big turkey to families who appreciate it.
Wyoming people are a generous lot and here in Lander, over $5,000 will be donated to pay for this project. We even received a check for $50 from an inmate in the Wyoming prison system. Similar projects are happening all over the state.
The Tribune-Eagle in Cheyenne partners with the American Legion Post #6 with several local businesses and countless volunteers to provide Christmas food baskets to needy folks in Cheyenne.
Up in Sheridan, Robby Smith reports that they recently held a Christmas Holiday Dinner, which was free to all, and lots of gifts were given out. Many churches in Sheridan pitch in and help out.
Sheridan Media has a Christmas Wish program and the Sheridan Press had a GoodFellow program, which both promote giving and helping the needy.
In Jackson, Suzanne Young tells me that the men’s group at the Presbyterian Church buys new books and toys for folks so needy folks can have “new” gifts to give to their families.
Leslie Blythe likes to brag about her fellow Rocky Mountain Power employees who donated a freezer to a needy family and figured out a way to help an abundance of families who needed a break this Christmas.
In Torrington, Mike Callahan says the Santa’s Helpers really help out the needy at this time of year.
In Douglas, Helga Bull sings the praises of the NOEL effort.
In Casper, Vicki Burger says they raised a bunch of money for the needy by raffling off a basket full of first edition books.
Back here in Lander, Mark Calhoun says the Christmas House at the Methodist Thrift Shop raised $3,600, which will be given to deserving folks,
The local Child Development Services (CDS) bus is also stuffed with toys, according to Lori Herrud-Morrow, which are delivered to needy families. The local radio station and the Fire Department teamed up to help, too.
In Riverton, Central Wyoming College is very generous with its “Giving Tree.”
In an earlier column I mentioned some books but, naturally, forgot some others.
Check out new books by Barbara Townsend’s Blood Atonement; Scott Farris’ Kennedy and Reagan; L. P. Hoffman’s Shadow of the Piper; and Marjane Ambler’s Yellowstone Has Teeth. All are excellent. Another great coffee table book is Wyoming From The Air by Claude Poulet and Bayard Fox.
Mike Jones recently invented the Farson Knife. For hunters, this should be indispensable. Sold through Fremont Knives. Check it on YouTube.
For Wyoming-made products, check out the Wyoming First program through www.wyomingbusiness.org. Not too late to shop local.
Happy Shopping. Happy giving. And Merry Christmas.
Check out Bill Sniffin’s columns at www.billsniffin.com. He is a longtime Wyoming journalist from Lander who has written four books. His most recent book is “Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders” which is available at www.wyomingwonders.com.