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From the editor's desk: You don't have to look far to give

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opinion Cottage Grove, 55016
Cottage Grove Minnesota 7584 80th Street South 55016

The best thing about the holidays is that they remind us to think about how fortunate we are, and to share our good fortune with others by giving of our time and money.

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You don't have to look far to give -- there are plenty of opportunities to give locally.

A Touch of Home, a group established in 2003 and based at Crossroads Church in Woodbury, sends care packages, letters and cards monthly to troops overseas. Their hope is to remind the soldiers that they're cared about and appreciated, and to bring a smile to their faces, one group member told me. They can use donations of money to cover postage (each box costs about $11 to mail) and donations of items to put into the boxes such as toiletries, non-perishable food and packaging materials. If you want to volunteer your time, the next shipment is being packed at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, at the church, located at 5900 Woodbury Drive, Woodbury, MN 55129. Checks for "A Touch of Home" can be mailed to the church. E-mail Linda@atouchofhome.us with any questions.

Because of the economic downturn, more people are saving money by shopping at Stone Soup Thrift Shop, and depending on its free voucher program, which helps those who can't afford to pay to get the household items and clothing they need. Simply by shopping at the store or donating quality items for resale, you're helping the cause, but the organization also depends on donations and volunteers. The store is located at 950 Third St., Suite 101 in St. Paul Park. For more information, call (651) 458-9786 or go to stonesoupthriftshop.org.

Human Services Inc. (HSI) has been hit hard by the economy said Development and Community Relations Director Joyce Flynn. The organization is seeing more people struggling with mental illness, abuse and other issues in need of its services, while at the same time foundations are giving less and its county funding has been cut. The organization has already cut staff, and might have to cut more, Flynn said. Donations can be sent to HSI, Development Office, 7066 Stillwater Blvd. N., Oakdale, MN 55128. For information on volunteering, go to www.hsicares.org.

The Friends in Need Food Shelf is being used more this year than ever. They're on track to serve 20,000 people this year, said director Michelle Rageth, up from 16,000 last year. Rageth said she's thankful the community has really stepped up to meet the growing need. Monetary donations can be sent to Friends in Need Food Shelf, P.O. Box 6, Cottage Grove, MN, 55016, or donations of food can be put in the donation box at Cub Foods.

The food shelf's holiday program, Share the Joy, connects families who want to share with those who are in need. To adopt a family and buy Christmas presents for them, call Kris Richard at (651) 458-3044 before Dec. 7.

People can also bring donations for the food shelf to the Holiday Train event in Cottage Grove Dec. 12.

These are just a few of the many groups of local people doing good things.

Other volunteer opportunities are listed on volunteermatch.org, and many other places to give are listed at givemn.org. Churches are another great source of opportunities to give and serve, and of course there are an endless number of national and worldwide causes worthy of our time and money.

If I have one word of advice to pass on it would be not to let yourself get so overwhelmed with all the need out there that it discourages you from playing the small role each of us can play in helping others.

When everyone does the little bit that they can, it goes a long way.

I wish everyone a joyful and fulfilling holiday season.

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