Thank you to those who help spread holiday cheer

The holidays are supposed to be a happy time, especially for children. That, unfortunately, is not always the case.

Every year, there are families in need. Every year, volunteers step up to help try to change that. This year has been no different, and last weekend was another shining example of that.

Approximately 150 volunteer drivers stepped up for Saturday’s Columbus Firemen’s Cheer Fund’s delivery day, the 89th iteration of an annual event that helps a huge amount of local families in a time of need. That’s a lot of volunteers that took time out of their weekend to help others, which is a heartwarming sight to see every single year.

Instead of many families going with few or no gifts this holiday season, the Cheer Fund delivered 1,056 boxes to help spread some holiday joy and make sure families have a better Christmas than they otherwise might have.

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The number of deliveries is actually down from last year, but that doesn’t mean the number of families in need is lower. The Holiday Helpline — organized through the United Way of Bartholomew County — maintains a database for several seasonal charities, and this year, the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program and Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center’s Angels of Love initiative are both helping out, too.

Plus, Cheer Fund numbers are likely to go up. In the past, up to 200 additional families on wait lists have been helped in the final week before Christmas. The joy probably hasn’t stopped spreading just yet.

On Sunday, local police officers took children to Wal-Mart for another annual program, Shop with a Cop, sponsored by Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 89. About 50 different officers took 130 kids shopping, spending about $250 per child, up a bit from last year, for over $40,000 in total. The previous day, Brown County officers took more than four dozen Nashville-area kids to the same store to pick out their own Christmas gifts.

And don’t forget local churches, with St. Peter’s Lutheran and Come As You Are Ministries in Columbus hosting free Christmas Day meals for people with nowhere to go for the holiday. That’s another small, but incredibly meaningful, way to help people have a happier holiday.

It’s inspiring to see the number of ways people and organizations offer a helping hand for the holidays. Nobody should go without gifts or without some semblance of happiness at this time of year. We applaud everyone who does their part to make sure that doesn’t happen for so many local families.