There is so much going on in Suwannee County the next few weeks, "Old Tyme Days" at the Spirit of the Suwannee this weekend, Christmas on the Square in Live Oak the first weekend in December, and in our end of the county, the annual celebration in Branford hosted by the Branford Area Inter-Church Ministry, this year falling on Dec. 10.  The event is held at Hatch Park with lots of activities planned starting at noon until 9 p.m. I had a really nice visit with Audrey Howell, one of the people very involved with this project for many years, and this year the group is working very hard to ensure a fun day. The flyer with all the information can be found in this paper, so please mark your calendars and bring your family for a fun time. The parade will be at 6 p.m. this year, with prizes for the best floats that depict the theme, and if you would like to have an entry in the parade, please call Jim Hollis at 294-2689 to get the information and to register. And I believe I was told that this year booth space will be free, but please call Mamie Jackson at 935-9121 to confirm that. The theme is "Keeping Christ In Christmas", and this special group ministers to the benevolent needs in our community as well as provides fellowship and communication between the local churches.

Thanks to all of you who have already responded to our appeal for help with "Toys For Kids", Roger has been receiving a lot of calls in support of this program. But this week alone about 16 more children's names were added to his list, and the need is still great and the list growing. It isn't just toys that are needed, it's warm coats for ever-growing children, warm shoes and blankets, as well as the usual "under-the-tree-from-Santa" items of clothing. We all know how quickly our children outgrow everything, and if you are struggling to make ends meet, just a pair of shoes can put a big dent in that budget.  So please, give Roger a call and make a donation. Call Roger Burnside at 386-935-3343 for more information.

If you are in a position to "adopt" a family this year, he can give you the name and clothing size of the child or children in that family. And if you are an organization or group that has helped Roger in the past, please give him a quick call and let him know you are ready, willing and able to help him again this year. There are so many in our area who need your help.

And I always try to start reminding folks right about now to think about folks in your immediate area who are facing a long cold winter and have certain needs that they face alone. Usually it's an older person whose family doesn't live close by and who is living on a strict budget, usually just Social Security. And believe me, that doesn't give any of us in that position much leeway when the weather gets cold and the electric bill goes way up, our second biggest monthly expense. In the spirit of Christmas, if you know such a person, take the time to ask if they need a ride to town to do their shopping, can you do any of their shopping for them if they aren't up to the trip, can you help them put up their decorations, if they do any decorating at all in their home, especially if they have physical limitations, and if that person lives alone and does have mobility problems, how about bringing them some of your home-cooked meal once in a while, or maybe while you are baking for the holidays, sharing some of your goodies with them?  A prettily wrapped box of homemade cookies or a small loaf of something sweet is always welcome. Do they have a fireplace for heat, and could they use some firewood?  Maybe you have an unused blanket that would be a great help in the coming cold weather. It's the small things that the rest of us take for granted that is the most appreciated, but most of all, for seniors without family close by, it's just the thought that someone took the time to ask that means so much. Just a short visit, or a quick phone call, can cheer up an otherwise lonely day.

Again I make the suggestion that, instead of driving miles to do your Christmas shopping, and buying things that are made outside the USA, that you rethink your shopping and gift-giving and spend your hard-earned dollars right here in Suwannee County. Take the time to look at other options as gifts - certificates at local restaurants, beauty shops and barber shops, pet shops, car services like an oil change, gift cards for gas, gift certificates for food, maid service for a day, maybe even the cost of a one-time auto detailing service, one day cost of an exercise class, martial arts, etc. Keep your dollars in our community, and help our local businesses stay in business.

I'm making a personal request to all of you who are Prayer Warriors. I believe in the power of prayer as do most of my family, and this past week in one family we received word of the discovery of cancer in the Mom and yesterday the possibility of cancer in one of her daughters instead of the hernia first diagnosed, as well as an encouraging update that one of their sons in the military has been transferred out of a "hot zone" in Iraq to a safer situation in Kuwait. Please pray for this family; they are very special to me, and we are trying to stay optimistic that the biopsy and additional tests this week and next will be encouraging.

In the spirit of the season, I'll be closing my column with quotes from "A Layman's Ten Commandments" sent by a friend:

"Prayer is not a SPARE WHEEL that you pull out when in trouble, but a STEERING WHEEL that directs the right path

throughout."

"Why is a car's windshield so large and the rear view mirror so small? Because our past is not so important as our future, so look ahead and move on."

"Friendship is like a book; it takes years to write, but only a few seconds to burn."

"All things in life are temporary. If going well, enjoy it, for they will not last forever. If going wrong, don't worry; they can't last long either."

 "Old friends are gold. New friends are diamond. If you get a diamond, don't forget the gold, because to hold a diamond you always need a base of gold."

It's a phrase we've all seen and heard for years around this time, but think about the words and what they mean: "He is the REASON FOR THE SEASON!" Count your blessings, every one, every day!   

God bless!

                  

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