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The last gift on the list

December 23, 1998

It's two days before Christmas, but for many who've had the traditional tree up for several weeks, a pile of gifts stacked beneath its branches, there's still that nagging feeling that there's still something left undone. Let us suggest that perhaps it's time to spend a moment thinking about the needs of the community.

We're talking about Washington County's United Way charitable appeal, which has now raised $1.2 million toward its $1.7 million goal. If you haven't made a pledge, it's important to do so now.

The United Way's message of caring and community was harder for its volunteers to deliver this year, not only because of the local elections, but also due to events taking place on the national and international stage. It's tough to think about the needs of local charities when the leader of the nation is about to be impeached and when American bombers are raining destruction down on an adversary in the Middle East.

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But the events that happen in Washington, D.C. or halfway around the world do not erase the needs here at home. Children who come to the Memorial Recreation Center still need the computer skills they learn there to make them better students. Adults who come to Goodwill still need the training they get to help them support their families. And the battered women who come to CASA still need a place where they and their children can feel safe and begin a new life.

Is there really still a need for help during this booming economy? Yes, because even though welfare reform has put more people into the work force, the positions they're getting don't pay enough to raise a family. They've done their part by getting jobs; now the community needs to help them survive - with food, training and child care - until they move up to jobs that leave them and their families self-sufficient.

This is not a poor community; a few dollars deducted from each week's paycheck is a small price to pay for the quality of life we have, and to ensure that the less fortunate are not forgotten during a season that's supposed to be about giving and caring. To make a pledge, call 301-739-8200.

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