"Sometimes we run out of food."

"Sometimes we run out of food."

— Burnadine Bratton, food pantry coordinator

Sometimes, some Rogue Valley residents run out of food, too. That's why food pantries depend on the community's generosity to meet the need of those who have trouble feeding their families or themselves.

You can help by filling the grocery bag you found inside today's newspaper with nutritious, nonperishable food, or by writing a check to ACCESS Inc., the county's emergency food bank.

ACCESS provides food boxes to thousands of families each month through its network of 20 food pantries, as well as distributing food to 25 local agencies serving low-income residents.

A combination of factors makes the food drive specially important this year. Declining federal support coupled with massive safety recalls of some food products has put a large dent in food-bank supplies.

The 24th annual Food for Hope drive's goal is 25,000 pounds of food and $25,000 in cash this season.

While food donations are important and welcome, cash is always appreciated as well because it allows ACCESS to fill in gaps in donated food items. The agency can provide 6 pounds of food for every dollar donated.

Giving is always encouraged at this time of year when, let's face it, many of us are in a giving mood. But hunger doesn't suddenly become a problem between Thanksgiving and New Year's. The need for emergency food is present 365 days a year.

So, by all means, fill those grocery bags and write those checks. But don't forget the food bank in January or June or September.

As long as we're on the topic of holiday giving to those in need, the Mail Tribune's annual Light One Candle series of stories will begin Sunday.

The series profiles local families and individuals who are doing without at the darkest time of the year. Each year the response from readers is tremendous, which is gratifying to the newspaper staff and to the agencies that provide us with the true stories of need.

Each year the stories also emphasize that the specific needs outlined are only a few examples among many. For example, if a family needs a bed for one of their children, they need a bed — not 100 beds.

Other families not profiled have needs, too. Perhaps it's warm jackets or firewood or baby clothes.

So by all means respond to the stories, and consider making a donation to one of the agencies to help any family or individual, not just the ones profiled. But by all means, respond.

It makes the holidays warmer for everyone.