Cheers — to all who responded to the increased needs for food, clothing and shelter this season, and to the social service agency staff and volunteers who toil tirelessly to assist those members of the community who need help. The overwhelming response to the Mail Tribune's Light One Candle series of stories was especially gratifying. Donations of needed items and cash beyond the needs of the few families we profiled meant the excess could be distributed to the many we were not able to write about.

Cheers — to all who responded to the increased needs for food, clothing and shelter this season, and to the social service agency staff and volunteers who toil tirelessly to assist those members of the community who need help. The overwhelming response to the Mail Tribune's Light One Candle series of stories was especially gratifying. Donations of needed items and cash beyond the needs of the few families we profiled meant the excess could be distributed to the many we were not able to write about.

Jeers — to the Oregon Lottery's decision to begin advertising video gambling on television in response to declining income from the slot machine-style games. The move ends a nearly 20-year policy of refraining from TV ads for games that experts say are more likely to encourage compulsive gambling, which can drain players' bank accounts and ruin lives.

Gambling is a poor way to raise money for government in any case; seeking to entice more people to wager their hard-earned cash against the state is a poor way to spend it.

Cheers — to the Calvary Temple Church of Central Point, where members responded to the recent cold snap by opening a warming center where homeless people could stay warm on particularly cold nights. A Central Point resident came up with the idea after a homeless man was found dead on a frosty morning last month, covered only with a thin blanket. Bravo to church members for their quick action, which sets an example for us all.

Jeers — to the official policy of the Department of Veterans Affairs that says parents of soldiers killed in battle cannot be buried alongside their loved one in a military cemetery without a special waiver, and then compounds the insult by insisting that the relative also die before a waiver can be issued.

Denise Anderson, a Massachusetts resident who lost her only son to a roadside bomb in Iraq, was denied a waiver allowing her to be buried next to him because she is still alive. The VA allows spouses and children to be buried with fallen soldiers, but not parents, and issues waivers for parents of unmarried, childless soldiers only after their deaths.

Anderson's situation has prompted legislation in Congress to change the policy; a bill has passed the House and a second is pending in the Senate.

Cheers — to the local residents being profiled in a series of Mail Tribune stories for their innovative efforts to snatch financial success from the jaws of the recession. An Oregon Shakespeare Festival actress left without a contract for next season has successfully revived a custom jewelry business. A father and son with a struggling logging company have developed a huge chipper to grind logging debris into fuel for industrial boilers. A former insurance agent has started the catering business he always dreamed of running. And a group of Ashland partners launched a high-end coffee business that has succeeded in spite of the economy.

All these and more restore our faith in American ingenuity and determination. Congratulations to all.