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A single flame kindles hope and warmth

Last Sunday, we urged readers to contribute to ACCESS Inc.’s annual holiday food drive. This week, another appeal to your generosity.

The Mail Tribune’s annual holiday series Light One Candle launches today, with the first story of a family that could use some help this season. The series has appeared in our paper for more than 20 years, and every year we are reminded of what a caring community we live in.

The idea — and the inspiration for the title — is that even a small gesture can make all the difference for people facing hardship at the holidays. A single flame is most powerful at the darkest time of the year. And if many people light just one candle, the accumulated brilliance is dazzling.

Today’s first installment features a family who were hit by both of this year’s calamities. The father lost his construction job in April because of the coronavirus pandemic, and then the family lost their home in the Almeda fire.

They have a new place to live, and furniture, but could use housewares such as small appliances, pots and pans, dishes and flatware.

As always, a contact phone number and email address are provided with each installment. And, as always, donations in excess of what each family or individual needs will be distributed to others, so you can be sure your contributions will be put to good use.

Each story in the series just one example of the need that is out there. And every year, our readers respond to the stories we tell with tremendous generosity.

The Family Nurturing Center, which works with families working to reunite under the auspices of the state’s child welfare system, is asking for help as well this year. Looking for an alternative to sending staff out to buy toys for clients during the pandemic, the center developed a program that provides “Family traditions kits” to encourage struggling families to start their own home-based holiday traditions. The kits include tasty goodies, books for reading aloud, card games, the materials to build a gingerbread house and even battery-powered candles.

The center is seeking donations to help cover the $10,000 expense of assembling the kits. That’s a great opportunity for donors who would prefer to make a cash contribution.

The pandemic coupled with the devastating Almeda fire added stresses and loss for families already struggling with substance abuse and other challenges. Those of us fortunate to still be employed and be able to afford roofs over our heads can reach out to those less favored this year, and even the smallest contribution will be meaningful to those in need.

However you participate, know that you are helping strengthen our community by offering a glimmer of hope at the darkest time of the year. And thank you.