Thumbs up and down

Sep. 29, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

THUMBS UP: VolunteerLee

It’s been about a year since the start of VolunteerLee, an organization that aggregates local nonprofit groups in search of help and broadcasts them and their needs, all in one place, to an online community of hundreds of potential volunteers.

It’s a program that’s obviously working. Just consider that the Lee County public schools are seeing a greater number of volunteers thanks to VolunteerLee.

“Our schools that use it seem to like it a lot,” Sharon Spence, the LCS public information officer, told The Herald this week.

Jan Hayes, director of the local United Way of which VolunteerLee is a part, noted that the group has about 600 members and several thousand visitors to the website each month.

The volunteer opportunities are abundant in Lee County. Getting those opportunities lined up with the willing and caring people of this county is a perfect match with VolunteerLee.

Whether someone is part of an agency that needs volunteers, or an individual who wants to give back to the community, the website is an outstanding resource.

Thanks is due to Ron Hewett, VolunteerLee lead coordinator, who has worked diligently to promote the program. And thanks, too, to Lee County’s many volunteers, who are making a positive difference in the life of our community.

THUMBS UP: Christmas JOY programs

Fall has arrived, which has us thinking of pumpkins and festivals. Soon enough, Thanksgiving and Christmas will be upon us.

It’s also nearing time for the registration for The Salvation Army’s Christmas JOY (Joy for Others at Yuletide) program, which will take place Oct. 14-15 at the Army’s offices in the Lee County Arts & Community Center.

The JOY program provides Christmas presents to those families with children up to age 12 who otherwise cannot afford gifts. There are other similar programs conducted throughout the area.

To see the joy on a child’s face on Christmas morning is one of the delights of the world. How tragic to think there are children who will not know such happiness.

It’s great to see there are caring agencies and individuals who open their hearts — and their pocketbooks — for the holiday to bring delight to those children in need.

Thank you for the Salvation Army and all others who give during the holidays. And for those looking for a good way to bring joy to others this Christmas, why not consider adopting an “angel” through the Salvation Army’s Christmas JOY program in the coming months?

THUMBS DOWN: Christmas in ... September?

OK, so we just finished giving a tip of the hat to a Christmas-related programs ... but let’s put the brakes on Christmas-themed promotions by retailers, shall we?

We used to collectively lament when we’d see Christmas merchandise (chiefly decorations) on sale in stores before Halloween. Now? The rushing of the calendar, and the compelling need to be first, had some large retailers seriously jumping the gun this year. Walmart’s Christmas campaign began a full month ago, on Aug. 22, and Kmart started featuring Christmas-themed elements in its commercials on television on Sept. 8.

Let’s at least give everyone time to rake their yards — of the leaves which haven’t fallen yet — before rushing into winter.