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Each year I write an introduction to the Journal Gift Guide, which runs every week between now and the week before ... well, the start of Kwanzaa. I try to infuse it with holiday cheerfulness. Last year was especially tough. Three years into a recession like we've never seen before, not in my lifetime. Unemployment. Homes under water financially. Kids moving back home after college. (Not ours, thank God.) I ended up saying, things could be worse, which is definitely not cheerful.

We always urge readers to shop locally year-round, especially at independent businesses. After all, independent businesses donate more than twice as much per sales dollar to local nonprofits than chains do. (Source: American Independent Business Alliance.) What else could we do? Last year we joined KHUM radio to raise money and awareness for Food for People, the umbrella agency for all hunger-relief efforts in Humboldt County. We offered to include in the edition immediately following Thanksgiving a "Report to the Community" on Food for People programs. (For the record: 12 separate programs and 17 food pantries serving individuals and families, seniors and children.) And our printers, Western Web out on the Samoa Peninsula, generously inserted at no cost pre-printed envelops asking for direct donations to the food bank.

How'd it go last year? Journal readers are very generous. KHUM listeners are too, but the addition of the Journal envelops brought in an extra $10,000 or so. More importantly, many of those donors were new to supporting Food for People and many of them became monthly donors -- money the food bank can count on every month.

So while you're getting ready to shop (lots of cool stuff in the pages that follow), get your checkbook ready. KHUM folks will be at different supermarkets for a week starting Monday, Nov. 26, handing out information and taking both food and money donations. And that week, on Thursday, Nov. 29, the Journal will print the 2012 Food for People Report to the Community and Western Web will again insert those magic envelops.

This year, we are finally seeing a few rays of hope that the worst may be behind us. Financial markets are recovered. Unemployment at least is not worse. The housing market is steady. Businesses are getting loans again. Even gas prices came down in recent weeks. (Oh, and our president doesn't have to run for office again. Another reason to be thankful.) So please show Food for People how generous Journal readers can be for a second year.

Happy holidays.

-- Judy Hodgson

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Judy Hodgson

Bio:
Judy Hodgson is the publisher of the North Coast Journal.

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