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Many of our neighbors did not have a bountiful spread on Thursday. Some went to bed hungry. There will always be some who get by largely because of the generosity of others.

However, without that charitable giving there will be no Christmas dinner and no gifts under the Christmas tree for many children. We remain optimistic that the people of Pine Bluff and Southeast Arkansas will respond as they have in the past, continuing to help others, giving of their time and money.

We also encourage donations to The Commercial’s annual Christmas Card Fund to aid needy children in Jefferson County. Since it started in 1987, the fund has raised many thousands of dollars for area school children. Donations to the fund are divided among the Pine Bluff, Dollarway, Watson Chapel and White Hall school districts based on enrollment.

Over the decades, the fund has helped hundreds and hundreds of children who needed warm clothes, shoes, eye glasses, hot meals and school supplies. All donations received by The Commercial are dispensed to the school districts. There’s no administration costs at the newspaper and all the proceeds go to the schools.

Sometimes, schools have used the program to help entire families who faced tragedies such as house fires that destroyed everything. Last year, an educator from the Dollarway School District said the district was able to purchase 15 pairs of shoes for children.

Participants who contribute at least $1 will have their names published on a Christmas Card in the newspaper, which will run before Christmas Day. The fund will accept anonymous donations, memorial donations and donations in honor of a loved one.

Interested donors may send contributions to Christmas Card Fund, Pine Bluff Commercial, P.O. Box 6469, Pine Bluff, Ark. 71611. Donations may also be brought to the office at 300 Beech St., weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Call for volunteers

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The Pine Bluff Salvation Army is calling upon area residents to consider spending some time as a bell ringer for the charity’s annual Red Kettle campaign that began at area businesses Nov. 19 and runs through Dec. 24.

The goal for the campaign is $80,000, with volunteer ringers deployed to local Brookshire’s grocery stores, the Walmart Supercenter, two USA Drug stores, J.C. Penney at The Pines mall, Fred’s discount store on Blake Street and Cranford’s Fresh World grocery in White Hall.

The campaign depends upon a strong volunteer showing in order for the money that is collected to provide food, clothing and shelter to those in need. Paid ringers are used on an as-needed basis to fill in the gaps left when volunteers cannot be found to staff specific locations at specific hours of the day.

Paid ringer positions are kept to a minimum because it cuts into the bottom line of charitable donations.

Taking time to spend an hour ringing bells is truly a way to help spread holiday cheer. The last week of the campaign is in particular need of volunteers. Individuals interested in volunteering as a bell ringer should call the Salvation Army’s Pine Bluff office at 534-0504.

Tired of violence

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Citizens tired of the violence and negativity in Pine Bluff are taking their message to the streets and to our elected officials.

The message “Take Back Pine Bluff” is a rallying cry for those organizing meetings, rallies and protests since the Nov. 13 shooting outside the Three Gables nightclub that left one man dead and three wounded.

Crime is at the root of many of Pine Bluff’s problems. Addressing crime will allow families and children to feel comfortable getting back out into the parks and streets in their neighborhoods.

We have attended too many funerals for victims of violence.

It is, as one voice for sanity noted, “time to put up or shut up.”