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Commentary By Terri Lee Freeman: The 'Year Of Giving'

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As families gather to give thanks and our thoughts turn to those less fortunate, commentator Terri Lee Freeman, president of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, suggests it's time to extend the giving season far beyond the winter holidays:

The table's been set, the relatives are on their way, so let the holidays begin!

Along with the shopping, cooking and parties this time of year, many of us feel a strong desire to help those less fortunate. It is, as they say, better to give than to receive.

There's an overwhelming need in our community and our local nonprofits depend on your support as the year draws to a close.

Economic uncertainty is profound…but with three out of 10 children in the nation's capital living in poverty, 148,000 mortgages in default, alarmingly high unemployment and deep government cuts for social and human services just around the corner, I feel both compelled and inspired to launch a new campaign. One that extends the giving season far beyond the holidays.

I declare 2011 to be the Year of Giving.

Next year's challenges will be greater than any we've experienced. They'll demand that we renew our commitment to our neighbors in need.

With the first snow storm, we must support hypothermia shelters that shield our homeless brothers and sisters from the harshest winter months.

In the spring, let's remember the region's free clinics that provide uninsured families with inhalers and allergy medications that can mean the difference between life and death.

While it is particularly awful to face the prospect of eviction in the winter cold, it is equally so in the brutal heat of a D.C. summer.

And let's not forget children who receive free or reduced lunches during the school year. Backpacks provided by local nonprofits and filled with healthy food mean our children won't go to bed hungry -- winter, spring, summer or fall. Those same children depend on us for warm coats when the days grow shorter and the nights grow colder.

While many view the holidays as the time of greatest need for our neighbors living in poverty, they need us all year long because domestic violence, foreclosures and hunger know no season.

Please join The Community Foundation in supporting our neighbors in need and strengthening the local safety net this month, next month and throughout 2011 and beyond.

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