Editorial<br><br>Create a new tradition by donating to local charities

• For over 35 years, the Epsilon Sigma Alpha sorority has sent Christmas boxes to military members from the Williams community. The boxes are an annual tradition and servicemen and women eagerly anticipate the arrival of these boxes from home every year. The boxes were filled with homemade cookies, non-perishable food items, toiletries, an Arizona Highways, Williams-Grand Canyon News and a pine branch.

Longtime resident and ESA member Dorothy Miller was overwhelmed with the generosity of the community this year. Several organizations donated money to pay for postage. The Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors hosted a mixer in conjunction with Prudential Foothills Real Estate. One hundred percent of the 50/50 drawing was presented to ESA. Those in attendance donated items for the Christmas boxes. Miller received many other donations as well from businesses and residents.

If you did not have the opportunity to donate to ESA’s Christmas box project, donations are still being accepted. Any donations will be utilized not only for Christmas boxes 2005, but to send packages throughout the year to servicemen and women serving in Iraq. Contact Miller at 635-4330.

• The Williams Emergency Food Bank prepared 110 50-pound Thanksgiving food boxes for area residents who might not otherwise have had a holiday meal. Each month, the WEFB collects and distributes between 4,000 and 5,000 pounds of food to area residents.

While there is oftentimes an ample amount of food to distribute during the holiday season, the six months that follow can be sparse, said Guy Mikkelsen, director of the WEFB.

“We need donations all year long. The first half of the year is a real struggle,” says Mikkelsen.

The WEFB is operated out of the St. Agnes Apartments, 200 S. Ninth St., where donations are always welcome. Mikkelsen can be contacted at (928) 635-2913.

• Starting on Friday, the Salvation Army bells will be heard through Dec. 21. Bell ringers are needed at National Bank and Stockmen’s Bank the next three Fridays. Bell ringers are needed at both banks and Safeway the next three Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The best part about bell ringing is no experience is required.

Salvation Army volunteers ring bells to encourage the public to donate to the Salvation Army fund. All monies donated remain in Williams to help those in need and send children to camp. If you have received help from the Salvation Army in the past, volunteering to ring a bell is a great way to repay what you have received.

If you have never had the pleasure of watching individuals caught up in the holiday spirit give when there’s less than usual to give, contact Carol DeLander at 635-4426. Ringing the bell is one of the most important things anyone can do to help out this local charity.

• The Williams Lions Club is sponsoring the Toys for Tots Drive to provide toys for children who otherwise might be overlooked by Santa. “Angel cards” will be placed on Christmas trees at National Bank of Arizona, the Stockmen’s Bank and the Williams Ranger District. Anyone wishing to provide a toy for a needy child can select a card from a tree, purchase a toy suitable for the child chosen, wrap the gift and return it to the location where they were selected by Dec. 16.

Williams Lions Club members will deliver the gifts to children’s homes before Christmas. Due to the number of toys already received, there will be fewer “angel cards” available, so stop by and select a child early. If you are aware of children 12 or under who should be included in the toy drive, contact Lion Edie Phillips at (928) 635-4784 with the child’s name, age, sex and address so they may be included in the list.

Cash donations and unwrapped gifts will be accepted. Sierra Miller of The Christmas Tree Gallery, 402 E. Route 66, has offered to serve as a drop off point for unwrapped gifts.

• The Williams Kiwanis Club is seeking donations of food, gifts and cash to host its Second Annual Holiday Dinner. The dinner will be held from noon-2 p.m. on Dec. 12 at Doc Holliday’s Steakhouse. The guests of honor will be individuals in need. The dinner is by invitation only.

Last year’s dinner fed 195 people and the Kiwanis Club hopes to feed more this season. As with the 2003 dinner, families and individuals will have the opportunity to enjoy their choice of either ham or turkey with all the trimmings, gift stockings, and pictures with Santa for the kids. Doc Holliday’s owners, Kevin and Sherrill Kennelly are providing their restaurant, and many others are donating turkeys, hams or dollars to help buy what is needed. Volunteers to handle various aspects are also needed.

To donate or volunteer, contact Kiwanis President Harry Strauss at 635-1441.

• The Coconino County Community Services in the Williams Senior Center is seeking donations for Christmas food boxes. Last year under the direction of Millie Reed, more than 100 boxes were distributed to local families in time for Christmas. Reed says she will accept anything that would make a great box. Clothing, canned goods, non-perishable items, dry goods, turkeys and hams are items that are needed to fill the boxes.

Donations can be dropped off at the Williams Senior Center, 850 W. Grant Ave., from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, contact Reed at 635-2628.

• The Grand Canyon Railway & Resort is accepting food and toy donations in conjunction with the Polar Express™. New, unwrapped toys and non-perishable food items are being collected at the depot. The toys will be presented to the Annual Law Enforcement Toy Drive and will be distributed throughout northern Arizona. The food will be distributed in Williams.

This is the fourth consecutive year that the GCR has spearheaded a toy collection and food drive. Last year, 2,000 pounds of food were collected. This year, coordinators of the food drive hope to exceed that amount.

If you did not know about the toy collection and food drive, it’s never too late to donate. Contact the GCR at (800) THE-TRAIN or visit www.thetrain.com.

Keep the Christmas spirit alive in Williams by donating to any one of these charitable organizations. The old adage, “It is better to give than to receive” rings true this time of the year in Williams. It doesn’t matter how much you have to give. Quantity is not what is important. The rewards you will personally reap will increase your own joy and appreciation of the holiday season.

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