Plenty of ways to spread love this holiday season

Published 9:22 am Thursday, December 10, 2015

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a good friend of mine and his efforts to visit Syria to aid refugees who have fled there. August successfully raised enough money for his travel expenses and leaves just after Christmas to do whatever he can to help solve the problem.

August’s mission inspired me, and there are so many other inspiring efforts that deserve credit, especially during the giving season before the holidays. It’s almost overwhelming to see all of the special dinners, fundraisers, food drives and activities offered to help make this season a little brighter for those in need.

The Feed the Hungry program in Dowagiac, for example, is a valiant effort to keep bellies full not just during the holidays, but all year long. Jim Allen is relentless in his efforts and just reached the halfway mark of the incredible $20,000 goal. Thanks to his efforts and the generosity of the community, far fewer people will go hungry as the program fills local food banks.

Area food banks that the Edwardsbrug Food Pantry, Helping Hands of Cass County in Cassopolis and ACTION Ministries in Dowagiac are also doing their part to feed the hungry this winter, and various organizations and student groups have hosted drives to help their efforts.

Bell ringers from various organizations all over Cass and Berrien County have been standing outside department stores, shopping malls and other highly trafficked businesses to college spare change for those in need. One of the largest fundraisers of the year, money collected benefits a variety of efforts, including helping pay rent and utility bills for families in need.

The Michigan State Police Niles post recently collected cars full of toys for its “Stuff a Blue Goose” event. The unopened goodies will be distributed to children in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in all of Berrien and Cass Counties, and the police department is still collecting items to donate to the children. If you’d like to contribute to the effort, you can drop off items at the police station, located at 1600 Silverbrook Ave., in Niles.

You can also drop off unwrapped toys here at Leader Publications. A representative from Toys for Tots will pick up the collections Friday, Dec. 18. Our office is located at 217 N. Fourth St., in Niles.

I wish I had an infinite amount of space to share all of your efforts, but unfortunately my space is limited. I can say that I’m proud to live and work in a community where there isn’t enough room to list all of the wonderful things happening. It’s truly inspiring to see the generosity and dedication to the well-being of others.

If you are hosting a fundraiser or other volunteer effort, please let us know. We’d be happy to publicize it for free in our publications. Events can be submitted through our website, mailed to our office or emailed to

Thank you all for your kindness. Have a very happy holiday.


Ambrosia Neldon is the managing editor at Leader Publications. She can be reached by phone at (269) 687-7713, or by email at