Friday, December 01, 2023

EDITORIAL: Program delivers another blow to poverty

| January 1, 2023 1:00 AM

Christmas for All.

That’s what it says on the paperwork verifying this newspaper’s holiday program as a legitimate 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

Over the years, “Press” has been tacked onto the front of the package, making the fundraiser a little more specific and recognizable to donors.

And now, after several years working with the magnificent Maggie Lyons and her team at Charity Reimagined, another word has unofficially attached itself to the end of the title: Press Christmas for All Year. More on that in a minute.

Christmas for All started humbly 37 holiday seasons ago. There were shifts in the program along the way, particularly in the early 2000s, when the fundraiser stopped collecting toys and other items and switched to tax-deductible monetary donations.

One big incentive was that the program’s managers would leverage cash donations with local businesses offering discounts on gift cards. That’s what Super 1 continues to do to this day: Our friends at Super 1 give the program 10% more when we buy their gift cards, so a $75,000 gift card purchase actually becomes $82,500 in gift cards.

Another major evolution in the program occurred in 2019. That’s when Maggie and her Charity Reimagined brainchild helped transform Christmas for All into a program that helps Kootenai County residents throughout the year, not just at Christmastime. Maggie’s mission is to restore and promote the dignity and self-reliance of those most in need, and the “hand up” vs. “handout” motto resonated.

This is not a rap on any other holiday program’s knuckles: Kids who otherwise would have nothing under the tree or adults who wouldn’t otherwise be able to enjoy a holiday feast are well-served by free meals and gifted toys. But those are temporary engines of good feelings. Press Christmas for All Year wanted to make a deeper, more meaningful contribution to the good of our community, so recipients are screened to ensure they’re doing their very best to shrug off the shrouds of poverty permanently.

As Press Managing Editor Maureen Dolan outlined on Wednesday, the $183,300 collected this holiday season will help people improve their lives and those of their families long after the Christmas snow has melted.

That alone is reason to celebrate the old year and embrace the new one.

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