It’s December. Let that sink in.

If the days of our year seem rushed and that rush seems to become a sprint the older we get, December always seems to be a dead run. Work and family obligations continue unabated even as we add holiday parties, holiday shopping, holiday everything. And it’s all done in shorter days with less daylight than at any other time of the year. Is it any wonder that Scrooge is almost as iconic as Santa?

Yet, somehow, the good among us — and their number is legion — make time for uncommon good.

Take, for instance, the dozens of people who make Coastside Hope’s Adopt-a-Family program a staple of the holidays here. On Sunday, good people gave up some of their day (in the midst of their busiest days) to wrap presents for low-income Coastsiders and seniors in need of a little holiday cheer. If history is any judge, that effort will make the holidays brighter for hundreds of your neighbors south of Devil’s Slide. It’s too late to give specifically to this year’s effort, but Coastside Hope can always use your help (coastsidehope.org).

Further south, Puente and its crowd of volunteers and donors is never outdone. This year, it created a winter gift card program that will help 220 local families shop for gifts and groceries. The agency sees the program as part of its bridge to independence. You can help, but you have to act fast. Today is the deadline to donate to the winter gift card program, though Puente will thank you for your help all year long (mypuente.org.)

Here in Pacifica, so much of the safety net is woven in place by the people at Pacifica Resource Center. The city’s premier social services organization provides Thanksgiving turkeys for families that might not otherwise have them. The Holiday Joy Gift Program asks kids from qualifying families to write a letter noting what they would like. Volunteer “Santas” step in to make those dreams come true.

Poverty is a cancer that continues to eat its way through families, and the pandemic has made the situation so much worse. The World Bank estimated earlier this year that COVID-19 alone caused as many as 97 million more people around the world to fall into extreme poverty. If that number feels too enormous to understand, consider that, closer to home, poverty — defined as a family of four earning less than $26,695 a year — increased one percentage point in 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Today, more than 11 percent of Americans live in poverty. The pandemic cost millions their jobs and for many of them that was the least of their problems. It also reversed a years-long trend of easing poverty in the United States.

Each of these people are their own stories. Your donations, to local nonprofits doing the hard work that is required in our own communities, can change the narrative for your neighbors in need.

December is all about giving. Thank you for doing whatever you can to make the world a more joyous place.

 — Clay Lambert

Clay Lambert is the editorial director for Coastside News Group. After years working at regional daily newspapers, he began as editor of the Half Moon Bay Review in 2004.

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