As you sit back and count your blessings today beautiful gifts, sumptuous food, your health and the company of family and friends take a moment to think about others who may not be so fortunate.
Often, as we sit in the comfort of our homes, it is difficult to even conceive that some people have no home, yet alone gifts and warm meals during the holiday season. It's hard to imagine, and often even frightening, to think about what it would be like to live with a serious health problem or disability.
Yet thousands of people throughout our community live with so much less than we do every day. What better time than the holiday season to try to do something that can make their lives a little better? And what better way than through The Morning Call's Be an Angel campaign, which gives you the opportunity to find out just what people and the agencies who serve them need.
Each day we have received reports of people who are experiencing the joy of giving generous people who earn their wings by finding a wish they could fill on the extensive Be an Angel wish list. And those who are receiving their goodwill couldn't be happier.
''We were truly blessed by a kind and caring angel at Rockhill Mennonite Community Adult Day Services by the name of Dawn Maynard,'' says Melanie Loder, coordinator of Adult Day Services. Maynard truly is an angel. She fulfilled all three of Rockhill's wishes. She and her family are donating a piano, a thistle feeder for the center's bird visitors and a plant table, including some of her own cuttings, for the center's clients to work with.
Mercy Special Learning Center, which educates both children and adults with mental retardation and learning disabilities, ''has been gifted twice'' by generous angels, reports Sherry Quist, our contact at the center. ''We received a check to cover the purchase of the sewing machine we asked for, and then another check arrived to cover two cases of swim pants for when we go to the Rodale Aquatic Center for classes for our clients.''
La Leche League of Bethlehem received two of its three wishes, says contact Valerie Bittner. Susan and Scott Yeaw of Nazareth donated both a copier and a trade-show display. ''This unbelievably generous gift will help us continue to provide information and support to area breast-feeding families through our quarterly newsletter and area baby and health fairs,'' Bittner says.
About 150 angels attending a special Be an Angel benefit performance at Diamonz in Bethlehem last Friday helped raise $1,358 to be donated to the AIDS Services Center in Bethlehem, reports Denise and Angelo Grello. Of course, earning their wings as well were show organizers and the performers who donated their talents for the cause.
Lehigh Valley Hospital Outpatient Pediatric Department's Reach Out and Read Program has been blessed by angels donating $375 in cash and six books, says Betty Anton, director of volunteer services. Many more are still needed.
A fax machine has been donated by a ''private citizen'' to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley, reports Harry James Irvin Jr., vice president of programs.
The Catholic Social Agency's Refugee Resettlement Program has received more donations of household goods, including personal-care items, dishes, lamps, bedding, pots and pans, utensils, a toaster, a George Foreman grill, a coffee maker and handmade scarves and afghans, says Marla Sell, refugee resettlement caseworker.
The Nurse Partnership Program at the Allentown Health Bureau also received more donations, says our contact, Trish Knoblauch. Two angels donated a total of 25 developmental toys for infants and toddlers. An angel who made a previous donation came back to donate 15 of these. Another angel donated 10. And, a city worker who wishes to remain anonymous, donated five board games.
The Little Rascals 4-H Club in Northampton County made a sizeable donation, as well two packs each of diapers in sizes newborn, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5; four tubes of diaper ointment; four bottles of baby bath lotion; four boxes of baby wipes; two packs of disposable spoons; a pack of nondisposable baby spoons; 2 spill-proof ''sippy'' cups; four teething rings, and four bowls.
These items ''certainly have been welcome gifts for many new moms and their babies in our program,'' Knoblauch says.
Angels David and Lois Prytherch of Palmer Township donated Adobe Photoshop software to the Family YMCA of Easton, Phillipsburg and Vicinity. ''We recently brought the design and production of our newsletter in-house. Having this gift will enable us to produce a quality piece,'' says director of development Belen B. Herner.
Home Depot in Bethlehem is donating the 240-foot-wide, 6-foot-tall white fence needed by The Banana Factory for its parking lot to keep children attending classes and camps safe. And two angels, Lisa Matthew of Bethlehem and Lori Esslinger of Allentown, donated 35 frames to be used to frame the artworks of at-risk students who attend classes at Banana Factory.
Angels in The Morning Call's newsroom donated books and arts supplies to Lehigh Valley Child Care in Allentown.
Thanks to donations by angels, Ann B. McManus at Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley and Northeast PA says she has volunteers lined up from January through April to pack Commodity Supplemental Food Program boxes for needy seniors in our area. Agere Systems is volunteering for two months and Keenan House and Air Products, a month each. In addition, at least one group has called to schedule a Valentine's Day food drive, addressing another food-bank wish.
And, LifePath Inc. in Bethlehem has received several donations of arts-and-crafts supplies and board games for the developmentally disabled individuals it serves, reports Ainsley Lamberton, assistant director of public affairs.
Jennifer Sparling of Bethlehem earned her wings by donating three books to the Miller-Keystone Blood Center in Bethlehem for its newly opened play area, where children can entertain themselves while their parents give blood donations.
''We thanked her, of course, and she protested that she didn't need any thanks, but that is the way angels are,'' says our contact, Mary Liz Bauer.
Angels have been so generous, yet many more are needed to answer the needs of nonprofit agencies in our region. Only a week remains to earn your wings and learn how good it feels to help those who are less fortunate. The campaign ends Jan. 2.
If you haven't held on to the massive wish list published Nov. 28, you can access it online at www.mcall.com. Click on the Be an Angel icon, where you will find a database that can be searched by agency, category of agency (Health Care, Family, etc.), keywords, location and even specific items you'd like to donate.