Keep the spirit alive

Both Oak Harbor and Coupeville displayed impressive holiday spirit on Thanksgiving, doling out free dinners lovingly prepared by volunteers whose only payment was the thanks and smiles offered by the recipients.

Meanwhile, our local food banks, North Whidbey Help House and Central Whidbey’s Gifts from the Heart, reported an increase in the number of people needing help this year, but also an increase in donations.

Thanks to such efforts, no one on North or Central Whidbey needed to go hungry on Thanksgiving.

Whidbey Island residents who have jobs or other income must remember to keep their spirit of giving alive during the Christmas season and, indeed, for the foreseeable future. The news from the outside world is nothing short of bleak. Unemployment hovers around 17 percent in the U.S. if all those looking for work and who have given up looking are counted. Figures like that haven’t been seen since the Great Depression. The country is at war and the president appears ready to escalate one of those wars. That means higher taxes, more spending outside our borders, and more lives of courageous Americans put on the line for dubious reasons. Meanwhile, sovereign wealth funds with their vast billions of dollars in investments are starting to tumble, as is happening in Dubai, and prospects for the commercial real estate market are said to be dismal.

Economic concerns are endless, from the enormous U.S. budget deficit, to Washington state’s latest multi-billion dollar budget hole, to the struggles of Island County and its three towns to keep some semblance of good government in place during dire times.

Ironically, all of this is coming in what is traditionally the season of good cheer. But we don’t need government to keep hope alive. As Whidbey Islanders showed on Thanksgiving, we can do it ourselves. But it’s pretty clear that we’ll all have to do a little more in the coming weeks and months.

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