Christmas Tree Countertop Ornament

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The “holiday” retail season has expanded beyond December into Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and pre-Thanksgiving sales. We could complain about Christmas commercialization and mourn the loss of Christmas past, but holiday sale jingles would drown out those objections. So what are we to do about the commercial dilution of a season that many consider sacred?

If actions speak louder than words, how much louder than TV commercials could collaborative, benevolent communities speak about Christmas values? What lasting impressions can we give our children by reaching beyond traditions, creeds, and fellowships of faith in public celebration of our shared values as a community of faith? Sullivan County and surrounding communities have many opportunities to make Christmas 2015 more of a celebration of God’s Kingdom than a glorification of elves, eggnog, and electronics.

Sullivan County’s most notable community event will be “Christmas in the Park” on December 12, 2015, at the Sullivan City Park, beginning at 6:00 PM. Churches across Sullivan County will continue the Revive Sullivan spirit in a non-denominational presentation of an interactive journey to 4 B.C. Bethlehem. Travelers complying with Caesar’s census decree will find merchants, tax collectors, Roman soldiers, and Bethlehem’s residents wondering about the mysterious event that has attracted Far Eastern royalty to the small Middle Eastern city.

Patrons of Baesler’s, Save-A-Lot, and Walmart in Sullivan, and Bloomfield IGA, Baesler’s, Wal-Mart and Save-A-Lot in Greene County, can  support the Salvation Army with financial contributions at the bell ringing stations to help local families with food, shelter, utilities, and other emergency needs with financial contributions at bell ringing stations. Local volunteers have always been the backbone of this 125-year-old institution because donors respond more generously to their bell-ringing neighbors. Lela Street welcomes Sullivan County bell ringer volunteers to schedule their service by calling her at 812-268-5958, and Christa Turpin welcomes Greene County bell ringer volunteers to schedule their service by calling her at 812-325-1415.

Our Father’s Arms can always use tax-deductible financial contributions to support the charity’s food pantry and poverty relief efforts. Financial support is particularly critical for the organization’s Brown Bagger School Food Program, which provides meals to impoverished children that have nothing to eat when school is not in session. Supporters can visit Our Father’s Arms at 711 South Section St., Sullivan, IN 47882, or call at 812-268-1082.

Rebounding from an unexpected loss of institutional support, Christmas For Kids Sullivan (formerly known as “Toys for Tots Sullivan County”) is gathering toys to provide Christmas gifts for children that may lack Christmas trees or gifts under the trees this year. Generous people can support this important effort by delivering tax deductible contributions to Christmas For Kids Sullivan at PO Box 44, Dugger, IN 47438.

Greene County residents can support the Greene County Clothe-A-Child and Toys for Tots programs by delivering monetary contributions and toy donations to Reister and Strueh, at 18 S. Franklin Street in Bloomfield. For more information, people can contact Karen Strueh by email at, or by telephone at 812-384-3531.

So how can warmhearted people reclaim Christmas from noisy commerce? They can make their own noise by singing carols in the City Park, ringing Salvation Army bells, and tearing checks from their checkbooks to support our local benevolent organizations. We can teach our children the importance of sharing time and money in our community as Christmas gifts in the good old modern days.

Jeff R. Hawkins and Jennifer J. Hawkins are Trust & Estate Specialty Board Certified Indiana Trust & Estate Lawyers and active members of the Indiana State Bar Association and National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. Both lawyers are admitted to practice law in Indiana, and Jeff Hawkins is admitted to practice law in Illinois. Jeff is also a registered civil mediator, a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and the Indiana Bar Foundation;  a member of the Illinois State Bar Association and the Indiana Association of Mediators; and he was the 2014-15 President of the Indiana State Bar Association.

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