Most of us have stuffed ourselves with a big Thanksgiving meal by now, and many have braved the crowds for their Black Friday (or even Gray Thursday) shopping spree.
Local parades have come and gone, snow is on the ground and a general feeling of merriment has begun to spread through our communities as the Christmas season is fully underway.
We often get caught up in making our own preparations, getting out the decorations, planning meals and parties, getting the baking done, sending out cards, buying presents and visiting family and friends.
At the same time, we must remember that not everyone is able to have so much enjoyment for the holidays.
While officials say the unemployment situation in our region is improving, there still are many in our area who do not have a job or are unable to afford the big dinners or those special gifts for their family members. There are those who have to choose whether to heat their homes over buying that new toy or video game system.
Fortunately, our area also has many opportunities to help out those in need, especially during this holiday season.
Going to our local stores, we are bound to hear the familiar ringing sound from volunteers manning the red kettles of the Salvation Army, collecting to benefit the organization's programs to give back for Christmas.
Our local Salvation Army provides food distributions for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, with much of the money collected going to assist in the purchase of food for those in need.
In addition, they provide toys through their Angel Tree program, which is supported by many of our area businesses and organizations who display trees with the wish lists of local children who otherwise might not be able to receive a present for Christmas.
Our area has always shown its support for the Salvation Army, which is good because without such support many of these programs wouldn't be possible.
But, we also can't forget some of our local groups, such as the Community Bread Basket and other local food pantries.
These groups, too, work throughout the year to provide food and other essentials to those in need.
They rely entirely on grants and donations, so it is important they receive support from the surrounding communities.
At the same time, we also should remember the Weirton United Way, which currently is in the midst of its annual campaign.
Funding from the campaign assists several area organizations, which might not be able to provide their programs without the funding it raises.
Groups such as the Boys and Girls Club of Weirton, which provides after-school opportunities for local children; the Mary H. Weir Public Library, which holds literacy programs for residents; the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts; the Dunbar Recreation Center and many others rely on such funding assistance.
While the United Way holds many events throughout the year, the holidays are an opportunity to also think about this organization and all those it helps in our community.
The holidays are a time of giving, and while many of us are now in positions where we have to watch our money a little more closely, we can still find ways to give and help to brighten the holidays of those who have less than we do.
Whether you give a couple dollars from your shopping change to the bell ringers, take up a collection at work to buy some toys for a child or purchase some non-perishable food to ensure a meal for a local family, who are giving back and brightening someone's day, even if it might seem simple for the rest of us.
I would encourage everyone to find some way to help out those who need it this holiday season. Whether you give up your specialty coffee for a day, pack a lunch instead of eating out, carpool to save on gas, or turn in some of those recyclable materials.
Even if it just provides a few dollars, that's something that can still help out those who need it.
(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at email@example.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)