Anybody who’s lived through more than a few Christmases knows it really is better to give than to receive.

Here’s a look at three holiday efforts that have their hearts in the right places.

Christmas Cheer

Christmas Cheer got its start in 1910 and is known as one of the community’s oldest, continuously serving charities, said Christmas Cheer Board Chairman Don Smith.

“The Independent partnered with young members of the Young Women’s Christian Association to distribute toys and assistance to needy families then,” Smith said.

Now in its 109th year, Christmas Cheer is still making a difference in the lives of many local needy families, thanks to the generosity of Hall County citizens. This year’s goal is once again $60,000. The funds will allow Christmas Cheer to distribute food vouchers so families can enjoy a traditional holiday meal. Registrations have been up so far this season, indicating many more families are in need of help.

Donations should be designated as “Christmas Cheer” and dropped off at the newspaper office or mailed to The Independent at 422 W. First St., Grand Island, NE, 68801.

Last year, the program helped 2,794 individuals from 833 families. Qualifying families who didn’t apply through the Christmas Cheer website still have time to sign up by calling (402) 804-3929 from 7 to 10 p.m. starting Friday and running through 10 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4. Qualifying families should receive their vouchers in the mail by Dec. 18. The vouchers can only be redeemed for food purchases at Hy-Vee and Super Saver.

Salvation Army

Right now, the Salvation Army has six red kettles out, and the number will grow on Friday.

The good news is you can donate even if you’re not carrying cash. People may now support the event with their mobile devices. A sign above the kettle allows you to contribute with your Android or iPhone. You just put your phone up to the sign and you will be asked how much you want to donate, said Lt. Liza Ayala of the Grand Island Salvation Army.

You can also write a check.

The goal for this year’s red kettle campaign is $98,000.

The kettles will remain up until 2 p.m. Dec. 24.

People can also support the campaign by having packages wrapped at Conestoga Mall. Shoppers may buy gifts from any store and have them wrapped by Salvation Army supporters. Free-will offerings go to the Salvation Army.

Ayala pointed out that “everything we do here is for the community of Grand Island. We just hope that they will give and help us do what we do here.”

The Salvation Army also teams with the United Way in giving presents to area young people.

Toys for Tots

Heartland United Way is looking for donations from the public for the annual Toys for Tots campaign.

The main dropoff locations are Heartland United Way, 1441 N. Webb Road, and Hobby Town USA.

“We are in need of a lot of toys,” says Cammie Benson, Heartland United Way’s director of community engagement.

Sought are new, unwrapped toys for kids up to 12 years of age.

Toys for Tots is sponsored by Heartland United Way, the U.S. Marine Corps and the Salvation Army.

The toys will be distributed on Dec. 16 in the Quilt Room of the Pinnacle Bank Expo Center. To register, visit The deadline to sign up is Dec. 2, although there will be a wait list.

Each year, the effort provides toys to about 2,000 kids.

Donated toys will be accepted until about Dec. 11, Benson said.

In addition to toys donated by the public, many of United Way’s Pacesetter businesses are doing toy drives, Benson said.

Toys for older kids (13 and older) go to the Salvation Army for distribution.

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