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This holiday season, reach out to families in need

As we come into the holiday season, it is important to reflect on all that we as a community have to be thankful for.

I’ve never lived in a place that has so much to offer its residents, as well as one that possesses such a warm and welcoming feel as Durango and the surrounding area. During this time of the year, we often find ourselves in a festive mood, excited about the opportunities we have to enjoy family and friends. Many will be able to take time off from work and enjoy some rest and relaxation. What we often forget are the challenges many of our families face, not only during the holiday time, but throughout the year.

One in three children in Durango lives below the poverty line, with their parents and caregivers facing tremendous challenges to make ends meet. While some celebrate the time off from school, for the children in this segment of our community, it often means the loss of regular meals at breakfast and lunch, time at home unsupervised and the loss of a normal routine. Parents of these children work very hard to support their families while living in our costly community.

Be aware of the families in your neighborhood and reach out. I often think about my own neighborhood growing up, where neighbors knew each other and everyone truly took ownership and responsibility for the children on the block. While there are many great examples of that still in place, there are also many neighborhoods where folks don’t know who lives next door, and aside from the occasional wave, lives are lived in isolation. As we think about those who need our support in Durango, let’s not forget that some of them may be our own neighbors. I encourage you to reflect on how you can show your support now and throughout the year.

As we approach the holidays, be aware of the many opportunities that exist to show support. We have many churches and organizations that facilitate great programs to help. This year, many of our schools will engage in Project Merry Christmas, a chance to adopt a family and ensure that they too enjoy some holiday cheer. Many will support collection of food for our food banks and, of course, for our amazing Manna soup kitchen.

In addition, there are many chances to volunteer your time serving our community and those who require help. Whether it’s helping at the soup kitchen, volunteering for one of the support efforts sponsored by our churches in the community or ringing the bell at one of our Salvation Army kettle locations, there are many opportunities to help. Please get involved!

Remember that our community reflects the care and compassion of our residents. I challenge each and every one in Durango to show your generosity and your care for our neighbors by getting involved. Let’s make this a holiday season to remember for all of our residents of Durango and the greater La Plata County region.

Email Durango School District 9-R Superintendent Dan Snowberger at dsnowberger@durango.k12.co.us.