The holiday season that officially begins this weekend is a time to celebrate, relax and reflect.  

We can celebrate and give thanks for all that is special about our community. From the diversity of the people who live here to the first-class education system to the wide variety of opportunities, there’s a lot to like about Prince William County and Northern Virginia.

Yes, there are challenges.  Roads are too crowded, schools are bursting at the seams, and it often seems as though we’re losing too much green space to development.  But we are thankful to be able to freely express our opinions about these challenges and to elect leaders who we believe are best equipped to deal with them.  There are plenty of communities in America that would love to have the challenges we face, and there are plenty of people in the world who would love to be able to express their opinions without persecution and to vote in truly democratic elections.

But as we give thanks for all that we have, we must not forget that despite all the wealth in Prince William and Northern Virginia, there is poverty.  Thousands of residents – our neighbors -- are living in tents in the woods, are struggling to pay their utility bills, and can’t afford to buy Christmas presents for their children.  

That is why InsideNoVa is delighted to partner with the Prince William Corps of the Salvation Army to help those who are less fortunate through the Christmas Basket campaign.  This effort was started in 1972 by Paul Muse, then publisher of the Potomac News. InsideNoVa took over the campaign after the successor newspaper News & Messenger closed in 2012.   All money raised through the campaign stays right here in Prince William and will be used by the local Salvation Army to help families pay their bills, buy groceries and have an enjoyable holiday.

Under its new Prince William leaders, Sgts. Marjorie and Anthony Rowe, the Salvation Army has recommitted to our community.  And that’s good because the need is great. By mid-November, the local corps had already received requests to help with Christmas presents for more than 1,100 children.  That’s 1,100 children in our community who without our help might wake up to empty stockings on Christmas morning.  

So as you give thanks this weekend for all that we have, we ask you to please help those who don’t have as much.  Whether you give to the Christmas Basket campaign or another charity, please help support those who are struggling to support themselves.

Thank you, and happy Thanksgiving!

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