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Maybe it's the weather. It's hard to think of helping others at Christmas when it's been 60 degrees and sunny. The calendar may say December but your heart says October.

Or April.

Maybe Illinois' budget woes have trickled down to individual neighborhoods. Maybe more groups than ever before are asking for donations, with the result being that fewer groups are making a lot of headway.

Regardless of the reason, groups that help the less fortunate at the holidays are hurting themselves, with traditional campaigns getting off to slow starts with just a few weeks remaining before Santa gets in his sleigh.

The Salvation Army annual campaign, for instance, has raised just 30 percent of its goal for a campaign that ends Dec. 23. Other groups are looking for volunteers to deliver, wrap and buy gifts. New groups have formed online to pair people in need with people who can help — whether it's clothes, toys, a refrigerator problem or a ride to church.

Talking to Health Editor Paul Swiech, Salvation Army Development Director Angie Bubon said giving was lower than usual for late November. "With people doing more and more shopping online, brick-and-mortar stores are seeing less traffic, which affects how our kettles perform," she said.

In addition, many Central Illinoisans donated generously earlier this fall to agencies providing relief after hurricanes devastated parts of Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands, she said.

"Sometimes, that (national giving) can lead to a drop in numbers for local fundraising," Bubon said.

If you can donate during this holiday season, please consider helping one of the many social service agencies in Central Illinois, or providing money to your church, to another nonprofit agency, a food or clothing bank, or a group that helps those in need. If you can't afford to donate — and not everyone can — consider volunteering or offering to shovel snow for a neighbor.

Here are some agencies to keep in mind: Home Sweet Home Ministries, www.hshministries.org; Salvation Army of Livingston County, 815-844-5005; Salvation Army of McLean County, 309-829-9476; The Baby Fold's Christmas Wish List Program, 309-451-7202 or email kkirby@thebabyfold.org; Book Showers for Literacy, 309-838-8306; Children's Home + Aid Adopt-A-Family, 309-834-5275 or email lcordero@childrenshomeandaid.org; U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots, toysfortotsmcleancounty@gmail.com or at 309-319-1056.

Remember Pearl Harbor

It's been 76 years since the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, pushing America into World War II with a horrific jolt. But decades later, the importance of that day — and its aftermath — still resonates.

By war's end, the world had seen the faces and ashes left by ethnic cleansing and the destruction wrought by a nuclear device used over Japan.

Remember those lessons, for they live on today.

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