I have to say, I can't believe

it is November already.

We've no doubt gorged ourselves on the assorted sweet treats that we confiscated from our children's goody bags (or the ones we thought looked too good to hand out to the neighborhood kids in the first place) and now we enter into the seasons of thankfulness and giving.

Soon the posts will begin on Facebook indicating all of the things that people are thankful for along with wish lists disguised as not-so-subtle hints for Santa.

I am to the point in my life where aside from a couple packs of knee-hi stockings for work and someone to help me do some sorting and cleaning at my house, there really isn't anything that I need.

When thinking about my family, there really aren't any needs there either; at least none that can fit in a box underneath the Christmas tree.

I'm really thankful for that, even if it means that there are no presents to open Christmas morn.

Don't get me wrong, I really, really do love opening presents just for the sake of finding out what is inside.

You could wrap up a roll of toilet paper for me and I am happy with that just as long as it is something I can use.

Gifts that were not well thought out are also a big let down to me.

I don't care if you spent $500 on me. If it isn't something I like or will find use for, please don't buy it.

A set of pit passes to the next NASCAR race along with a signed Dale Earnhardt Jr. hat will get you one serious look of complete disgust mixed with confusion from me, and will ultimately just sit in a box somewhere in my house collecting dust indefinitely.

As I said in one of my previous columns, I already have too much stuff that I don't use or need that is cluttering up my house.

I have managed to donate some of it and have a couple more bags ready to go, but really, I need to do an official purge from top to bottom. (To my three daughters: this is a not-so subtle hint.)

However, when I step outside of my home and look up and down the street, I can identify several homes whose families have definite needs. Some of those needs are material while others involve the investment of one's time, assistance or even just a shoulder to lean on.

Every day at work I see people who, through no fault of their own, are about to lose their homes and can scarcely put food on the table. I spoke to a woman the other day whose neighbor couldn't even afford a stamp to place on the envelope to apply for heating assistance.

I know people who do not own a winter coat and others who water down milk just to make it last a little longer and I am thinking to myself, do I or my family need Christmas presents this year?

The answer is obvious, although I will have some explaining to do to my kids.

I simply cannot justify the frivolous spending when I personally know people who can't even afford the basic necessities within my community.

So today I begin my Christmas list.

A list not of things, but of people I can identify as needing some help.

I can't make all of their troubles go away, but perhaps I can ease the burden just a little and give them some hope that things will get better.

If nothing else, at least they can know that someone cares.

Maybe I can point them in the direction of services that may be able to assist them and then help them apply.

Perhaps I can help to meet some immediate needs such as buying food or heating oil or filling up the car with gas so they can get to or look for work.

I can offer to help out with tasks that some can no longer physically accomplish, but that I still can.

I can spend time with someone who is lonely or hurting.

So this year, my faithful readers, I am appealing to you to really open up your eyes and mind and look around you during these seasons of thankfulness and giving to identify those individuals who really need to feel and receive the blessings of the season. Be their Santa Claus, if you will.

"Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you." Luke 6:38

The amount of people who have serious needs in our communities is staggering, and is growing in number every day; and the harsh reality is, at any given moment, it could be you.

Are you in?