The holidays are traditionally a time when we gather with our loved ones and friends to share the most important gift in life – love – with those who mean the most to us.

However, for many this is a time of great sadness and despair. Those alone in this world observe others around them celebrating the joy that the season brings but have no one with which to share. Feelings of being lost, forgotten and isolated can abound.

I recall how a few years ago amidst holiday shopping I sat down in the mall next to an elderly woman to take a break. Shortly after collecting myself, the woman reached over and said, “I am lonely you know.” Her gentle voice and desperation reminded me what the season was really all about. I took her to lunch and listened to her reminisce of a time in life when she was surrounded by her loved ones. It was a simple gesture and small sacrifice that made a meaningful difference in her life that day.

During the festive season, many people and organizations reach out to share joy and make a difference by purchasing gifts and extending a charitable hand to those in need. And while these things can and do brighten the day of a child in foster care or an individual or family that is struggling, it can’t replace that inner need and deep desire we all have to be loved, valued, and belong to a family or community. This can only be accomplished by building relationships, investing  time and offering sincere, concrete support in time of need.

Brevard is a giving community and I am proud to reside here. As we consider what the holiday season means to us and celebrate the good fortune we have, let’s not forget others who are less fortunate. Reach out  beyond the season and make a meaningful and lasting difference in the life of someone in need of hope and healing.

Remember, “To the world you may only be one person, but to one person you may be the world!”

Happy Holidays!