The Help-A-Family drive spearheaded by Newsday Charities is one of...

The Help-A-Family drive spearheaded by Newsday Charities is one of the most effective ways to help fellow Long Islanders. Credit: iStock

It's easy to talk about the little complaints during the holiday season: the red coffee cups without ornament decorations, the glacier display without a Christmas tree, or the increasingly early date the holiday music starts playing on the radio.

It's more difficult, but far more important, to tackle big challenges at this time of year. Even as there's evidence that shows an economy that's growing and a job market that's expanding, there are far too many Long Islanders who aren't seeing or feeling that financial success. Too many aren't sure how they're going to feed their families or pay for the roof over their heads. Too many have lost a job or are finding that what's in their paycheck is no longer enough to get by. Too many teeter on the edge.

Too many need our help.

But here's the good news: There's something we can do, together. And it can start now.

The Help-A-Family drive spearheaded by Newsday Charities is one of the most effective ways to help fellow Long Islanders. Every contribution, large or small, goes directly to Long Islanders in need. Not a penny of Help-A-Family donations goes toward administrative costs. What's more, every donation is met with a 50 percent match from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, because Newsday Charities is one of the foundation's fund partners. That means a $100 contribution becomes $150.

This year, the campaign is focused on lifting local residents out of poverty. The goal is to help organizations that address key concerns like hunger, homelessness and the needs of our children. There are dozens of local charities that work every day on these issues, but they need funds to continue to do that work. Since 2000, Help-A-Family has raised $14 million, providing more than 400 grants to many of these local organizations. About 30 charities will benefit this year, each one taking on a significant problem and offering significant solutions.

A vivid example is Wyandanch Homes and Property Development Corp. At a time when there's lots of talk of Wyandanch "rising," of big plans for a flourishing community in the long-term, Wyandanch Homes is focused on the now. The group works with homeless families, placing them in stable homes and providing support services. Wyandanch Homes does everything, from building and renovating the homes to teaching families to be self-sufficient, with job training, financial literacy instruction and more.

And then there's Long Island Cares. Its Pack It Up for Kids program provides after-school and weekend meals for children in need. Last year's Newsday Charities grant provided after-school food for about 450 children each month at 11 locations across the Island.

Those are just two examples. Imagine what 30 organizations can do.

Long Islanders in need are your neighbors and your friends. They're parents and children on the playground, or seniors taking a stroll. They're in communities across Nassau and Suffolk counties. Don't turn away. Now's the time to accomplish something bigger. No contribution is too small. To learn more, or to donate, please go to newsday.com/helpafamily, or call 631-843-3056.