The Missoulian’s Tandy Khameneh put it beautifully in her Thanksgiving Day “We Care” column: “Sometimes children are not able to be with their families, but you can help make them feel special during the holiday season.”

There are many ways to show kids who belong to needy western Montana families – or who find themselves apart from their families this winter – that they are part of a community that cares about them.

Yesterday’s “We Care” column, for one, provided a wish list for the current residents of Watson Children’s Shelter, an emergency shelter for children ranging in age from newborn to 14 years old who have experienced abuse, neglect, abandonment or other family crises. Give the shelter a call at 549-0058 to find out which wish list items have been filled and which are still needed.

In Ravalli County, some 250 children have pinned their holiday hopes upon the angel tree inside the Prudential Montana Real Estate office in downtown Hamilton. The organizers of this gift-giving effort are urging anyone interested in buying a present – or perhaps several presents – to bring them in by Dec. 10 so that they can be wrapped and delivered in time for Christmas.

“I know it’s a really hard time for everybody this year, but if we band together as a community, we can get this done,” organizer Carolyn Corter says.

As much as I dislike shopping, it’s always fun to buy presents for kids. You really don’t have to spend a lot of money to make a child feel special. A box of new crayons and a journal-style book of blank pages only costs about $2 – but the lift it gives the recipient is absolutely priceless.

– MM