The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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November 16, 2012

LEVINE: Shop local, donate during holiday season

CLINTON — By this time next week, many residents will already have crossed off many items on their Christmas list.

And for the sake of the local economy, I’m hoping many of those shoppers will choose area shops for their gifts.

According to the National Retail Federation, approximately 147 million people will shop on Black Friday this year, down a bit from last year’s 152 million. But for businesses, the official beginning of the holiday shopping season is a boon not only for their bottom line, but also for the area’s economy.

Last year, the average shopper spent $398.62 during the weekend, and total spending reached an estimated $52.4 billion in the United States, according to the NRF.

That’s why it’s so important to spend that money locally, instead of going to a different region or shopping primarily online. I understand not every store in Clinton will have what each person is looking for, but I encourage people to check out local stores before going online to find presents.

For those who don’t want to battle crowds, there’s still plenty of time before Christmas to shop, since this is the earliest Thanksgiving date since 2007. For me, I will likely wait until the last minute like normal, so I will have no other choice but to shop local.

Before you spend all your money at the local stores, though, make sure to save some for local charities. Times are tough for many in Clinton this holiday season, and before the beginning of Christmas shopping starts, the Victory Center will once again hold its Great Thanksgiving Banquet.

Donating food to that meal is a great way to give back to the community, and all the donations will be used for community members who may only get that one Thanksgiving meal this year.

Also, with Christmas right around the corner, Salvation Army bell ringers are hitting the streets starting this week, and food pantries are always in need of assistance, especially this time of year when so many depend on their generosity for a happy holiday season.

There’s also many other ways through the Holiday Network, Toys for Tots, churches and local businesses to get involved in not only helping others, but teaching children the importance of giving back, which is an important aspect of the holiday season.

Hopefully everyone’s holiday is a safe, enjoyable one, and give back to the community, through economic growth and volunteerism to help out the less fortunate.

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at scottlevine@clintonherald.com. He has been employed at the Herald since 2008.

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