Whether or not you celebrate holidays in November and December, it’s a great time for all of us to look outside ourselves and reflect on how we can better Norman.

As always, December brings a host of avenues for donating to nonprofits that help in myriad ways in the community. And in addition to annual giving opportunities, the 2021 holiday season also presents a much greater opportunity than last year to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and protect the vulnerable against the virus.

Norman’s poverty rate is greater than 17%, according to the latest Census Bureau data; the city’s homeless population has come to the forefront of public discussion in municipal government.

Regardless of opinions about how to best aid poverty or homelessness, there’s an immediate need the real people affected by these social issues experience, in particular during the coldest months of the year.

With the help of the community, Norman’s nonprofits meet the need this time of year. The Salvation Army collects warm clothes and Christmas gifts for underprivileged children; Food & Shelter stocks up on warm clothes and sleeping bags for the homeless; the Center for Children and Families is looking to fulfill 250 wish lists for its gifting program.

These organizations offer an opportunity for residents to ensure those receiving the donations will not only survive the holidays but also enjoy them as much as they can.

Beyond assisting the disadvantaged in the community, Normanites also have an opportunity to help everyone — while helping themselves — by getting the COVID vaccine. It’s how we work to combat the virus that ravaged the community and the rest of the world during the 2020 holidays.

Roughly one in six people in Cleveland County have contracted COVID since the pandemic began. The virus has killed more than 600 people in the county, according to the New York Times.

The numbers aren’t spiking in the area right now, but the United States has seen a handful of cases of the delta-plus COVID variant. University of Oklahoma Chief COVID Officer Dr. Dale Bratzler said this variant has caused problems in Europe.

While there were no cases of the mutated virus in Oklahoma as of Wednesday, the best way to ensure it doesn’t gain a foothold in Norman or the rest of the state is to get vaccinated.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials have approved children ages 5-11 for their first doses, and are highly recommending booster shots for most adults. With the vaccine more widely available than ever — and in a season when airborne illness transmission is high — it’s as good a time as ever to ensure you and your loved ones don’t contract the virus.

The overarching theme in the holidays is often generosity and doing right by others. This year, Normanites have two tangible ways to act on these principles and make a positive difference in their communities.

We ask, if able, you consider doing them.

The Norman Transcript Editorial Board includes Publisher Mark Millsap, Editor Emma Keith and News Editor Max Bryan. For comments or questions, email editor@normantranscript.com.

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