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Sydney Graner, of Huff, right, places her donation into the Salvation Army's Red Kettle outside Scheels at Kirkwood Mall last week. Volunteer bell-ringer Jackie Erickstad, was sharing a bell-ringing shift with her husband, Mark Erickstad. "We have been doing this for three years," Erickstad said.

North Dakotans tend to be caring people, doing a lot of good deeds without recognition. When someone falls ill neighbors will mow the lawn, shovel the sidewalk or even help harvest a crop. When a death occurs in a family there’s often no shortage of food as friends drop off meals to take the burden off those grieving.

These actions aren’t considered out of the ordinary in the state. No special thanks are needed.

During the holiday season the selfless acts by people abound. Many are done quietly without attracting attention. That’s how it should be; kindness shouldn’t be contingent on being rewarded. At the same time there are some projects so big they need publicity and volunteers. There are more in the Bismarck-Mandan community than we can mention here. However, some annual efforts should be noted.

The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle drive has started and volunteer bell ringers can be found throughout the community. Usually they are inside entrances to businesses, but some still endure the elements and do their shifts outside. On the surface it’s a simple way to raise funds using a bell and a kettle. It does require a lot of organization and volunteer hours, so it’s far from simple.

One group that’s organized every year is the Loyd Spetz Post No. 1 of the American Legion. This is the 89th year the post has sponsored Open Your Heart in Bismarck and Burleigh County. Every year since 1930 they have collected food and financial donations so they can prepare and deliver food baskets to people in the area. On Dec. 21, volunteers will gather at the Bismarck Event Center to sort food and package the baskets. The next day volunteers will load and deliver the baskets.

Monetary donations or food can be delivered to the American Legion office in the AMVETS Building, 2402 Railroad Ave. You also can go to their website at or mail checks to Open Your Heart, P.O. Box 753, Bismarck, N.D., 58502-0753. For many it’s a tradition to help through Open Your Heart.

The Christmas Playpen program has collected used toys for children and they are being repaired by inmates at the North Dakota State Penitentiary, Missouri River Correctional Center and Dakota Women's Correctional and Rehabilitation Center. They will be distributed at the Salvation Army’s Joy Shop on Dec. 17-19. Folks can still send cash or check donations to The Christmas Playpen, c/o Cassidy Kraft, P.O. Box 5516, Bismarck, N.D. 58506. Make checks payable to the Bismarck Tribune.

Families must fill out an application at the Salvation Army office, 601 S. Washington St. in Bismarck, to participate. They must apply by the end of this month.

On Sunday the Tribune featured the annual Empty Stocking program where residents can donate items needed by the Abused Adult Resource Center, the Bismarck Early Childhood Education Program, Community Action, Charles Hall Youth Services, AID Inc. and the Ruth Meiers Hospitality House. The story was on Page C1 on Sunday and the donations should be delivered to the nonprofits, not the Tribune.

All these programs have been operating during the Christmas season for a number of years. They still exist because of caring people in the community. People are motivated to give by faith and a spirit of sharing that dominates the season. We also help others because that’s what we do throughout the year. At Christmas we celebrate that desire to share and help others.

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