I gave a coat to the Red Cross, another one to see Santa, and a third for News10. I gave shirts and socks to Twin Lakes, and bags of old clothe to the Salvation Army and the veterans. I also gave cans to the school, toys to the Marine Corps, the Cappuccino Cruzers, and Euro Sunday. I brought bags of goodies to the Lion's club, ran for food, dropped free stuff at the thrift shop, and fresh cookies in the held out hands. I donated one of my cars for the orphans, gave my blood, a kidney and my left eye. I gave it all....and it does not feel good anymore! I have been "burnt" by the overkill of corporate America's "Spirit of Christmas." I got indigestion from the food and "Toyz" runs, Christmas carols, Santas, and tree lightings that have been shoveled down my soul since last Thanksgiving. Too much Christmas has killed my Christmas spirit again! Furthermore, the image of a Folsom "needy" woman haunts me: she had a toddler in one arm and a cigarette in the other; "Leave it there with the others," she casually said about a bag of goodies while pointing to a dozen bags already lined up against a wall! Motivated by some kind of indifferent entitlement, she had obviously applied to every single program in town. Again, the holiday season had fallen upon us, loaded with guilt. We are bad human beings if we do not give because it is wrong for some to be cold and hungry at Christmas while we get fatter. Again, my family gave without counting to the one who asked, and took, without counting. Nevertheless, as a teacher put it while promoting a food run: "Give! It will make you feel good!" ...and it is all about us isn't it? I am just plain done because I have seen too many abuses too many times in too many places and because I am also confident that the challenged people with the will to change their fates will eventually do it without my donated toy or coat. For the rest, the lifetime needy, it is just a choice or an illness, and both should be treated! Therefore, I decided to stop reaching out by proxy. I also decided to stop feeling guilty for not giving a percentage of my salary to my church, or my left arm to a charity. I will focus and reach around me, help the people in need I know or can identify in my community, and God knows we have many in Folsom! Just ask your local firefighter, Code enforcement, or Police officers for the many Folsom social horror stories! Better yet, just attend the CAPS program to see it live (Folsom Citizen Academy), or walk around your neighborhood. Last year, a ride along in an ambulance opened my eyes. With blaring sirens, we entered Empire Ranch, soon to be joined by a backup unit from another station. Paramedics entered the house and eventually took a senior away while I waited outside, looking at cars slowing down, or neighbors peeking through the windows. Nobody asked anything, and throughout the whole incident, a man right next door kept on mowing his lawn. Poor woman! She thought suburbia was safer for seniors, closer to love and care! Finally, let us wonder a little about what is happening to the "needy" the rest of the year. Are we just a feel-good bunch of hypocrites hogging on the planet resources while donating to concerts against world famine or other Telethons? Do our "needy" survive all year on the Christmas loot or is it just more morally acceptable to let them starve, wander, and die under the sun? What is happening to our "generosity" the rest of the year, eleven months a year? Shouldn't we have summer food runs too? What is happening to the many local, State and Federal programs paid for by taxpayers? Are they total failures and shouldn't we fix them according to the "accountability thing" I preach all the time? We suffer from attention disorder and only react to what makes today's headlines. Yesterday's hunger has been solved because we donated a couple of cans. Our Christmas-time people in need are okay until next Christmas because we got rid of the clothing we outgrew. Isn't life simple? Eric can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.