When we extend a hand to lift another up we, in turn, are raised to a new awareness. That awareness is that in a world that is dominated by me, me, me, what really matters is us, us, us. I mean all of us. We all matter. We are all deserving of a chance to be our best, to achieve our dreams, to pursue our own happiness. That's what Helping Hands for the Holidays is all about.

Here is how it works. We are looking for families or individuals who are doing their best to make the best with what they have.  However in their journey to move forward in their lives they've hit a stumbling block.

Maybe it's an unexpected medical bill. Maybe it's a home repair that they can't afford to have fixed. Maybe it's an automotive issue. Maybe it's a serious family situation.   Regardless of the stumbling block if they could just get past it, then they would have the opportunity to move forward in life.

If you know of a hard-working man or woman who is doing their best to make the best with what they have but could use a helping hand, I want to know about them. If you could tell me a little bit about their story, their struggle, and what you believe could make a difference in their lives then please contact me.

That's my email. Please include the words "Helping Hands" in the subject line. I will also need your contact information. We want to talk to you about your nomination and get as much background as we can on the person you're nominating. So please include a phone number along with your e-mail information.

What makes this program unique is there is no self-nomination. All nominees have to come from a third party. We do this for a couple of reasons. We have found that most of the individuals and families we help are not comfortable in asking for a helping hand. They are proud hard working people and while they might not have all they need they are willing to work hard to do their best with what they have.

We have also found that when friends and third party individuals tell their story we get a clearer picture of how we can really make a difference. While it might look like they need toys for Christmas, what they really need is a car repair so they can keep a job. Or maybe they need a hole in the roof repaired so the heating bill won't be so high. Maybe it's something as simple as a warm coat or work boots.  Our mission is to not just offer a band-aid we want to fix the problem.

One more thing that is so very important to all of us at Helping Hands for the Holidays. We believe in dignity. Therefore we will never announce or say the names of the recipients who receive our grants. If the grant recipient chooses to reach out and share their story that's fine but this program is not about "look at us we're helping people". This program is about lending a helping hand just because it's the real reason we are on the planet.

Helping Hands for the Holidays would not be possible without the tireless efforts of Scott Brazda and the Stuller Family Foundation. You know Scott from his Spirit of Acadiana Reports at KATC.

We also are indebted to the Community Foundation of Acadiana. They provide processing of our grants and help keep all the financials in order. If you'd like to donate money to Helping Hands you can do so through Community Foundation of Acadiana, just make a note that the donation is for Helping Hands.

So, now the ball is in your court. This is our community. These are our neighbors. Will you be the Helping Hand this holiday season?