Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Spirit of Giving

At this time of year, it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of Christmas. There are presents to buy and wrap, food to be made and travel plans to adhere to.

But for some, the holidays don't have this same look or feel. That's why the news in the days surrounding Christmas is full of heart-warming stories of generosity and giving.

Missouri Department of Transportation employees are among those who have opened their hearts and wallets to those less fortunate. For the third year in a row, MoDOT contributed the greatest amount to the annual Missouri State Employees Charitable Campaign. MoDOT employees donated $217,614, making MoDOT the first state agency to surpass the $200,000 mark in the 25-year history of the campaign.

And they weren't alone. Overall, Missouri state employees broke last year's record contributions by raising more than $1.25 million for local, state and national non-profit organizations.

And more than 1,100 charities and the people they serve are better off this holiday season as a result.

The True Heart of Christmas

What do you look forward to this holiday season? My kids and I made a list: baking cookies, looking at Christmas lights, watching favorite holiday movies, visiting Santa, decorating a Gingerbread house, sledding (if possible), singing Christmas carols and reading ‘The Best Christmas Pageant Ever’ just to name a few. It’s the time with family and friends that make this time of year so special.

But what would you do if it was all taken away by a drunk driver? All it would take would be for one person to drink and drive and you or someone you love to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The holidays this year will mark the one-year anniversary of a tragic highway fatality for 19 Missouri families. In 2008, from Christmas Eve through New Year’s weekend, 19 people were killed and 41 injured in traffic crashes on Missouri roads involving an impaired driver.

Help ensure your family and friends don’t suffer the same fate, and give the gift of a safe lift. Send a Designated Driver Gift Card and serve as the sober driver to ensure your family and friends make it home safe and avoid a DWI arrest. The gift cards, distributed by the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, can be sent electronically at

And besides promising to never drive impaired, make a new year's resolution to always wear your seat belt. Over 70% of people killed in Missouri traffic crashes are unbuckled. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, regular seat belt use is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes.

So remember that the true heart of Christmas is thinking of others first. Don’t drink and drive and please wear your seat belt. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year’s, and safe travels to all.