Opinion

Editorial | Dollars and decisions

The highs and lows of the recent election are nearly behind us. It is time to focus on the serious tasks at hand. Dark clouds swirl overhead. It is plain that we are in crisis mode when the first policy gathering held by President-elect Obama involved a group of nerdy economists and financial gurus. Who knew that these people would come in handy?

The holidays loom ahead. The coming six weeks are known to be the season of consumption, the time of year that we shop — and shop we usually do. It is the season that businesses hope will make their year. It is also the season of solicitation. The content of the mailbox abruptly shifted last week from political candidates looking for support and money to organizations looking for help — for the needy, for the hungry, for the unfunded mandates in our community. The majority of these requests are for true and immediate needs and represent worthwhile investments. Volunteer power and money is what makes things happen for kids, the forests and the forgotten. Whether it is helping with a service project with Rotary, supporting the Schools Foundation or the Boys & Girls Club, or contributing to a church auction, it all counts.

But what is best this time around?

For those this year who must make different choices about how to spend their money yet be true to community causes, it is a challenge. Organizations seeking money will compete with college tuition, tax bills and other necessities for our dollars. But perhaps just as important as buying green will be sustaining our local economy. In the new mindset of the decade, how can we help and save at the same time?

As we consider how to strike a balance between these competing interests, being deliberate about where we shop is one way to help. Buying locally to sustain our businesses is a good choice. Our own Mercer Island businesses have a lot to offer — whether it be gift certificates, books, clothing, pampering or chocolate, there is much to discover and much to savor.

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