So as you trim the tree, wrap presents and plan holiday menus, take a few moments to reach out to a friend, a neighbor or a non-profit. But reach out.

During the holidays, it's always nice to be reminded that despite all of the bad news surrounding us, there also are people doing good things all the time.

It's early in the season, but we've already gotten plenty of reminders.

In the last week alone, Daily News readers learned about a Choctaw Beach man trying to transform his property into a free weekend getaway for veterans, and the employees of a Crestview car dealership raising more than $15,000 for a toys for kids program at the local police department. 

The Choctaw Beach man told the Daily News that he didn't tithe at church, but wanted to make sure he gave back. He'll need help getting his project off the ground, but it was refreshing to read about a man who dreamed big and wasn't planning to let obstacles stop him from helping others.

The sizable car dealership donation was a team effort between employees giving some of their hard-earned money and their employer matching it.

Those are just two examples, but if we look around, we will see generosity everywhere.

The leadership class at Fort Walton Beach High School is working hard to make sure local families have food and gifts at Christmas. As we despair about the paths some teens are on, it's important to remember that many young people are well on their way to being productive and successful members of society.

Bellringers are collecting cash outside of local stores for the Salvation Army and donations have started to flow in for the annual Empty Stocking Drive to help local needy families.

And, as you read this, an on-air personality for a local radio station is spending the weekend in a scissor lift with a goal of getting 1,000 bicycles donated during its annual fundraising drive. Last year, the station collected more than 800 bikes during the four-day drive.

Although the holiday season is touted as a time for joy, it can also be a stressful times for individuals and families who are struggling financially. It's hard enough to pay for housing, food and medical expenses,without adding in the seasonal pressure of gifts.

Year after year, Emerald Coast residents step up, dig deep into the pockets and reach out to those in need. It's one of the most rewarding aspects of living in Northwest Florida, knowing that we are part of a community that takes care of its own.

There are plenty of ways to help and although most of us step up our giving during the holiday season, the need is there year around. Food pantries always need food, shelters always need blankets, warm clothing and toiletries, non-profits always need cash to meey a myriad of needs. There is always someone who needs your help.

So as you trim the tree, wrap presents and plan holiday menus, take a few moments to reach out to a friend, a neighbor or a non-profit. But reach out.