Christmas is a time to help those in need

Published 3:50 pm Monday, December 17, 2007

By By Jo Bonner
As we celebrate this special time of the year – and look forward to the promises of the coming New Year – allow me to extend my very best wishes – and those of my family and staff – to all of you for a very happy, healthy, and safe holiday season.
2007 brought much good news – especially to southwest Alabama. Last May, ThyssenKrupp chose southwest Alabama as the site for its new $3.7 billion state-of-the-art steel manufacturing and processing facility.
It is one of the largest private industrial development projects in the United States, and it is expected to create upwards of 29,000 jobs during construction with an additional 38,000 to 52,000 indirect jobs over the next 20 years.
Alabama's economy remains strong with historic unemployment rates. Almost five years ago, in January 2003, Alabama's unemployment rate was 5.3%, and in October of this year, it was 3.0%.
While here at home the news is good, the national picture is not as positive. As I mentioned in this column last week, Congress still has a laundry list of work left to do, and 2007 is quickly drawing to a close.
We are two months into the new fiscal year, and still only one of the 12 regular fiscal 2008 spending bills has been signed into law.
With all of this unfinished work, it should come as no surprise that the American people's opinion of Congress is at an all-time low. In the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, 68% of the respondents disapproved of the job Congress is doing, while only 19% approved.
At the writing of the column, it still appeared that the majority plans to roll the remaining 11 regular fiscal 2008 spending bills into one package. It is still unclear exactly what the omnibus package will look like, but as I've said previously, I am hopeful it will provide the necessary funding for our troops without strings attached and will not exceed the president's spending request of $933 billion.
A time of giving to
those in need
I would like take this opportunity to commend those who work to provide for the less fortunate, especially during the holiday season. As many of us are busy buying presents for family and friends, attending holiday parties, and preparing to travel or host out-of-town guests, it's easy to forget that there are many people who cannot afford a holiday meal or presents for their children.
There are so many worthwhile organizations whose mission is to reach out to families and children who might otherwise be overlooked especially during the holiday season.
Whether it is providing a new, donated toy to a child, "adopting" a child and providing clothing and toys for children of needy families, or making a food donation to a local soup kitchen, there are countless ways to make sure that no one goes without this holiday season.
Our New Year's Resolution to you
As is the case every year, this is a time of year for making resolutions, from vowing to lose weight to promising to exercise more or finishing that project in the yard.
The resolution my staff and I make every year at this time is not new, but it is just as sincere today as it was during our first year in office:
Our offices in Mobile, Foley, and Washington, D.C., are here to serve each person – and their families – that live in Alabama's First Congressional District, and we want to provide you with the best, most prompt and most courteous service possible.
We strive every day to keep this promise to you. I hope you will never hesitate to call on us whenever you feel we can be of assistance.
May 2008 be a year filled with good health, happiness, peace and prosperity. Happy New Year.
My staff and I work for you. If we can ever be of service, do not hesitate to call my office toll free at 1-800-288-8721 or visit my website at
Jo Bonner is a U.S. congressman. His column appears weekly.

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