Christmas and giving always goes hand-in-hand. Some of us give at church. Some of us give to charities. Some of us give to the homeless. And if you have children and grandchildren, the giving is ongoing. So I know my asking that you do a little more giving at this time of the year may be asking a lot. But I am going to ask.

As many of you know, I am the president of the Lafollette Park Advisory Council. There is no grandeur in being involved in park district councils. We don’t have the power of the LSC. Our voices are the ones heard at each and every budget hearing meeting. We are the ones who stomp, scream and holler whenever the park district wants to do things that are not in the interest of our parks (like when they wanted to remove the indoor pool at Lafollette and replace it with a boxing rink).

We advisory council members are the eyes and ears for the community as we strive to make sure the park district does the right things for our parks. So whenever I hear of anything that is needed at my park, I am willing to work with the staff to help them get what they need. We advisory council members are the “squeaky wheels that get the oil.”

I recently learned that the basketball coach at Lafollette wants to get jerseys for the boys who are playing in his league. “How much do jerseys cost and how many do you need?” I asked Coach James. He ran some figures over in his head and said $15 for each numbered jersey and enough jerseys for 50 players. Well that is more money than what I can give. So I have given him money to buy two jerseys. And I need 48 others here in Austin (or over the Internet) to buy the rest.

But this is not a situation where you just “send the money and forget about it.” I want 48 people to not only buy the jersey, but to be the adopted cheerleader for that player. I want to have each donor of the jersey take a picture with their “adopted” player. If over the Internet, we’ll take a picture of the player in that jersey and e-mail it to you. We also want to form a rooting section for those players.

There are very important reasons why I am asking this of you. First, whenever the children are at the park, they are playing where we have asked them to play. Those are the children who don’t make the front sidewalk and the streets/alleys their playground. So as a community, we need to support them when they do take advantage of the park. Secondly, your participation in this will let 50 young people know that the community cares. It is very easy for our children to make the assumption that the community doesn’t care about them when many of them may live on blocks where next door neighbors sometimes don’t know each other. Lastly, it will give that player a fan.

You can contact Coach James at Lafollette Park. The phone number is 773/287-0541. The address is 1333 N. Laramie. But before the rest of the parks write, e-mail or call and ask why I didn’t mention them, here’s their numbers as well.

? Columbus Park, 500 S. Central, 773/287-5641

? Augusta Playground, 4433 W. Augusta, 312/742-7544

? Austin Town Hall, 5610 W. Lake St., 773/287-7658

? Moore Park, 5085 W. Adams, 773/287-0561

? Amundsen Park, 6200 W. Bloomingdale, 312/746-5003