As we've noted before, York County is a very giving community.

Someone or some organization always steps forward in times of need, whatever the season.

But that spirit is never more evident than during the holidays.

It seems as Yorkers celebrate a joyous time and give thanks for what they have, it only makes them think more of those less fortunate.

Year in and year out, they never fail to pitch in to brighten the holidays for others.

That's true even in stubbornly tough economic times, when they, too, might be struggling.

Yes, things are improving, but the painfully slow pace means many people still are uncertain about their financial futures -- a concern exacerbated by a dysfunctional Congress.

The "fiscal cliff" has loomed for a long time -- ever since the so-called supercommittee created it instead of a responsible debt- and deficit-reduction plan.

It was a trigger, a financial threat designed to force a more reasonable alternative. Failure to avert the automatic tax increases and massive budget cuts set to kick in Jan. 1 would result in another recession, economists warned.

But Congress and the president didn't get serious about averting the man-made disaster until the holidays this year. And by serious, we mean "make any sort of effort."

So far, they have proved to be no more capable of compromise than they have been over the past two years.


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The result was consumer confidence fell in December to its lowest level since August, and consumers' outlook for the next six months dropped to its lowest level since 2011.

This was the unfortunate ornament on everyone's tree this year, and might be the reason Yorkers appear to have tempered their charitable natures ever so slightly.

Uncertainty will do that.

Oh, they still gave and gave generously, but some organizations reported a drop in donations even as requests for help increased.

The Toys for Tots Program of the Marine Corps League said donations were down 13 percent, while requests were up 13 percent. It ran out of toys the second weekend in December and had to turn away two local agencies that requested them.

Still, some 18,000 children in our area received presents Christmas morning thanks to the effort.

York's Helping Hand for the Homeless reported a 25 percent drop in donations this holiday season, a decrease executive director Cynthia Kemp attributed to the economy.

Although New Hope Ministries' cupboards were bare only a month ago, last-minute giving allowed the agency to accommodate the needs of a clientele that increased 40 percent.

Executive director Eric Saunders is grateful, but worries about the future.

"We're still worried about the state of the economy and how it will affect us next year," he said.

"But for ... Christmastime (we're) being thankful for how generous people have been and how much God has provided."