The run-up to the holiday season has been simmering for a while, but this week it will come to a boil. Thanksgiving is this Thursday, followed by Black Friday, the official start of the annual Christmas shopping spree.

For many it is a season of excess. Too much food. Too much drink. Too much spending. Too much everything.

But for many others it is a continuation of daily deprivation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 14% of Lackawanna County residents live below the poverty level. Every day can be a challenge to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. Holiday expectations can add another level of stress to their struggle.

If you’re in need of help making ends meet, or if you want to help others in that situation, a good place to start is the website of United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania ( The site provides access to, and information about, the organization’s many programs devoted to helping those in need.

According to the site, UNC has been helping meet the needs of local low-income families, seniors and youths since 1923. The goal is to help people now and guide them eventually to self-sufficiency.

The homepage provides access to several programs, including Community Services, Child Care, Community Revitalization & Education, Older Adults, Community Health, Youth, Community Development and Camp Kelly. There are also several opportunities to donate on the page. You can designate which programs you want your donation to support. This time of year, you can direct your gift to Thanksgiving meals for people who might not otherwise have one.

If you want to help but can’t afford to donate money, the site has a volunteer section. You can register to give a gift of your time to help others in your community. There are several options you can select from, including Angel’s Attic, ESL/Citizenship Education, holding a fundraiser, Youth Programs, Child Care and Thanksgivng food distribution.

The site also has sections on pursuing a career with UNC and News & Events. The group organizes events throughout the year to raise money and awareness, including the Chocolate & Wine Frolic, Welcoming Scranton and the South Side Farmer’s Market.

Quality imagery, logical navigation, good typography and a nice color palette all make the UNC site a good browsing experience. And if you use the site to help your community, it can become a good life experience, too.