Lend me your influence to do better. It feels like we are drowning as a nation and could use all the inspiration we can get.

I know it's past your time to make deliveries, but I'm hoping you will be able to use your networking power to sway my community.

I'm always a little daunted by being one of your many ambassadors during the holiday season. Sorting through the stacks of letters our little ones send out to you and getting them published in time.

But that's not the hard part. The hard part is reading that there are so many among those stacks that just want necessary things, like food, clothes and a little cheer.

I know you always do your best to deliver. At the same time, I also know you count on us to deliver too.

Christmas has passed, and while I sit with my children, full-bellied in our heated home, wearing their favorite clothes and still swimming in the after-glow of their gift bonanza, there are others, neighbors of ours, who are left wishing and hoping.

After all these years I still believe in your power to inspire and keep hope alive.

There have been moments where I have struggled with your purpose. Felt compelled to disown how attached you are to the provision of indulgences and distract from the divine powers that guide and watch over us all. Yet, here I am - throwing out a lifeline and hoping you, and those who love your tradition, will listen.

We must remain diligent in putting words into action. Support the hands of others that will do the same. If you could send word to those on your lists, it would mean so much. We could perhaps make every season a season of giving here in Ottawa County.

Jolly and kind, I know you must want what I want. For food pantries to be full, charities to be swelling with financial support, and all of us celebrating the work done in service to others.

We both must want every child to be secure in the fact that even if they do not have everything, they have something to thrive for.

I won't argue the finer points if the work gets done. I promise. Whatever way those in need can be helped is good enough for me.

I remember being small, cold, hungry and hopeful. My fingertips and stomach still ache at times with the remembered pain of when I did not have enough but would wish I and others could have just a little.

Santa, I know you are real. I have seen you manifest in tiny rooms, schools, and churches to let a child go home bolstered enough to keep on keeping on. That makes you as true as day and night, as far as I'm concerned.

My letter comes late because I think it is so important that the sacraments of giving and receiving not end with your holiday wish granting.

Lend me your influence to do better. It feels like we are drowning as a nation and could use all the inspiration we can get.

It takes all kinds, all faiths, all traditions and myths to heal these growing wounds and to collectively provide for our fellows.

I'm counting on you as one of many beloved icons to help good will and charity reign through the new year.

I am counting on you too, dear readers.

Dorothy Ballard is the managing news editor for the Miami News-Record. Contact her at dballard@miaminewsrecord.com and follow her on Twitter @dm_ballard.