Christmas trees abound as a sign of another holiday season.

Credit Germany with starting the centuries-long tradition, as it’s believed Germans brought decorated trees into their homes starting in the 16th century.

The practice eventually would spread to cities in the United States with German connections before Christmas trees became a holiday fixture in homes nationwide.

Yet now, when the holiday season draws near, shoppers often grumble at the proliferation of decorated trees, holiday tunes and other reminders of the season that bombard them as early as Halloween in retail stores.

So, it’s encouraging to see many trees in place locally that go beyond festive holiday décor to serving as a way to help others in the community.

One such venture arrived in late November with Russell Child Development Center’s Annual Fantasy Tree Festival. The organization’s primary fundraiser benefits the tiny-K early intervention program, which provides services throughout southwest Kansas to eligible infants and toddlers who have developmental delays and disabilities.

Decorated trees were among scores of items auctioned off in November to help the important RCDC cause.

Over at St. Catherine Hospital, the Annual Tree and Wreath Auction is set for Friday in the hospital cafeteria.

Proceeds from the fundraiser go toward the worthwhile venues offering support in Benincasa and the Emmaus House. Auction bidding closes at 3 p.m. Friday.

Also each holiday season, the Salvation Army organizes its own such effort.

The annual Angel Tree program goes a long way in making sure families in need have toys and clothes to wrap up and place under their own Christmas trees.

“Angels” eager to lend a helping hand collect gift ideas from Angel Trees around town. They have an opportunity to purchase reasonably priced gifts that wouldn’t burden most budgets, but help bring joy to many children’s holidays.

The local Salvation Army planned to start its delivery of donated gift items this week.

All involved in the various heartfelt and inspirational projects make Christmas brighter for needy families and other causes in our midst. Enjoy the giving spirit while it lasts this holiday season.