THE VALLEY DISPATCH, It’s that wonderful time of year — holiday season. It’s a time when families gather together in front of warm fireplaces, enjoy delicious meals and laugh over shared memories. It’s a time to which many people, especially children, look forward to all year.

But for some people the holiday season isn’t such a pretty picture. In fact, it can be downright bleak. The economy hasn’t been kind to everyone and many residents are struggling to make ends meet. There’s no money left over for a turkey with all the trimmings, for holiday gifts and surprises for the children.

Fortunately, residents throughout the area are banding together to lend a hand to their fellow citizens suffering through financial hardship. Their hope is that no one will spend this holiday season without a warm meal and some good cheer. With a little help from friends and neighbors, those hopes will be realized.

Nick Manolis, who’s owned Dracut House of Pizza for nearly 30 years, is once again spearheading a drive that will result in 450 food baskets being delivered before Thanksgiving. More than 100 volunteers assist in the work and many more contribute.

The Boy, Girl and Cub Scout troops in Pelham braved the cold last weekend as they held their 43-hour vigil at St. Patrick School, collecting donations for the Pelham Food Pantry. They gathered more than 50 shopping carts full of food, health items and paper products.

Many other organizations are collecting donations as well, such as the Lawrence/Methuen Community Coalition, Dracut Veterans Services, the Neighbors in Need Food Pantry in Methuen and Lazarus House in Lawrence.

If everyone works together, it’s possible that this can be a joyous holiday season for all.