When you buy your gifts for Toys for Tots or another charity’s toy donation program, consider what that child wants for Christmas. When a child will get only one or two gifts, do you think he or she wants a plastic hard hat or a nice big truck, a puzzle or a 3-D building set, a box of crayons or a Minions 96-piece art set? Would that little girl like a $7.99 Barbie doll (of which she already has three) or a $16.99 Liv doll or one from a popular movie or cartoon? Please donate toys that will really light up a child’s or a teen’s face.

It helps more if you will choose one nice toy, electronic device or other teen gift. Having been involved in a toy distribution for over 15 years, I can tell you that most parents don’t choose Play-Doh, and many avoid toys with lots of little parts. Especially needed are gifts for teens and children under age 2. Gift cards are good for teens, as well as remote control cars and/or devices; hair curlers and straighteners; sports, outdoor activity equipment and active games; perfume and aftershave; electric razors; makeup, and art kits. In addition, cash donations allow the purchase of the most-needed toys.

On behalf of the Southern Anoka Community Assistance (SACA) program, we thank you for sharing the joy of the season by giving however you give. We and other local programs are accepting toys and gift cards right now for infants, children and teens.

Susan Wiseman, Columbia Heights

The writer is a board member of Southern Anoka Community. Assistance


A few important questions still need to be asked, and answered

The commentary about Black Lives Matter mentioned that the lack of truthfulness discredited the movement’s honest concerns (“Don’t risk credibility on ‘hands up’-style claims,” Dec. 1). It also discredits many others: Feminists, where is your outrage about the woman who was attacked and hurt? Journalists, why are you not telling this part of the story? Followers of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., why are you not considering the content of character as well as the color of skin? Public schools, why are you not teaching logic and the difference between truth and propaganda? Americans, why are we divided about our problem of young men (of all colors) running wild?

Look, I don’t have answers, but I know we are not asking the right questions.

Renata Melby, Bloomington



It’s just too simplistic to credit one side while blaming the other

A Dec. 1 letter writer resorts to lazy partisan thinking in selectively blaming Republican leadership for economic problems that have occurred at the state and national levels since 2000 (“Questions about Democrats,” Readers Write). One can argue that tax cuts and the resulting increased deficits are undesirable, but to designate them as the sole cause for economic problems, whether in the early 2000s in Minnesota or late 2000s nationally, is to ignore the complex reality of macroeconomics and ascribe to politicians power to influence the economy they simply do not have, akin to those who give sports head coaches all the credit or blame for their team winning or losing when it’s the players (businesses, consumers, and the wide variety of other economic actors, institutions and forces) that are far more influential in producing results.

The economic problems “inherited” by President Obama, in particular the housing crisis and subsequent recession, were brought on by a multitude of causes attributable to a variety of actors and policies, including monetary policy, federal housing policy, GSEs (Fannie, Freddie, et al.), brokers, rating agencies, Wall Street, banks, hedge funds and borrowers themselves. To simply blame the policies of George W. Bush for the Great Recession and give credit for the subsequent “recovery” to Obama is to irresponsibly trot out partisan platitudes as fact. But then again, it’s preferable for many people to live in such a simple (and carelessly ignorant) world than to spend time uncovering real, useful answers in the complicated and interconnected web of economics and policy.

John Grimes, Hopkins

• • •

In response to the dismal scores of the GOP candidates on the subject of climate change, a reader suggested a similar style evaluation for economics (“If you flunk GOP on climate, flunk Democrats on …,” Readers Write, Nov. 30). He might be onto something. How about testing all candidates in the following areas: American and world history: economics; political science; constitutional law, and, last but not least, Western and non-Western philosophy and cultural history. Several presidential candidates have spoken about philosophy in a negative light. This seems absurd when our very own political system that we cherish has its roots in ancient Greek thought.

And before dismissing the importance of understanding and appreciating great art, music, film, literature, theater and dance — from our own country, as well as the rest of the world — consider that the likes of Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini and Joseph McCarthy wasted no time in going after the leading artistic figures of their day and forcibly attempting to control their product. Why? Because they recognized the inexplicable power of great art and its ability to: tell the truth; to unite or enrage; to evoke compassion or sympathy, and to remind us what it means to be human.

I would like to have a president who understands that the “soul” of a nation is not found in the GDP but in the fertile imaginations of its most creative and brilliant minds.

Elizabeth Erickson, Minneapolis



Yes, for millions of us, drugs are a ‘godsend’ — and manageable

In response to Charles Cleland’s brave letter (“Properly used, drugs are a godsend,” Readers Write, Nov. 28) regarding the use of prescription narcotics for pain, please add me to the list of millions he referenced who lead better lives, thanks to trusting doctors who allow us to manage our pain through medication use.

Yes there is a drug problem in the U.S. There are also many stopgaps in place to help avoid the misuse of prescription drugs:

Walgreens keeps a computer record of prescription use at all of its pharmacies in the country. I assume insurance companies do the same. Doctors, hospitals and their employees are trained to recognize people seeking narcotics and should deal appropriately with those people. Accidental overdoses? I can’t imagine how you legislate that.

Sufferers like Cleland and myself with chronic pain from several physical ailments only want to live a normal life.

If we are addicted to something it’s life.

We are addicted to playing with our grandchildren, driving our cars, being able to clean our homes, go up and down stairways, cook our own meals, and take vacations without constant, depressing pain that can keep us bedridden without this pain relief. I am nearly 70 and was able to work (I chose to retire just recently) in a very demanding profession for years beyond what I thought I would, thanks to my doctor’s trust.

I would ask that legislators keep their noses out of my medicine cabinet and my doctor’s office.

Kathleen Shun, Mounds View



His death leaves a big hole

Without Hy Berman, Minnesota is a little less Minnesotan.

David Aquilina, Minneapolis