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updated: 3/7/2014 3:23 PM

Stories highlight more than a single agency's need

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Few things are more gratifying to us than a lead like this one that appeared in our Wednesday editions: "After an outpouring of community support, the (Deicke home for adults with disabilities) is expected to remain open at least until the end of July."

The outpouring of support followed a Feb. 26 report by Jessica Cilella describing the plight of 16 high-functioning disabled individuals faced with the imminent closing of their home at the Edwin F. Deicke Home in Lombard because of a lack of funding. Suburban donors responded promptly by participating in fundraisers sponsored by local businesses or holding their own fundraisers. Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth's staff promised to help with federal grant applications that could provide additional resources. The home is not out of the woods yet, but it has bought some time in which to keep trying to find a more reliable and consistent source of support.

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That's good news, of course. Great news. Trouble is, Deicke is not the only troubled charity in the suburbs, probably not even the only troubled home of its type. Realistically, the Daily Herald couldn't solicit ideas for or investigate the details of every potentially worthy cause, and even if we could publish some sort of running tally of families, businesses and agencies in need of the community's support, such a feature itself would likely fade into the wallpaper of everyday routine, limiting the potential for agencies in crisis to get the public's attention and help.

So, we are left to periodically chronicle heart-rending stories like that of the Deicke home and trust that those, at least, will benefit from the public's generosity and concern, which almost always happens. But there is another beneficial way for you to respond to stories like this. That is to recognize that these stories are not isolated cases; they are representative of many other similar needs that exist in our communities every day.

You cannot help them all, just as we cannot report on them all. You certainly can come to the aid of those individuals, groups and agencies that we are able to write about. But in addition to -- or depending on the circumstances, in place of -- answering a publicized need, you can use these stories as important reminders when the plate is passed around at your house of worship, when specific drives are launched in your community or just when a fundraiser asks for your spare change at the local grocer or drugstore.

It's wonderful when, as with the Deicke home, one of our stories produces so immediate and so direct a result as to extend hope for a financial rescue of a worthy agency. It also is wonderful to consider that reports like the Deicke home story may result in a broader outpouring of support for charitable needs throughout the suburbs.

• Changing topics to elections: As the spring primary approaches, our mailbox is rapidly filling with letters from people supporting candidates and ballot issues. Some important rules to remember: Although we strive to publish as many such letters as possible, we do not accept them from candidates or their immediate families or campaigns, and we summarily reject "robo-letters" produced by campaigns to look like they were sent from random voters. Our last day for publishing election-related letters will be Friday, March 14. And, of course, don't forget our 300-word maximum and realize that with the crush of letters that appear as Election Day approaches many letters are likely to be edited or trimmed to ensure that as many people as possible get to have their say.

Jim Slusher, jslusher@dailyherald.com, is an assistant managing editor at the Daily Herald. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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