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Bush asks Americans to help needy

WASHINGTON -- President Bush issued a Christmas Day call for compassion toward the sick and suffering, urging Americans to volunteer to help the neediest among their fellow citizens.

''The Christmas season fills our hearts with gratitude for the many blessings in our lives, and with those blessings comes a responsibility to reach out to others," Bush said in his weekly radio address.

''Many of our fellow Americans still suffer from the effects of illness or poverty; others fight cruel addictions, or cope with division in their families, or grieve the loss of a loved one," he said. ''Christmastime reminds each of us . . . we are called to love our neighbor just as we would like to be loved ourselves. By volunteering our time and talents where they are needed most, we help heal the sick, comfort those who suffer, and bring hope to those who despair -- one heart and one soul at a time."

Bush also assured US troops overseas that they are in the thoughts and prayers of their fellow Americans. The message has become a fixture of Bush's annual Christmas broadcasts but took on added poignancy this year, coming days after a devastating attack on a US military dining hall in Mosul, Iraq. Twenty-one people, including 18 Americans, were killed.

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