With the holiday season fast approaching, the Virgin Islands public has a few suggestions for our elected officials who are planning government festivities. And, without trying to sound like Ebenezer Scrooge, we hope the ghosts of Christmas past will not appear in the present.

Everyone likes a little holiday cheer. There’s nothing wrong with a little celebrating as long as you don’t empty the public purse to do it. By that, we reference lavish government parties held at the taxpayers’ expense in past years. For a community that has soldiered on through a pandemic that took 85 lives, stole jobs and income and in general never has funds for everything we want to do, we request that official parties on the taxpayers’ dime be limited to the expense of punch and cookies. Anything more, do a pot luck.

The optics of seeing official restaurant meals or catered affairs will not shine well in the community. It will be a bitter pill to swallow for nonprofits struggling to fill their food pantries, and for service organizations and religious institutions trying to find a toy for a deserving child. It would be insulting to those struggling against eviction and to everyone in the community hoping for more progress in our fiscal responsibility. In addition, seeing our homeless population who live desperately on a daily basis, there is no room for error when spending on holiday cheer.

Setting new standards shows integrity and thoughtfulness. It is a legal and moral responsibility to guard the public purse against past wrongs.

— Maria Ferreras is a longtime St. Thomas resident and community volunteer. She can be reached at maria@dailynews.vi.