Put ‘giving’ at the top of your list this year

By Andrew J. Concatelli - ReminderNews Assistant Editor
Statewide - posted Thu., Dec. 8, 2011
- Contributed Photo

Around the holidays, everybody talks about giving, being generous, and showing goodwill to family, friends and strangers alike. This year, instead of just talking about this kind of genuine holiday spirit, put these familiar words into action by making time to donate to local charities that need your support.

A good place to start would be making a simple food or monetary donation to a food bank, soup kitchen or religious establishment that supports the hungry and the homeless. Many of these locations would also appreciate you volunteering your time, as well.

One of my favorite local charities is Foodshare, which serves as a major food bank in central Connecticut. It distributes 16 tons of food each day to a network of 300 local partners that feed hungry families and individuals living all around us. People who benefit from Foodshare and programs like it are our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends and family.

Not-for-profit organizations launch large fundraising and food collection campaigns around the holidays. Many people think to donate when it is cold outside, but you may also consider setting up a monthly donation schedule, to help out all year long. Food banks often see their shelves go bare in the summer.

If you would like to support a specific cause that is significant to you or your family, there are countless foundations and associations that support research to fight various diseases and medical conditions. Before you start writing checks or entering all of your personal information on a website, do some research about the organization you are considering supporting. Make sure it is not for profit, and learn exactly what your money will be used for. Also be aware that after you donate once, you will probably be on a mailing list for years to come, and will likely be asked for more money.

If you cannot spare any cash right now, take a look in your closets and around your house, and consider giving your gently-used clothing, toys and household items to an organization like the Salvation Army or Goodwill. Take your items to a donation box, or bring them to a drop-off center, where you will be given a receipt to keep track of your tax-deductible donations.

If your generous holiday spirit is so inclined, there are even many local non-profit groups that accept donations of used cars.

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