Wednesday, December 19, 2012

In need of giving

People live in herds. As proud as Westerners are of the “rugged individualism” that shaped the region, their family lore and community histories show that their forebears established themselves in this harsh region because they arrived together, stuck together and survived together.

This is important to remember in this year’s holiday flurry. Charitable giving is in short supply because of more than four years of a bad national economy.

Community-minded nonprofit organizations have seen donations go into free fall. Even organizations that feed and clothe the poor and hungry are reporting empty shelves. The decline in their budgets has mirrored the decline in the economy. But unlike businesses, nonprofits that serve the needy have found themselves with more, not fewer, customers to serve.

It should not take the lure of a tax deduction to motivate Americans to dig into their wallets even though this year a federal deduction for donations to nonprofits still exists. Lawmakers are debating whether the deduction will survive negotiations to avert the “fiscal cliff”—automatic tax increases and spending cuts—that may result in higher taxes on the wealthy.

Deductions aside, everyone benefits when neighbors are housed, fed, clothed, educated and treated for medical conditions. Healthy nonprofits enrich lives with care and services of many kinds.

Donors don’t have to be rich. Volunteer time is a hot commodity.

Earlier generations faced hard times, too, but people got through them by helping each other. We can, too.

So, honor the wisdom of history. Be kind. Choose a nonprofit or family that needs you. Then do the right thing: Give.

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