Making a difference



By Louise Sukle

Donating to our favorite charities this time of year used to be relatively easy and painless. We wrote some checks, gave away some toys and were done.

Then came Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria. And then there were the mudslides, earthquakes and wildfires. In the span of a couple of months, a large part of the world was clobbered by natural disasters.

These are the times when Americans come together to help our neighbors in the next town or a couple of time zones away. We are generous people, and it shows every time a devastating emergency takes place. Tens of thousands of Americans open checkbooks or roll up their sleeves and get to work helping wherever and however they can.

With such widespread need, it can be hard to know how to help. Who needs it? What do they need? Which groups can you trust? This issue is loaded with information to guide you.

Experts recommend donating money, rather than goods to aid victims of natural disasters. Goods given during emergencies often go to waste, so donating money to organizations at the scene is a better way to ensure people get what they need. (see “Guidelines for giving” on page 4)

Where your donated goods and services are most appreciated is on the local level. If you’re looking to spread your charity this season, look beyond the areas affected by the storm and look in your own backyard for the places that have a need for clothing, furniture, toys and household items.

Local community needs rarely garner national media attention. Does this make one need more important than another? Of course not. It simply means that the focus on tragic global events can cause the needs of our local communities to slip under the radar when it comes to charitable giving.

As with most charitable endeavors, the satisfaction we derive is often linked to how hands-on we are with the organization. Getting involved is part of that experience. Not everyone is able to drop what they’re doing to provide aid on the scene of natural disasters but our hands and hearts can be put to good use with a day of building a home for someone in need or simply offering a ride to an elderly neighbor. (see our new Caregiver’s Guide inserted in this issue)

I hope this issue inspires you to find ways to care for the local and global community. If you’re looking for opportunities to be more involved closer to home, we’ve listed a broad spectrum of area non-profits on page 15. 

Everyone has a chance to make a difference. Will this be your time?