Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tis the Season

As we enter our season of frenzied eating, shopping, and partying, many of us look towards our charitable giving. According to Charity Navigator, 50% of all charitable giving by individuals and families is done between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve. Whether charged by a giving spirit in a time of thanksgiving or the need to complete charitable donations before year-end for tax purposes, people are opening their wallets and making a difference.

In case you feel so compelled--allow me to help guide you just a bit to a few of my favorite charities--

  • Heroes for Children--well, you had to know this would be on the top of my list. If you are a reader of this blog, you know my love of Heroes for Children. You know that I believe our mission is vital for cancer families. Serving these families in need is our number one priority. Something to think about:

    $100 will provide a struggling family with basic household necessities.
    $250 will pay for a family’s utilities at a point when it might be turned off.

    $500 can make a COBRA payment for a family that might lose their insurance.

    $750 (Our average gift) can make a car payment and insurance so that a family can get their child to treatment.

    $1000 will pay a rent or mortgage payment for a family facing eviction.

    2007 has been an amazing year for Heroes for Children--with successful expansion of our giving to three major hospitals in Texas. But we're not done yet. I've had numerous calls from social workers, nurses, parents, and family members in Austin calling for help. We're not in Austin yet. We hope to be soon. We are not throughout the state providing at the level we could be. With your donation, we will oneday provide for every family in Texas in need fighting childhood cancer. With your help, we will continue with our tradition to never deny a request for financial assistance.

  • Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, specifically Friends of Heroes--Originally created in my sweet Allie's memory, Friends of Heroes works in conjunction with LLS to raise funds for research to CURE blood cancers. Because of the cutting edge research funded by LLS, I was given more time with my daughter. Because of their mission to fund researchers on the cusp of discovery, I was given hope. Friends of Heroes remains the largest Friends and Family team nationwide, and the amazing thing is that it is comprised of strangers, connected by the internet and the same passion to help. And here's the big news for them--they're SO close to their 2007 fundraising goal. The goal is $100,000 in order to have a research grant named after Friends of Heroes. And they are LESS than $3,000 away!! Wow--congrats ladies!

  • Lance Armstrong Foundation--If you live in Texas, you know about Prop 15. You know that the Lance Armstrong Foundation in partnership with many other cancer nonprofits brought more than millions of dollars in cancer research. It's not just about a cool yellow wristband, people. It's about banding people together to put an end to cancer and to support those enduring the fight.

Of course, cancer is my fight. It is my passion and my cause. Some of you may be reading my list feeling less than excited to open your wallet and make your gift (and with gift, I am talking anything from $10 to $10,000--any donation is a GIFT). If funding a cancer nonprofit isn't what you had in mind, not to worry. There are plenty of nonprofits you can find in your area that would appreciate your gift.

At Heroes for Children, we believe than any donation is important. Hanging on our wall is a note from a ten year old boy who collected cash through a book sale. In pencil on a sheet of notebook paper, the boy wrote us about his $14 donation. Hanging next to this note is one from a large donor that sent his donation of $10,000. The juxtaposition of these two notes serves as a constant reminder--that all donations matter, no matter the increment. A significant gift is different for each person--what is significant to me and my finances is different than someone else's.

A few tips for giving:

  • Check out the charity. Don't be afraid to do a little research. If a charity is not listed (example--HFC is not because of the length of time we have been around), call them. Pick up the phone and ask the questions you want to know.
  • Find out the percentage of funds that go to the mission. If it is less than 60%, hang up and give elsewhere. Try to find charities that spend 70% or more on their mission. That means they are focused on what is most important and not wasting money on administrative, fundraising, or other costs.
  • Choose one or two charities instead of "spreading the wealth." This isn't the first time I've written about this.
  • Don't just donate your old stuff. If it is your junk, don't make it the junk of a charity's. If you do want to give it away, donate to a reputable charity that you know will use your donation of used items. For example, while I appreciate the offers of furniture or children's toys, I can't do much with them. They would be much better off if given to a charity equipped for this type of donation.
  • Involve your children!! Even if you are just making a financial contribution, have your children involved. Let them help you research a charity. Have them write a note to the charity or see if they can write a note that would go to a beneficiary. As a former educator, I feel strongly that parents need to take the time to instill the love of philanthropy in our children.
  • Don't let this be the only time you give or volunteer your time. Let your gift be throughout the year. Organizations thrive on donations and the countless hours of volunteers.
  • Find the right fit for you. Find a cause that gets you excited. Something that makes you feel like you've made a difference and that you want to associate yourself with.
  • Donate in honor of a loved one. Do we really need more gifts? In honor of co-workers, friends, and family, choose charitable giving this season. Our staff has decided not to give gifts this year. Instead, each of us will be making a contribution to Heroes for Children on the day of our staff meeting. If someone asks you want you want for Christmas--consider asking for a contribution to a charity. If you donate in honor of someone, you will recieve the benefit of your tax deduction and the knowledge that you helped a worthy cause. The person you donated in honor of will receive an acknowledgment of your gift, knowing you thought of them. Attending a party and wanting to give a hostess gift? Donating in their honor is a great alternative to bringing a bottle of wine or bringing flowers!

Most importantly,

  • Whatever you do--just give!

May you have a wonderful giving season this year!



Amy said...

Happy Thanksgiving from the Sunshine state. I love this time of year; actually I love life in general. It's people like you that have helped me realize my life's purpose and get busy! Helping family dealing with childhood cancer is truly my passion. I finally got off the bench and made a difference this past year. I started off 2007 with a 6 month weight-loss fundraiser. I lost 48 lbs. and raised $1056 for a family in need. My husband and I had a yard sale in September to benefit two local families dealing with childhood cancers and that brought in almost $600. I'm also working on a coin drive at one of my son's schools to fund the cure for Ewings Sarcoma through the Sunshine Project. (Pedratic Cancer Foundation) This is really close to my heart because one of the former students at my son's school battled Ewings Sarcoma and passed in 2005. Dylan Crane is his name and he was one amazing kid. He was an award winning film maker, and filmed his brutal treatment. I wish I could have met him. His sister is a 5th grader this year and her mom heard about the yard sale and called me. I was collecting coins at my yard sale and she wanted to include the school. We are calling it "Pennies From Heaven" and it wraps up 12/1. I've also attended some great local fundrauisers and even a hockey hgame on "Tampa Bay Fights Cancer Night". It was an amazing evening and so touching to see so many kids have fun. In March I went to a fashion show at Sax 5th Ave. with local girls as the models. Talk about an emotional night. I was able to meet some of the families I've been reading about for a while. If everyone could see the twikle in the eyes of these girls; they would do anything to make sure they return the following year. Sadly I attended a Celebration of Life service for one of the girls that I saw in the show. Taylor also lost her battle with Ewings Sarcoma and left behind a twin sister. Watching a 12 year old being buried by her parents was heartbreaking. Taylor left behind many lessons and touched so many. Just last month I went to the funeral of a 4 year old; Miss Hanah Deal. I met this little fircracker and she was something else. Before Hannah deid she wanted to help other kids that are in Hospice. So "The Ladybug Toy Drive" continues and had already collected over 2,500 toys!!
I'm sorry for going on and on but I just had too. I'm just so thankful for good people like you doing good things for others.
Have a wonderful day with your family.

EquineSpirit said...

Happy Thanksgiving!!

3fishies said...

Wow, Jenny, that was a great post! As usual, you are very eloquent in your writing.

So, when are you going to start publishing your writings?? Girl, there would be some good money in it for you!!!

A Blessed Thanksgiving to you and your beautiful family (who I am thankful for entering my life!)

Kelly said...

What a wonderful post! A friend of mine is doing a "charity exchange" with her family this year. I think its a wonderful tradition for each and every year!