'Tis the season to help others Don't forget charities when giving If our early December snowfall didn't get central Indiana's bells jingling, the overflowing mall parking lots should make it clear: Santa Claus is coming to town, and he's bringing plenty of credit-card-toting elves with him. The National Retail Federation predicts Americans will spend almost $475 billion on holiday-related purchases this year, up 4 percent from 2006. That's a lot of fruitcake. Our economy could use the boost, no doubt about it. But in our rush to find that perfect gift-or for 57 percent of consumers, that perfect gift card-something important is getting lost in the flurry of receipts and wrapping paper.
Peace on earth. Good will to men. We'd all be well-served to remember what Charlie Brown's pal Linus put so simply more than four decades ago.
This isn't just a time of year to shower friends and family with presents as we sip spiked eggnog by a roaring fire. It's also a time to be thankful for all that we have and to do what we can for those who don't have as much.
That $475 billion we're spending to cross things off our lists in the next few weeks? It's 60-percent more than Americans gave to charititable organizations in all of 2006, according to the annual "Giving USA" report researched and written at Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy.
And just 17 percent of the $295 billion given to charity last year went to human-service and publicbenefit organizations, those that presumably need it the most. Almost half went to religious and educational causes.
Most not-for-profits work year-round to line up financial support so they can continue fulfilling their missions. This is crunch time for them.
United Way of Central Indiana, for example, is still $6 million short of the $39 million goal nearly four months into its annual fund-raising campaign. It uses proceeds to help 100 health-and-human-service agencies address the community's greatest needs.
And it's far from the only game in town. Central Indiana is home to more than 2,500 not-for-profits-and those are just the ones large enough to be required to file informational tax returns with the IRS. Countless others operate below the radar but are still worthy of our support.
So while we're handing over a week's pay for Barbies and Transformers, let's not forget about the Hoosiers who don't know where their next meal is coming from or where they're sleeping tonight.
Those in need-and the organizations that serve them-could use our help.
'Tis the season, after all.
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