December 28, 2008

Wrapping up the Loose Ends

At long last, now that many of you may have forgotten about it entirely, I can report on the final results of the giveaway portion of my Holiday Donation Drive. There was a bit of a delay because I didn't hear back from one of the first people picked so, once the time allotted had passed, I had my mom dip into the hat of names again.

I'm delighted to announce that Mom24 at 4everMom and Renee at Bearable Deals each won a $20 Starbucks gift card, which are headed out to them tomorrow in the mail. Also going out in the mail tomorrow is Toni-Lynn's gift card as the top referrer. Congratulations to each of them and many thanks for participating!

All I've received as a receipt from Second Harvest Food Bank is an email, so I don't really have anything to provide as evidence of my donation. Because, frankly, if anyone is skeptical about it, my copying the text of the email here won't offer much in the way of proof. I believe Second Harvest will send me something by snail mail eventually, so if anyone is truly suspicious of my sincerity in reporting to you that I made the donation, you can say so and I'll post what I get. But I know that I made it, I know that AmEx already processed the charge and I know that anyone who knows me will not doubt this.

I want to remind you that there are still a few days for you to make a donation to your charity of choice in time for it to count in this tax year, if the tax deduction is important to you. (Personally, I don't itemize, so it doesn't matter.) As one person pointed out in the comments during the drive, many employers will match all or part of your charitable donations; this is an incredible way to make the most out of your donation dollars. My employers in the past have done this and I always took advantage of it. I currently don't have that benefit available to me, but if you do, I encourage you to look into it now if you never have before.

As the year draws to a close, I keep thinking, "What next?" More than one person has said to me during the course of this that they really identified with the dilemma I expressed in my initial post about the donation drive regarding knowing who to give to when there are so many worthy causes out there and so many opportunities for people looking to take advantage of the generosity of others and our innate desire to help.

I'd be curious to know what causes and groups and charities you think are worthwhile and how you support them. Is giving money the way to go, because agencies like Second Harvest can make so much good from so relatively little? Is volunteering better because you're giving your time? Does a combination of both suit you? How do you decide where to spend your time and money when it comes to helping others? So many questions, almost as many as there are needs out there. I hope you'll share your thoughts so we can have a discussion on where the giving goes from here.