2021 is quickly drawing to a close. However, there’s still time an impact in the lives of others by making tax-deductible donations before the clock strikes midnight on December 31. Here are some ideas.
Operation Shoebox. Shoebox collection week has come and gone. However, you can still participate in Operation Shoebox by packing a shoebox online at https://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/buildonline/ You select the items you want to include in your box, and volunteers will pack the boxes, which will be delivered in the coming months. You can also donate $9 to deliver a box that another person has packed.
Samaritan’s Purse Gift Catalog, You can purchase gifts year-round to help those in need. Gifts options include providing food to hungry children, purchasing chickens or honeybees to help a family start a business, providing clean water for a community, rescuing children in crisis, and assisting refugees. Learn more at: https://www.samaritanspurse.org/our-ministry/gift-catalog/
Disaster Relief. Every year many communities are impacted by natural disasters. Many, many families lost loved ones, homes, and belongings in the tornadoes that ravaged five states recently. A super typhoon struck the Philippines days before Christmas. Please consider making a donation to an organization that provides disaster relief. These organizations include:
St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital– https://www.stjude.org/ Make a donation to help a critically ill child get needed treatment at no cost to their parents.
Your local food bank. Food banks serve their communities year round to ensure that everyone has access to healthy food.
There are many, many other charitable organizations that are fulfilling Christ’s command to care for those in need. Pray earnestly about which organizations God would have you support.
“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’”
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ ” Matthew 25:34-40
NOTE: Donations sent by mail and postmarked by December 31 are considered as 2021 donations, regardless of when they are received.
By now you have likely received your third economic impact, or stimulus, check from the government. The stated intent of these checks was two-fold: to assist those whose income has been negatively impacted by covid and to stimulate the economy and support small businesses.
If you are one of the estimated 18 million people currently receiving unemployment checks, then you probably need the money to meet basic needs for your family. And, of course, you should use the money to meet those needs.
However, if you, like me, have maintained your pre-covid level of income, the stimulus check represents extra money. How will you use this money? Many people are saving the money or paying down debt. In fact, estimates are that more about 71%% of the money distributed in the first round last spring was put into saving or debt reduction and another 18% was used for essentials. That left 11% to go back in the economy. Of that, 8% was spend on non-essential items and 3% was donated to charities. (Ben Wick, https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-stimulus-checks-savings-pay-debts-federal-reserve-cares-act-2020-10)
While it is wise to save and pay down debt, those actions do not help to stimulate the economy–and get people back to work–nor do they help our neighbors who are in need. I encourage you to consider using this third round of stimulus money in more altruistic ways.
In case you need them, here are some ideas:
Tithe. For most of us, this money represents an increase. God asks us to give back to His work 10 percent of our income.
Donations to Food Pantries. Many people in your community are relying on food pantries to meet their basic needs. Donations are up, yet there is still a significant need.
Purchase gift certificates from local restaurants and small shops. These businesses are still struggling and can benefit from the cash influx. My husband and I have bought gift cards that we have no intention of using. We consider the purchase of the gift cards to be donations to help ensure that our favorite restaurants and shops are still operating post-covid.
Donate to campaigns to help local shops and restaurants. Many small business are running fundraising events on social media platforms.
Shop with independent businesses. One of favorite expenditures has been ordering fresh seafood directly from fisheries. We’ve had salmon and king crab from Alaska, oysters from Pugent Bay, shrimp from New Orleans, and lobster from Maine. The seafood has been shipped directly to our house. It is fresh and delicious, and we are helping fishermen who revamped their business models when their restaurant sales declined.
Donations to funds to help pay for childcare and other services for lower-income workers. Many of these workers are struggling to pay for care for children who would normally be in school while they work.
Gifts of appreciation to front-line health care workers. Health care professionals in our area are working full-time schedules and then volunteering additional hours to vaccinate the public. There are many ways you can show your appreciation to them and support your local small businesses.
Of course, we are all praying that the vaccines work and coronavirus is soon a passing memory. In the meantime, pray and thoughtfully consider how you can help those in your community who are facing financial challenges from this pandemic.