Sunday, November 21, 2010

A helpful guide for holiday giving

If you feel yourself drawn to the gift of giving this year, don’t miss The Charlotte Observer’s annual Giving Guide, inside this Sunday’s editions (Nov. 28).

Every year, our staff invites charities across the region to bring their needs directly to you through this guide.

All indications are that those needs are greater than ever.

Last year, we received 231 submissions. This year, the number skyrocketed to 379 submissions – an increase of 64 percent.

We all know that people are hurting in ways we’ve not seen in our lifetimes. They are the hungry, the homeless. They are children and they are the elderly. They are people stricken with disease, people struggling with disabilities. They are the newly unemployed, the newly uninsured.

These agencies are working to rescue them. But they are suffering from their own setbacks. Most have weathered severe reductions in funding even as more and more people are crowding through their doors.

If you have the capacity to help, now is a great time to lend a hand. It could be a monetary donation. It could be time to volunteer. Or, it could be the donation of something going unused in your home. You’ll see that many agencies are looking for specific items.

The guide will list the mission and needs of each agency. And if you go online, you can search it by the category of people being helped, by county and even by Zip code.

The web search will also let you submit an item you’d like to donate and match it to an agency that needs it.

For example, I typed “CD player” into the 2009 guide and it promptly let me know that Holy Angels Nursery was in need of one.

Through this guide, there are so many ways you can help. So, please, use it to reach out to someone less fortunate this holiday season.