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Can’t think of perfect gift? Give to charity instead

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Updated: February 17, 2014 4:06PM



Here we are, less than a week away from Christmas.

Usually by now, we are at the tail-end of our shopping lists, leaving the hardest until the last. What do you get for 88-year-old Uncle Benny? Does my pastor really need yet another religious artifact?

And, how about my neighbor who always snow-blows my sidewalks? He swears he does it because he likes to run his snow blower, but shouldn’t I get him something?

I always have a person or two like that on my yearly list. I would run myself ragged trying to find that perfect, yet meaningful gift that would be seem more appropriate than trite.

Then, one year, out of desperation and sheer exhaustion, I asked one such person what he would like. What present would make him most happy? His answer was so simple that I now resort to it time and time again when I get stuck. He suggested that I give a donation in his name to a worthy charity.

Time is running out but there’s always time to honor a family member, friend or boss with a contribution, and, I might add, the need is as great as it is varied. Here are some suggestions from your neighbors.

Mary Clancy, Munster: Do your homework. When a friend was diagnosed with cancer, I wanted to make a donation at Christmas in her name. There are so many shady organizations that try to represent themselves as the American Cancer Society but are just scams. It’s nice to be generous but check out the organization first. It’s a lot easier if you can find something local, with a local address. If it’s a medical-related donation, hospitals are always a good bet.

Martin McAllister, Miller: I like to donate to local food pantries, but I try to do it year-round. People are generous during the holiday season but then all that goodwill tends to dry up. I mark “donate” on my calendar every couple of months and then treat it like an appointment.

Ruth Nicholls, Schererville: The Salvation Army is a great organization. Most of their funds go into good works and helping the poor. Plus it’s easy. I keep several dollar bills in my coat pocket and drop one in whenever I see a bucket and bell ringer.

Kelly Johnson, Crown Point: Don’t overlook your local churches. Even if you’re not a member or even a church-goer, most will have outreach ministries that help those in need, regardless of religion. Churches quietly go about doing good works and all would appreciate your donations, big or small.

And where do I like to go when I’m stuck? Usually I try to pick a charity that the person I am honoring would appreciate.

However, one I always turn to each year is our local animal shelter. In my circle of friends, none of our furry friends need a thing, including Isabella the Terrible. In her honor, and remembering all her canine friends, I collect food, blankets, toys, and treats for the shelter.

The animals waiting there for their forever home always appreciate it.



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