Difficult economic times only reinforce goodness of giving

Posted Dec. 26, 2008, at 6:55 p.m.

During the last few weeks, no fewer than three of my friends have told me they have chosen to have payroll deductions for charity taken from their 2009 income. These are not wealthy people. In fact, it might be that they care enough to do this because they know what it means to struggle to make ends meet. In one case, this is the first time the person will have charitable donations deducted from his pay. When I asked why he chose to do this now, he told me, “With the government making cutbacks and big business on the rocks, somebody has to step up to the plate.”

This “average joe” went on to say he chose to give to United Mid-Coast Charities, because the all-volunteer organization based in Camden ensures that 100 percent of the money goes to charity. My friend also likes the notion of being able to select the recipient organization or service group from among the many local charities the group serves.

Inspired by my friend, I took a look at UMCC’s recipient list and recognized the name of Kno-Wal-Lin Home Care and Hospice, a service that has been hugely helpful to my 80-year-old mother. After Mom endured a recent medical emergency and hospitalization, a nurse, two physical therapists and a social worker all swooped in to help Mom with her recovery.

Even if I had not discovered Kno-Wal-Lin on UMCC’s list, I noticed several other worthy service organizations I would very much love to support. After all, the choice includes Coastal Trans Inc., which provides transportation to the elderly, disabled and low-income individuals for medical appointments and other non-emergency needs; Camp Susan Curtis, which provides an outdoor camping experience to children of the poor; Freedom Riders, which provides therapeutic horseback riding to special-needs children and adults; Literacy Volunteers of Mid-coast Maine and Literacy Volunteers of Waldo County; Teen and Young Parent Program, which provides parenting education, mentors and more to young parents and their children; the Vinalhaven Fuel Fund; and additional service organizations ranging from youth programs to food pantries.

As my friend put it: “There’s something for everyone to support here.” And there are plenty of other charities out there eager to hear from you, too. If every one of us gave just a little, our combined efforts would provide big support.

If, by chance, even the smallest payroll deduction is just not possible for you in 2009, this does not mean you must give up on helping others. Instead of giving cash, resolve to give the free item you acquire in any “buy-one-get-one-free” deal you encounter in the new year. Give comestibles to food pantries; pet food to animal shelters; toys, clothing items, diapers, and personal care items to children’s centers or homes for battered women; and just about anything to Goodwill or the Salvation Army.

To contact United Mid-Coast Charities, go to umcc@midcoast.com, or call 236-2299. You also may mail your donation to UMCC, P.O. Box 205, Camden, ME 04843.

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