DOING THE RIGHT THING: An Important Reminder

 Donating to Youth Before the End of the Year

 By Doug Abrams

 When I write for publication, I rarely recycle prior articles because fresh perspectives normally serve writers and readers best. The thought process that commits words to paper, said author John Updike, “educates the writer as it goes along.” The writer learns, and readers receive new ideas.

This column violates the “no recycling” rule because it reiterates a message about generosity that I have delivered here in Decembers past. Before the tax year winds down at the end of the month, the message invites readers to consider making modest tax-deductible donations to worthy causes that help improve the lives of children in need.

The Best Judges

Charitable impulse depends, of course, on personal financial circumstances and obligations to the family. Many households receive more charitable solicitations than they can satisfy, and many adults must manage the family budget closely. But in youth sports and elsewhere, adults seeking worthy causes that produce community betterment by serving needy youth do not have far to look.

Their child’s youth sports association, or the local parks and recreation department, may accept financial or in-kind donations toward fees or equipment for families that might otherwise be unable to meet the mounting costs of participation. Private donations may also help deliver state-of-the-art safety equipment such as automated external defibrillators (AEDs), which have saved lives.

National youth sports governing bodies maintain charitable initiatives that promote equal opportunity by reaching out to under-served youth. Because hockey is my sport, the USA Hockey Foundation, maintained by USA Hockey, comes to mind.

A parent or coach concerned about advancing player safety nationally might support leading advocacy and research organizations, such as the MomsTeam Institute of Youth Sports Safety.

Outside the sports arena, the parent or coach might have a favorite national, state, or local charity that focuses on needy youth. For example, children’s hospitals typically encourage donations not only for equipment and other direct medical needs, but also for toys, games, and similar amenities that make hospital stays more bearable for their sick and injured patients. These hospitals serve boys and girls from modest-income or indigent families, and from parents who might temporarily overlook toys and games amid the family dislocation that can accompany sudden hospitalization.

This list is meant to be illustrative, not exhaustive. The salient points are that private philanthropy matters, and that individual adults are the best judges of where their dollars can do the most good.

Filling Buckets

“But would my $25 donation really matter? Or would it simply be a drop in the bucket?”

“Every dollar makes a difference,” says former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, “and that’s true whether it’s Warren Buffett’s remarkable $31 billion pledge to the [Bill and Melinda] Gates Foundation, or my late father’s $25 check to the NAACP.”

In his fable, The Lion and the Mouse more than two thousand years ago, Aesop focused primarily on recipients: “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

In recent years, Maya Angelou reminded us that donations also pay rich dividends to donors: “Among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”

Buckets that collect seemingly small acts of kindness can fill to the brim.

Sources:  University of Missouri Children’s Hospital, Happiness For Health Endowment, http://www.muchildrensgiving.org/priority-happiness-for-health.html (endowed by Doug Abrams).

John Updike, in Encyclopedia of the Essay 868 (Tracy Chevalier ed., 1997); National Philanthropic Trust, Philanthropy Quotes, https://www.nptrust.org/history-of-giving/philanthropic-quotes/

(quoting Bloomberg and Angelou); Aesop, The Lion and the Mouse, Aesop’s Fables: A Classic Illustrated Edition, p. 38 (1990).