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This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the December 18, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Giving a Last Minute Gift of Giving
What to do when you want to remember employees, co-workers,
clients, and far flung friends with a gift that has meaning, and is
just right for each of them, but you have little time for shopping,
let alone reflection? JustGive.org (www.justgive.org) has the answer.
This charitable giving website has a number of creative options for
creating interactive gifts of giving.
Its corporate gift section invites employers to create a list of charities,
E-mail the list to employees, and then make a donation tailored to
the employees’ choices. Employers may choose to send the list JustGive
has put together or to augment it with up to 12 of their own charity
JustGive breaks charities down into categories based upon the groups
they serve. Among the categories its employers’ list are aid to animals
(In Defense of Animals), children (Children’s Wish Foundation International),
community (Center for Community Change), disaster relief (Americares),
Overseas aid (Doctors Without Borders), and women (Global Fund for
Women). Broadening the choice is easy. JustGive draws upon a database
of 850,000 charities, and includes information on their financials,
a complete report on the charity where available, and links to the
charities’ websites. Most, but not all, local charities are included.
A search for HomeFront and Mercer Street Friends turned them up right
away, but the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen was nowhere to be found, either
listed by its full name or by its initials.
A nice thing about the JustGive gift is that it gives recipients a
choice. It’s sort of like a gift certificate to a mall. Choices are
not unlimited, but there are a satisfying number of them. This may
feel better than receiving a card saying that XYZ Corp. has decided
to donate X number of dollars to cause Y. The choices let employees
have some input.
Once all of the employees have E-mailed or called in their choices,
JustGive lets the employer know how many people have chosen what charities.
It then divides the employers’ donation proportionately among the
For individuals, JustGive offers a number of creative last-minute
gift choices as well. It has grouped a number of popular charities
into 12 "baskets." They include Inspire Children & Change
Their Lives, Feed and Empower the Hungry, Provide Mentors to Children,
Protect Animals and Prevent Cruelty, Support Women of the World, Create
Peace for All, Plant Trees, Provide Shelter for Animals, Create Homes
& Jobs, Save the Earth, Respect Our Elders, and Promote Human Rights.
JustGive lists four charities under each heading. Under Create Homes
& Jobs, for instance, it includes Habitat for Humanity, Partnership
for the Homeless, the Doe Fund, and Jobs for Homeless People. But,
again, individuals can add local charities to the list. Next to each
charity is a box in which to type the amount to go to each charity.
A $50 gift, for instance, could be broken up into $10 apiece for five
charities. If the donation is to be a gift, JustGive will inform the
recipient by E-mail or by snail mail as you direct.
How about a special gift for the boss’s animal-loving daughter, or
for your own favorite animal lover? JustGive provides a plethora of
choices, all of which can be ordered and on their way in seconds.
Among the options is Adopt-A-Farm-Animal. A rabbit or chicken can
be kept in comfort for one month at a sanctuary in New York or in
California for just $10. The tab goes up to $15 for a duck, goose,
or turkey, $25 for a sheep or a goat, $35 for a pig — think Babe,
or $50 for a cow. The story of the animal — along with a photo
— goes out to the person in whose name you made the donation,
and visits are permitted at designated times.
For gift recipient whose hearts soften more for creatures of the sea
than for those on the farm, JustGive can connect you to Adopt a Marine
Mammal, where $31 provides enough herring to feed a malnourished seal
for a day and $103 provides a diagnostic X-ray for a fractured flipper
surgery. Back on land, JustGive will connect you to the International
Wolf Center, where $27 helps out a wolf pup. A picture and biography
of the pup is sent along to the person you designate along with a
National Geographic white wolf video, a wolf pup book, stickers, a
wolf puzzle, and a pencil with paw prints.
Still on the wild side, JustGive facilitates donations
to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, Defenders of Wildlife,
and the International Wildlife Coalition’s Whale Adoption Project.
Each group sends along adoption certificates and other information
for donations ranging from $26 (for a snowy owl) to $309 (for a silverback
gorilla). Often, these animal charities throw in stuffed animals,
books, and other kid-pleasing extras.
JustGive, a non-profit organization, encourages giving over the Internet,
and points out some of the advantages:
your charitable gifts are in one place — and they stay there.
This largely does away with the tax-time hunt for receipts, and provides
an easy response should Uncle Sam question your giving.
stamps, or an envelope — your gift is on its way. If it is to
be a gift, the recipient is notified automatically. It takes little
more time to give to three, four, or 40 charities than it does to
give to one.
cut down each year to supply the paper on which non-profits send out
their 12 billion solicitation letters, only 10 percent of which are
without sweat — JustGive could be the answer.
Martin House provides low-income housing, educational
opportunities, services to homeless families, youth activities, and
summer camps for inner-city Trenton families. Among its more ambitious
fund drive initiatives is the solicitation of gifts of $21,000, which
is all it needs to build a new home. It performs this feat by marrying
state and federal grants, as well as donations of land by the City
of Trenton, to the donation and by combining the money with sweat
equity, volunteers, and discounted services of vendors, mechanics,
contractors, and professionals.
Homes are sold to residents of the Wilbur section of Trenton for $21,000.
Martin House holds 11-year, no interest mortgages on the homes. In
addition, the homeowners, whose income has to fall between $18,000
and $30,000 for a family of four, agree to provide sweat equity for
Donors who want to add another $9,000 to their gift provide a family
with educational programs in addition to a new house. Among the individuals
and organizations stepping up to provide that "keystone" gift
this year were
landscape company Woodwinds Associates,
Owen Borden Foundation,
Lady of Lourdes in Whitehouse Station, and
7,000 holiday gifts to more than 2,000 children from 500 families.
Gifts are donated through Martin House’s Adopt A Family program, an
annual effort established more than 15 years ago to contribute necessities
to the Wilbur section, which represents 17 percent of the total Trenton
population and is one of the most economically, socially, and physically
blighted neighborhoods in the city.
Through Adopt A Family, program gift recipients fill out a simple
form that sets out the age, sex and clothing size of a child in need.
Children are matched with contributors and once gifts are donated,
they are then delivered to Martin House, where the families pick up
their gifts, in accordance with a system prioritized by date and time
numbered tickets for organization. Donations consist of primarily
clothing and donors may contribute multiple gifts. More than half
of gift recipients are families who have been signed up by volunteers
who operate the Martin House clothing store.
Bristol-Myers Squibb and
are the biggest supporter of the program, representing 75 percent
of all Adopt A Family gift donations. Bristol-Myers Squibb’s gifts
were delivered by truck to Martin House on December 13 to be sorted.
"We are extremely proud to be participating in Adopt A Family
for the 12th consecutive year," said Dinorah Williams, senior
region sales coordinator for Bristol-Myers Squibb.
"We are delighted to thank those who have contributed gifts this
year and who have shown ongoing support for the Adopt A Family program,"
said Father Brian, president of Martin House. "It has such a positive
impact when you give to the children of this community, especially
during the holiday season." To date, Martin House has provided
more than 4,000 adults and children with housing and educational services
to better their lives.
In its latest fiscal year, the Rescue Mission of Trenton
provided 40,284 bed nights and 87,266 meals in its emergency shelter,
5,996 meals in its weekend soup kitchen, 15,547 bed days in its residential
addiction treatment program, 12,782 bed days in its rooming and boarding
house, and 3,706 free distributions of clothing and furniture.
The non-profit, which is working to upgrade its physical plant while
coping with increased demand, acknowledges that this is a challenging
economic climate in which to ask for contributions. Says CEO Mary
Gay Abbott-Taylor, "Without your support, the Mission would be
unable to provide home and hope for the homeless, the hungry, the
transient, and the addicted. We recognize that these are very difficult
times for you and your families, but know you’ll be as generous as
you can to this year’s appeal."
Among the corporations and professional organizations that helped
the Rescue Mission last year are
Brothers Plumbing and Heating,
Mills & Gatsch Architects,
The Rescue Mission’s annual report is a window into the complexity
of keeping a non-profit afloat. In addition to an extensive list of
diverse corporate donors, the organization received funds and gifts
in kind from hundreds of individuals and from dozens of religious
organizations, including the
Episcopal Church, and
All together, donations from individuals and groups supplied 6 percent
of the Rescue Mission’s income. Another 52 percent came from government
contracts and reimbursements; 8 percent came from resident fees and
food stamps; 2 percent came from entrepreneurial activities; and 32
percent came from industrial salvage and from sales at its Trenton
<d>Hamilton Jewelers celebrated its 90th Anniversary
on December 7 and 8 by raising money for the Princeton Area Community
Foundation’s Greater Mercer Grants Program. Every person donating
$25 to PACR at Hamilton Jewelers’ Nassau Street location was given
a $25 Hamilton gift card.
in Forrestal Village, has been named Chef of the Year by Share Our
Strength, which has distributed more than $70 million to more than
1,000 anti-hunger, anti-poverty programs worldwide.
Weaver has participated in Share Our Strength’s major fundraiser,
Taste of the Nation, for 12 years. In 2002, he hosted a pre-event
reception at Tre Piani, drawing 70 attendees.
"Chef Jim Weaver has exhibited outstanding commitment in the fight
against hunger through his work with Share Our Strength’s Taste of
the Nation in Princeton," says Bill Shore, founder and executive
director of the organization. "By helping us raise awareness and
funds in the fight to end hunger, Jim’s dedication will be deeply
felt by the people facing food insecurity and poverty at home and
firm with offices at 191 Clarksville Road, has been given the Be a
Hero award for a public awareness campaign it created for the Red
Cross of Central New Jersey. The campaign met the Red Cross’s need
for increased visibility for its CPR program, and other initiatives,
including disaster services and Meals on Wheels.
items for sailors stationed on the USS Cowpens, a guided missile destroyer
in support of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier.
"This is a great way for the public to help and it is our pleasure
to do whatever we can as an office," says Joshua Wilton, branch
manager. "In addition, a sales associate in our office has a son
on this ship so it is a cause close to all of our hearts."
created a volunteer help center to help the families of victims cope
with the financial stress. Over the course of the year, New Jersey
CPAs assisted approximately 100 families, helping them to assess their
current financial situation and to develop a financial action plan.
As a result of this experience, NJSCPA members have decided to expand
the New Jersey CPA Help Center into an ongoing program to provide
free assistance to Garden State residents who find themselves victims
of a tragedy. The service now is available to anyone who lives in
New Jersey and who either cannot afford the services of a CPA or who
simply does not currently have a CPA. The circumstances may be any
sudden, catastrophic event, such as a criminal act or a natural disaster.
Assistance includes estate calculation, retirement income calculation,
insurance needs analysis, investment review, income tax analysis,
and development of a financial plan. Call 973-226-4494 or visit www.njscpa.org/help.
Association is participating in an Adopt-a-Family program this
holiday season. The committee, through Catholic Charities of Mercer
County, has adopted more than 50 families in the Mercer area. Wrapped
gifts will be distributed by members of the Community Projects Committee
to needy families in the community.
"Our goal is to provide holiday cheer for some of the impoverished
families of Mercer County," says Francine Kowalczyk, executive
director of the Mercer County Bar Association.
and ran Space Week for kindergartners at the Princeton Community Park
school during the week of December 9. The students participated in
a different space-related project every day.
Space Week is the latest in Princeton Satellite Systems educational
endeavors that include learning editions of the Spacecraft and Aircraft
Control Toolboxes for MATLAB, lectures at Princeton University, and
HomeFront, which provides temporary housing for homeless
families and supports them in a move to independence, is coming up
short on a basic human need. Connie Mercer, executive director of
the organization, wrote in a recent newsletter: "One of the most
difficult things I’ve ever had to do was post a notice on HomeFront’s
door last week saying that our food pantry was closed because we’d
run out of food."
She went on to say that "the painful truth is that four times
in the past few months we have had to turn away hungry parents and
children. We also have single adults, usually elderly or physically
challenged, coming to us for food."
One year ago, HomeFront was giving away 379 bags of emergency food
a month. That number has risen to 588 bags. A large portion of the
food comes from the Mercer Street Friends food bank. The
Presbyterian Church makes an annual contribution to the food bank
for HomeFront’s use. This year, the contribution was exhausted far
earlier than in previous years.
Individuals and organizations hold food drives for HomeFront, and
while the non-profit is grateful, Mercer says that cash donations
go farther. This is so food with a retail value of $38.51 can be purchased
from a food bank or a wholesaler for approximately $6.24. To help
out with a donation to feed those who turn to HomeFront call 609-989-9417.
HomeFront also is seeking Santas to fulfill holiday wishes for children
living at a subsistence level. Each child makes a wish list of three
items — none of which should exceed $30 — that he or she would
most like to have for Christmas. To makes these wishes come true call
Fontella Cawley at 609-989-9417, ext. 36, or Lynne Helmke at 609-989-9417,
families in Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, and Somerset Counties, is
still looking for companies to take part in its Holiday Gift Basket
Program. Gifts, gift certificates, or food items can be delivered
to Enable’s offices at 13B Roszel Road. If wrapped, packages should
be topped by a card identifying their contents. Unwrapped gifts should
be accompanied by wrapping paper. Call Diane Benner at 609-987-5003
for more information.
at Hamilton has opened its second Grounds for Healing and is seeking
gifts to supports these gardens, which provide patients and their
families access to areas specifically designed to promote healing.
The first garden opened last May and is located between the emergency
room and the Women and Infant Pavilion. It features two sculptures,
bamboo, and a donor brick pathway. The second garden is visible from
each of the treatment areas of the Cancer Center infusion unit. It
contains four sculptures, a waterfall, and a selection of rare rhododendrons.
There are also several trellis areas that were constructed so that
patients can receive treatments in the garden if they wish.
Donors who give $100 or $500 will be able to have a brick placed in
a garden path in honor of a family member or to celebrate a special
family event. A donation of $2,500 is recognized with a walkway planter,
a donation of $1,000 with a bench, and a donation of $5,000 is recognized
with a bamboo garden. Other options — including naming a garden,
$100,000 — are available. For more information call Brenda Zanoni
is set to host Ride Across America — a four-hour spin ride —
on Sunday, January 26, at 9 a.m. Thirty participants will take part
in the event, which will raise funds for Womanspace and for the Trenton
Area Soup Kitchen.
Womanspace is dedicated to improving the quality of life for women
in crisis in the Mercer County Area, while the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen
provides more than 2,500 meals a week to people in need in the Trenton
Each participant in the spin is asked to raise at least $100. Prized
donated by local merchants will be awarded to the rider who raises
the most money.
Donations of any amount are appreciated. To support the efforts of
all participants, send a check payable to Womanspace or to TASK and
mail it to Evolution Fitness, 510 Route 130, Royal Plaza, East Windsor
08520. For more information, call Sharon LaForge, Susan Barnhart,
or Arnold Cantor at 609-448-4501.
Phyllis Stoolmacher, director of the
Friends Food Cooperative, has joined anti-hunger advocates in urging
state lawmakers to approve legislation creating a Community Food Pantry
Fund subsidized by voluntary contributions by state income taxpayers.
"As the economy continues to struggle," says Stoolmacher,
"the need is expanding but our resources are not."
The legislation was introduced just before Thanksgiving by Assemblyman
Gordon M. Johnson and Assemblywoman Loretta Weinberg. It would
allow taxpayers to contribute to a community food pantry fund using
a designated check-off on state income tax return forms. Money deposited
in the fund would be distributed by the state Department of Human
Services with help from the Department of Agriculture and the Department
of Health and Senior Services.
Already the New Jersey tax return lists several special funds. Last
year, taxpayers donated more than $246,000 for wildlife conservation
and nearly $80,000 for the Battleship New Jersey.
Kathleen McGinn Spring
The urge to take part in some hands-on helping often
strikes at about the time Thanksgiving turkeys make their first appearance
and reaches a crescendo in the cold, dark days before the end of the
year. With goodwill a major theme of the season, and the urgency of
need easy to grasp against a backdrop of holiday cheer, many people
suddenly feel an urge to help out. Collecting coats, serving dinners
to the homeless, giving toys to children who have none, all of these
simple acts of charity seem important — necessary — during
the year-end holidays.
This is the time of year when non-profits get calls from individuals,
office groups, and families hoping to help out. Not thinking about
the organizational issues involved in putting untrained volunteers
to work with little notice, many people hope to put in a holiday appearance
at a soup kitchen or food bank.
Accommodate them all as best as possible. This is the message of Charity
Channel (www.charitychannel.com), an online resource for the non-profit
community. No, it is not easy, Georgean Johnson-Coffey acknowledges
in an article on the website, but the effort pays off richly long
term. Here’s her advice:
know how these folks are connected and they should always be viewed
as potential long term volunteers.
which you do not have to recruit. They will come — prepare, plan,
and involve them.
involve holiday volunteers.
with other area agencies that do utilize them. Refer interested people
to agencies that you know will be able to involve them.
start small. Acknowledge to them that this is a new service and tell
them they are part of a pilot program and they will help give feedback
for improvement for next year.
an interest in what your agency accomplishes. Take advantage of this.
Send a thank-you note to those who inquire with a list of current
needs that includes long and short-term volunteer opportunities. One
of these may spark future interests on their part.
what their passion, skills, and interests are. You may not be able
to place them at the holidays, but you may be able to plug them into
an upcoming event or opening.
opportunity to involve talented, motivated individuals. With the right
perspective, positive attitude, and careful planning, holiday volunteers
can indeed be precious gifts to volunteer programs, agencies, and
to our communities.
Windsor is now accepting applications for its Career Development
awards. These awards are given to women 25 years of age or older who
are continuing their education or are returning to school in a 2-year,
4-year, or vocational training program.
The application deadline is February 28. Call 609-443-4593 for an
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