Worthy Causes

Corporate Angels

Donate Please

Legislate Please

Making the Most Of Holiday Volunteers

Apply Please

Corrections or additions?

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

choices.

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

choices.

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:

Records. Give through JustGive and a record of all of

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.

Ease. With just a click — and no searching for a pen,

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.

Green peace. JustGive says that 100 million trees are

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

ever opened.

For those in search of last minute gifts with heart — and

without sweat — JustGive could be the answer.

Top Of Page
Worthy Causes

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

11 years.

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 Sam and Judy DeTuro and Family, owners of the

landscape company Woodwinds Associates, Michele and John Slapp,

St. Luke’s Church in Toms River, Roma Bank, the Mary

Owen Borden Foundation, St. Mathias Church in Somerset, Our

Lady of Lourdes in Whitehouse Station, and Automatic Data Processing.

From December 17 through 20, Martin House will distribute approximately

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 Our Lady of Sorrows of Mercerville

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.

Rescue Mission

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 Abalene Exterminating, Bennett

& Yoskin, Bloomberg, Borden-Perlman Insurance, Born

Brothers Plumbing and Heating, Stoolmacher Consulting Group,

New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company, Ford Farewell

Mills & Gatsch Architects, Nassau Helicopters, Cornerstone

Group, and Janssen Pharmaceutica.

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 United Methodist Women of Princeton,

the First Presbyterian Church of Dutch Neck, Saint Matthew’s

Episcopal Church, and Princeton University Chapel.

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

store.

Top Of Page
Corporate Angels

<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.

James Weaver, co-owner and chef of Tre Piani Ristorante

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

abroad."

Creative Marketing Alliance , the marketing communications

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.

Weichert Realtors’ Princeton office has collected holiday

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."

In the wake of the tragedies of September 11, the members of

the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA)

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.

The Community Projects Committee of the Mercer County Bar

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.

Princeton Satellite Systems of 33 Witherspoon Street organized

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

student internships.

Top Of Page
Donate Please

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 Allentown

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,

ext. 32.

Enable, a non-profit serving persons with disabilities and their

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.

The Foundation at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

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

at 609-584-6584.

Evolution Fitness , an East Windsor-based fitness center,

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

area.

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.

Top Of Page
Legislate Please

Phyllis Stoolmacher, director of the Mercer Street

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

Top Of Page
Making the Most Of Holiday Volunteers

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:

Smile. Be positive, pleasant, and enthusiastic. You never

know how these folks are connected and they should always be viewed

as potential long term volunteers.

Harvest. View holiday volunteers as a built-in group for

which you do not have to recruit. They will come — prepare, plan,

and involve them.

Simplify. Simplify your application process in order to

involve holiday volunteers.

Share. If you can not use holiday volunteers, network

with other area agencies that do utilize them. Refer interested people

to agencies that you know will be able to involve them.

Start small. The first time that you involve holiday volunteers,

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.

Leverage. Holiday volunteers contacted you because of

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.

Think ahead. When a potential volunteer calls, discover

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.

Holiday volunteers can be a challenge, but they are also a wonderful

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.

Top Of Page
Apply Please

The Business and Professional Women of Hightstown/East

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

application.


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