The Season for Giving

There’s a lot of talk about charity around the holidays, and a lot of giving happens right before the end of the year. We’d like to think that some of that isn’t just for tax purposes. Really, charity and compassion ought to be year-round pastimes. But there’s still something nice about creating a holiday glow by indulging in some authentic generosity to “the least of these.” If you’re considering giving, think about giving locally. Many of our fellow Montgomery residents don’t have it so good. Alabama’s a poor place, with a terrible unemployment rate and a lot of people who need the basics: food and shelter and clothing. There are a number of outstanding local charities where your time and money will pay off right here in the River Region.

There are a number of local charities that do great work with limited resources. Although we’re not able to list them all here, we thought we’d suggest a few that consistently impress us and get whatever spare money we have to share with others:

  • Alabama Arise – You get into dicey territory when you start talking about the causes of poverty. Some people think that poverty is a product of laziness (never mind those folks who happen to be born into families that are either rich or poor). But most people can agree that there are policy decisions that can impact how society operates — and that includes the issue of poverty. Montgomery-based Alabama Arise is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that wades into the difficult policy arena on behalf of low-income Alabamians. Sure, it’s good to provide a meal to someone who is hungry. But if you are able to leverage the state government to remove the state’s sales tax on groceries, you’re making a long-term impact on the dinner tables of low-income families across the state. There’s a “donate now” button on their site that can be used to make a tax-deductible gift.
  • Central Alabama Laubach Literacy Council – When we gave money earlier this year, we got a nice letter back explaining that our gift would be used to help buy computer software to help people improving their reading skills. We love the idea that someone may be learning to read, whether to earn a GED or just to get by a little better in a complex and confusing world. They aren’t likely to be reading this blog, but they are out there as our neighbors and as a part of our economy. Since we take reading for granted pretty much every day, we hope that the Literacy Council will keep up their good work. It’s nice knowing that your donation will help them procure software and pay for tutoring and staff. They don’t seem to have a website, but their email is callmgm@juno.com
  • Christmas Clearing House is a program of the Volunteer Information Clearing House. 10,000 people (including 6,000 children) are registered with this program. They make it possible to ensure that most who need help get it without some of the less scrupulous double- and triple-dipping.
  • Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless. On any given night, more than 650 people are homeless in the River Region. The Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless works to secure shelter and blankets for the needy right here in our town.
  • Montgomery Area Food Bank. For every $1 you give, they provide 6.5 pounds of food to distribute to the needy. That’s a heck of a return on investment. Despite the name, they cover 35 counties, working with 800 member agencies. The Food Bank is also actively seeking volunteers – there is an application on their website.
  • Montgomery Humane Society. We got our dog there, and when we decide to add more furry bundles of joy to our household, we’ll be back. The river region euthanizes an astonishingly large number of pets every year, and this beautiful facility is doing its best to complete families with loving cats and dogs. A gift to them goes a long way – $52 buys a Kuranda dog bed so a lonesome dog doesn’t have to sleep on the concrete while waiting for its new home.

At a time where we respond to “What do you want for Christmas?” with a shrug and a “We don’t really need anything,” we’d like to take an opportunity to encourage both the practice of giving, but also a philosophical defense of its virtues. In this holiday season, let’s try to give locally to make Montgomery a better place to live.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with a cat, a dog, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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  1. Jay Croft says:

    Beat you to it!

    Sent off a check to Alabama Arise this morning!

    Another easy way to give is to get whatever Publix offers as a one-cent special on Wednesdays. (You have to cut the coupon out of the newspaper first.)

    I get it whether I want it for myself or not. If not, I give the item to the food pantry at the Church of the Holy Comforter. They’re also glad to have soap, shampoo, etc that you pick up at motels. Plus,, I ask for paper bags at Publix, as the food pantry uses them to distribute food to their clients.

    The Food Pantry also accepts checks, of course!

    Bringing canned goods, etc. to food drives is a waste of money, since you’re paying retail for something that can be purchased much more cheaply by the Montgomery Area Food Bank or your local food pantry.

  2. Point well taken AND MAFB folk tell me the indepedent food drives and onesy-twosey gifts provide badly needed variety.

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