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Timeless gift ideas

Charity gifts offer a way to give back

Charity gifts offer a way to give back

December 11, 2005|By Kristin Wilson

kristinw@herald-mail.com

Some people just have everything.

So what can you do when there seems to be nothing a friend, family member or loved one could possibly want, need or desire?

This year, for those difficult to buy for, try a charity gift.

There are hundreds of nonprofit organizations in the Tri-State region that would be happy to accept a gift in someone's honor. If you ask, you probably will find nonprofit organizations that offer unique ways of giving a donation to honor a family member or loved one.

Many organizations have specific needs, such as assistance with a heating bill or help buying new office chairs. Instead of simply writing a check, you might be able to give a more specific gift in honor of someone on your list.

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The Breast Cancer Awareness ? Cumberland Valley organization suggests donations to help provide mammograms, says Joan Fell, executive director of the organization. Thanks to such donations, the organization can help eligible women and men receive free mammograms.

A standard screening mammogram costs between $135 and $150, Fell explains. For some, that cost is prohibitive for an annual screening.

Donating the cost of a mammogram in someone's honor "is going to help someone and possibly save someone's life," Fell says, reminding that early detection of breast cancer helps increase the chance of survival.

Sometimes people have "everything that they need and this is a nice way to honor or recognize someone," Fell says.

There are many ways to give when it comes to charity gifts. Some people offer a donation to nonprofit organizations or charities in the name of a deceased family member. Fell knows of one couple that consistently offers a donation to the Breast Cancer Awareness program during Christmastime in the name of the husband's deceased mother.

Other people ask family members and friends to donate money they would have spent on a gift to their charity of choice, says Becky Shank, director of development for the Hagerstown Rescue Mission.

"We have had people send in monetary donations saying, 'I've asked all my family members instead of buying me a gift, to send you the money they would have spent,'" Shank says.

Here are some other ideas to help get started in looking for the right charity gift:

n The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts gift membership

While there is no admission charge to the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, a membership does offer certain incentives and benefits, says Joe Ruzicka, museum director. Museum members receive a quarterly calendar of events and newsletter, an invitation to special events and a 10-percent discount on purchases at the museum gift shop.

The museum, too, receives a gift when people make donations in the form of memberships.

"The money that we get from our memberships underwrites a lot of our programs," Ruzicka says. Traveling exhibitions, concerts and free art classes are examples of some of the programs that donations help fund. Memberships "also keep people connected," Ruzicka adds. "They receive regular communications from us so that they know what's going on."

A yearlong membership can be purchased for $15 to $30.

Local chapters of The Salvation Army



One of the best ways to help community members who are most in need is to give donations to local chapters of The Salvation Army, says Dennis Sproull, an area leader and volunteer with The Salvation Army, Greencastle, Pa., chapter.

"We accept gifts to help with immediate needs of people in Greencastle, Shady Grove and State Line," says Sproull, who is also a pastor at First Assembly of God church in Greencastle. "That money goes completely to helping people in the immediate area."

Donations are used for such immediate assistance needs as helping to pay heating bills or helping to buy groceries for someone who has been laid off from a job.

"There are more ways of giving than in just giving a gift," Sproull says. In fact, he reminds, giving a charity donation is in line with the spirit of Christmas, he adds.

"We try to tell people that we're here to help in the spirit of Christ," he says, regarding the assistance provided by The Salvation Army. Anyone who receives a gift of a donation in their name to an organization like The Salvation Army "will know that they are helping some very, very needy people," Sproull says.

Hagerstown Rescue Mission



The rescue mission serves families, children and homeless people in the community. The organization's mission includes offering groceries to families in need, and a shelter for homeless and drug-addicted men.

Shank says the mission has many different programs that would welcome donations given as Christmas presents.

"If someone would call and say, 'I have a really special friend and they don't want me to get them anything for Christmas, but I want to do something,' we could always come up with ideas for someone," she says. For example, "Someone could choose to sponsor or buy the groceries that it would take to fill a bag for someone in the community," Shank says. Or, donations of gloves and hats for several men in the shelter could be given in honor of a friend.

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