Thursday, December 29, 2011

Resolve to help others--and cut your tax bill--this New Year's!

Photo courtesy
This time of year, many of us are making some New Year's resolutions. Often, these involve eating better, getting more exercise and other plans for self-improvement during the coming year. For proof, just check out the extra cars in the parking lot at your local gym over the next few weeks!

Many people also make charitable contributions at the end of the year as part of this holiday tradition. The American Red Cross urges you to resolve to help your neighbors in need by making a tax-deductible donation to the Red Cross before the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve.

A Red Cross national poll found that 57 percent of those surveyed planned to donate to charity during the holiday season, and more than half of them (54 percent) plan to give at least $50. Nationally, donations in December account for about 20 percent of all non-disaster contributions from the public to the Red Cross, and we depend on these donations to provide hope, help and compassion.

Hundreds of thousands of people needed help from the Red Cross in 2011, their lives forever changed by disasters like tornadoes, floods, wildfires and hurricanes in the U.S., and earthquakes and other disasters around the world. In the U.S., the Red Cross launched 137 domestic disaster relief operations in 46 states and territories to help people affected by fires, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes. In addition, major international disasters included the Japan earthquake and tsunami response and the continuing work following the 2010 Haiti earthquake. The need was evident here in Erie and Niagara Counties over the Christmas weekend as our Disaster Action Team responded to multiple fires, providing emergency assistance to families that lost everything in the blink of an eye this holiday.

If your New Year's Resolutions include helping those less fortunate, you can make a donation at, by calling 1-800-REDCROSS, or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation (charges will appear on your cell phone bill). 

In addition, you can still go to the American Red Cross Holiday Gift Catalog and buy a symbolic gift. These also are tax-deductible contributions to the overall Red Cross mission. The catalog includes donations for items such as a military comfort kit filled with a phone card, robe, shower shoes, toiletries and an MP3 music gift card for those who have been wounded. Disaster-related items include blankets to wrap around a woman standing in her yard this winter after her house has burned to the ground; hot meals to make sure no one goes hungry when a disaster strikes; or a toothbrush, soap and other essential personal care supplies for a child sheltered from a storm. For those with global interests, the Holiday Gift Catalog contains a number of gifts to bring Red Cross services to people in crisis overseas. These include emergency water containers to help families collect and store clean water, tarps to provide temporary shelter and shovels to dig ditches when floods threaten.

What better way to finish 2011 than with early action on a resolution to lend a helping hand? Help someone in need and resolve to contribute to the Red Cross before the traditional singing of Auld Lang Syne, and you'll also be helping yourself to break on your 2011 taxes. Now that's something we can all raise our champagne glasses to this New Year's Eve!!