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The Season of Giving

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'Tis better to give than to receive.

Family packing toys for donation

Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla: Most of us are stretched pretty thin this time of year, but there is always someone who's worse off. Really, lots and lots of people ....

Try to remember how very lucky you are, and think about ways to help others have a good holiday season. If you can afford a cash donation to a charitable organization, you will be able to take a deduction for this year's taxes. Make sure you are giving to a charity where most of your donation goes to helping, and not someone's salary. I like to check out the charities I am considering on CharityNavigator.net.

Avoid giving over the phone unless the solicitor identifies him or herself as a volunteer -- otherwise, a percentage (sometimes a pretty hefty one) of what you give will go to the company that is making those telephone solicitations. If you can't swing a cash donation, now is a great time to clean out your closets, pantry and kids' rooms and donate items. You're probably going to need to make room for some new items that are coming from Santa, anyway.

Last, but most definitely not least, give the gift of time. Volunteer to help out your favorite charity or a local school, hospital, nursing home, shelter, library or museum. If you're looking for ideas, check out VolunteerMatch.org, where you can search your area for volunteer opportunities. Get the whole family involved and make some new holiday traditions!



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