Our Views: Please be generous during this 'giving season'
Wisconsinites like to think of themselves as charitable people, especially around the holidays.
But in the midst of another “giving season,” it might surprise you to learn that Wallethub ranks Wisconsin a lowly 41st overall in charitable giving. Wallethub, an online personal finance resource based in Washington, D.C., analyzed eight key metrics, including volunteer rate, the percentage of the population that donates time and money, and the median contribution to charity.
If you consider that ranking unfair, this is a good time of year to show Wallethub that, at least around here, charity comes naturally.
The economy is improving nationally and locally, but not everyone is enjoying good times. As a Gazette story Saturday explained, many people have lost FoodShare benefits through a change in state law. That means even more families are turning to food pantries and other charities for Christmas cheer.
Janesville and Rock County have many ways in which those with the time and financial means can help others. Here is a sampling:
-- ECHO, the church-sponsored Janesville charity known as Everyone Cooperating to Help Others, is accepting new, unwrapped toys and cash donations to buy them through Friday, Dec. 18. ECHO also needs holiday wrapping paper and batteries for toys. Needy families must preregister with a photo ID, utility bill and proof of household income by Monday at ECHO, 65 S. High St. The distribution will be Friday, Dec. 18, at St. John Lutheran Church, 302 N. Parker Drive.
Also, ECHO's annual Christmas Day dinner—open to all—will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 25, at St. William Catholic Church, 1820 Ravine St.
Those wishing to help with either event should contact Fran Brien at 608-754-5333.
-- Have you passed any red kettles lately without dropping in money? Please don't. The Janesville Salvation Army gets much of its annual revenue through this Christmastime fundraiser. The charity set a goal of raising $420,000 this year. That's $25,000, or 5 percent, more than last year's goal, which the organization met. The goal reflects a greater demand for services including rent assistance, transitional housing and emergency help.
Or consider signing up to tend a kettle and ring bells. Visit janesvillesa.org or call Julie Cunningham at 608-757-8300, ext. 10.
The Salvation Army, at 514 Sutherland Ave., also needs hams, turkeys and money to buy them to fill its annual Christmas food baskets. Last year, the charity provided holiday meals to more than 300 needy households.
-- The Marine Corps League's Rock County Toys for Tots program has two dozen drop-off locations in Janesville and others in Beloit, Evansville, Edgerton and Milton. To find the nearest drop spot for new, unwrapped toys, visit http://Janesville-wi.toysfortots.org. To volunteer, contact Julie Cunningham at 608-931-8376 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- The 91st annual Good Samaritan Fund is sponsored by The Gazette and radio stations WCLO and WJVL. Donations as of Tuesday topped $13,000 but trailed last season's pace. Money is distributed to ECHO, the Salvation Army and the United Way Blackhawk Chapter. Send donations to: Good Samaritan Fund, P.O. Box 5001, Janesville, WI 53547-5001 or drop them off at The Gazette, 1 S. Parker Drive.
-- On Friday, WCLO/WJVL and The Gazette will again present 12 Hours of Bringing, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Blain's Farm & Fleet. This broadcast and drive-through donation marathon helps Blain's conclude its Kids Helping Kids Campaign to benefit ECHO and the Salvation Army. Listen for special incentives for dropping off donations. Bring unwrapped toys, personal care items, nonperishable food or cash and check donations. Festival Foods is providing a giant cart for customers to make donations and will deliver it to the event.
Every community in our region offers ways to help others and defy Wallethub's ranking of Wisconsin. Especially at this time of year, Christians pay close attention to Christ's message about helping the less fortunate. Know that those you're helping appreciate your generosity.