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Sharing with others in the Season of Giving

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Sharing with others in the Season of Giving

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The holiday season is full of decisions: What gift should I buy for that certain someone? How can I share with others to invoke the true spirit of the holidays?
As an alternative to gift-giving, many savvy national nonprofit organizations encourage monetary donations made in the names of those on your gift list. As an alternative to this, each year the Free Weekly invites local nonprofit groups to submit their wish lists to give you the opportunity to share locally. Even if you don’t have the budget to donate items, there are opportunities to spend a few hours this holiday season wrapping gifts, delivering Santa baskets to the homebound or playing Santa’s helper. Before you donate items listed below, call the organization for specific details. All of the organizations also welcome financial donations.

Unfortunately the holiday season is seen as an opportunity for scam artists, who often take advantage of the generosity of others during the holiday season. Along with the spam that consumers find in their e-mail inboxes, e-mail phishing scams disguised as legitimate charity solicitations are not unusual.

In previous holiday seasons and after natural disasters, Arkansans have received e-mails from scam artists who use hijacked logos from the Red Cross and other aid organizations. These scam artists try to get money or personal information to be used for identity theft.

Unsolicited e-mail solicitations asking for charitable donations should always be deleted immediately. If someone calls on the phone asking for donations, get their number and offer to call them back. Then find a listing for the charity and initiate the call yourself. You can check on whether a charity is registered in Arkansas by going to www.arkansasag.gov and clicking on the box marked “charity giving.”

Consider the following tips from the Arkansas Attorney General’s office before you give.

• Be wary of appeals that are emotional, rather than factual, in their explanation of how the charity will actually help victims.
• Check out the charity with the Attorney General’s Office or with the Better Business Bureau before you give.
• If you contribute, do not give cash. Make your check or money order to the name of the organization, not to an individual.
• Watch out for excessive pressure for on-the-spot donations.
• Never give your credit-card number or other personal information to a telephone solicitor.
• Ask what percentage of your gift will actually be used for the charitable cause and how much will go to the fundraiser.

Here is a wish list from a number of local nonprofit organizations where you can help this holiday season.

Art Center of the Ozarks provides educational opportunities for all ages. They could use donations of six, eight and 12 foot ladders, a portable CD player, hot roller sets, lipstick and cheek color (all new, please). 751-5441.

Big Brothers and Big Sisters of NWA helps children through one-on-one relationships. They need help this Christmas with their holiday party. Needed are drinks, cookies, volunteers to help with crafts, and jolly people to be Santa helpers. The office needs general office supplies, two laptop computers, a color printer, a locking lateral file cabinet, board games and sporting equipment and gift certificates for door prizes and awards to children. www.bbbsnwa.org or 756-5683.

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks would like a walk behind mower, fencing, garden tools and a laminating machine. www.bgso.org or 750-2620.

Cancer Support Home provides comfort and hope to those learning to live with cancer. Needed are donations of new wigs (all lengths, styles and colors), hats, caps and scarves. These are provided free to clients. Office volunteers are needed at the Fayetteville and Bentonville locations. 521-8024.

Children’s House needs volunteers to help with office work, classes and general chores. Donations of classroom supplies, kitchen paper goods, cleaning supplies and outdoor play equipment for children are needed. 443-5239.

Cooperative Emergency Outreach (CEO) needs non-perishables and canned goods. These items can be dropped off between 1 and 3 p.m. weekdays at 419 W. Rock St. in Fayetteville. Call Vic Langanke 444-7091.

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of NWA. These independent court appointed advocates speak for the best interest of children in custody issues. Needed are donations of phone and gas cards for clients, small gifts and toys for children and general office supplies. To become an advocate you must be 21 years old, pass a background check, complete a 30-hour, five-week training and commit to a family or child for one year. www.nwacasa.org or 725-2213.

Faith in Action provides services to homebound seniors and disabled persons. Donations of everyday needs and toiletries are needed by Dec. 13 for Project Santa baskets. Call for specifics. Volunteers are also needed to deliver the gift baskets. Call Sarah Bartlette 713-1725.

LifeStyles, Inc. needs volunteers to help sand and gesso art boards. Donations of shoe boxes, hole punches, staplers, scissors, sandwich baggies (all sizes), aprons, sandpaper, PVC pipe, zippers, buckets, plastic storage containers, tie-dye supplies, fabric, textiles, weaving supplies and a karaoke machine. Call Jennifer Maynard 713-1171.

Northwest Arkansas Rape Crisis always needs sample or travel size hygiene and vanity items (deodorant, shampoo, soap, makeup, lipstick, hair brushed) sweat pants, children’s toys, coloring books and craft items (pipe cleaners, glue, glitter, pencils, paper). Call Brannon Randolph at 927-1025 or Randolph@jtlshop.jonesnet.org. Hotline for help is 1-800-794-4175.

OMNI Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology needs office space. Space donated to nonprofit organizations can be deducted from taxes at fair market value. Call Gladys Tiffany 973-9049 or gladystiffany@yahoo.com.

Peace at Home Shelter is dedicated to ending family violence. Needed are donations of new items for women, teens and children for their Santa Sack program, which allows clients to “shop” for each other from the donated items. Volunteers are needed to help with gift wrapping, sorting and unloading for Santa Sack. Call Cody Ford at 444-8310.

Seven Hills Homeless Shelter needs donations of blankets, sleeping bags, disposable razors, canned meats, stew, chili, hearty soups. Also needed are a washing machine and vacuum cleaner. Volunteers are needed for regular weekly two to three hour shifts for answering the phone, receiving, sorting and distributing items. Call 251-7776.

Shiloh Museum of Ozark History would like a shelving unit, heavy-duty plastic storage bins with lids, a mobile wire bookshelf, a laptop computer, a drill press, table, miter, and band-saw. Call Allyn Lord at 750-8165.

Sources a non-profit advocacy group for disabled people of all ages needs wheelchairs in good working condition, shower chairs, bath benches and adjustable canes. Volunteers are needed to do lawn work for those in need. Call Gwen 442-5600.

Youth Bridge provides at-risk teens with counseling and a residential substance abuse program. Needed are donations of household furniture, twin size bedding, toiletries and hygiene items, Playstation games, movies (G, PG, PG13). Call Anna Gill 521-1532 or www.youthbridge.com.

YouthCan!, Art Explosion, assists low-income and at-risk children. Needed are donations of art supplies (chalk, pastels, watercolors, paper, paint, pencils, etc.), and a new heavy-duty vacuum cleaner. Also needed are volunteers to help with data entry and someone with a carpet cleaner to clean the carpets. Call David Metzger 927-2020.

United Way is an umbrella organization for local aid organizations. For volunteer opportunities go to www.unitedwaynwa.org or call 750-1221.

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