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Carole Estabrook

In tough economic times I am genuinely moved by the amount of seasonal giving coming from the lint-filled pockets of struggling Cayuga County residents.

Let’s face it, times are tough and everyone is tightening the old belt. But despite the economic downturn, charitable giving seems to be on the rise.

The United Way of Cayuga County exceeded its campaign goal by $66,000, quite a feat in a weak economy. In total the United Way raised $1.2 million to support various agencies throughout the county. The agencies that receive funding from the United Way provide programs and services for at risk youth, the elderly, people with disabilities and families in financial need.

Coincidentally, I became a United Way donor for the first time this year. A young professional, I don’t really have a disposable income, but a girlfriend of mine suggested that I give a dollar a week. She told me that she increases her weekly donation by one dollar every year. She has been donating for a few years now and she said it hasn’t impacted her finances one bit.

True, my dollar a week isn’t a “make or break” kind of donation. But I feel good knowing that my $52 a year will help someone in need.

I am also impressed by the number of stores that are helping charitable organizations with “round-up the change” programs. Basically shoppers are asked during checkout if they want to “round-up” their purchase price to the nearest dollar and donate the difference to a sponsored charity.

I think “round-up the change” is a wonderful system because people don’t carry as much cash as they used to. A coworker of mine recently remarked at how embarrassed she was not to have any cash on hand to give to the Salvation Army for their red kettle drive. “Can you take a debit card?” She joked as she fumbled through her purse.

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Surprisingly, some of the larger cities have machines on hand to process debit card donations.

Or, the Salvation Army also encourages people to donate through a smartphone app, making charitable giving all the more convenient for shoppers on the go.

And some stores offer scan vouchers for donations. By scanning a voucher, you can add a dollar or two to your holiday grocery list.

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Whether people are scanning, rounding, or good old fashioned “loose changing” it, it is wonderful to know that generosity in Cayuga County hasn’t sunk with the economy.

Estabrook’s column appears

Mondays and she can be reached at estabrookcarole@yahoo.com

 

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