- Man arrested in car bomb plot at Kansas airport
- Prison inmates take up ‘Knockout’ game, target female officers
- U.S. Army hails success with drone-shooting laser
- John Kerry: Israel-Palestinian peace deal paved for April
- India diplomat who touts women’s rights busted for $3 wage to nanny
- MSNBC host Ed Schultz paid $252K by unions in 2012-2013
- Korean War memorial ordered to take down Christian cross
- Billy Graham near death, ‘close to going home to be with the Lord’
- SeaTac, Wash.: City’s new $15 minimum wage heads to court
- Obama mulls support for Islamists in Syria, with conditions
SIMMONS: Charity begins with research
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” — Matthew 25:40
It was an innocent gesture.
A woman shopping alone left her purse unattended in the cart while she stood in line to get a free sample at the grocery store. After she returned I pointed to her handbag and whispered to her, “Be careful. The hawks are waiting to swoop this time of year.”
She smiled, we exchanged Happy Thanksgivings and went in separate directions.
The Christmas shopping season officially kicked off Friday, and it’s a profitable time of the year for scam and con artists, and other thieves.
Fail to be vigilant, and a larceny-hearted thief can pick your pocket quicker than you can say “Merry Christmas.”
And thieves who pick your charitable pockets consider the holiday season the most wonderful time of the year because we are very giving during the holy season and looking forward to tax write-offs.
But beware: Due diligence is a must in charitable giving, too.
We’re inundated with e-mails and snail mail asking us to donate on behalf of the needy, and give to veteran and health organizations and other worthy causes whose cups don’t exactly runneth over, thanks to the recession.
The Federal Trade Commission suggests we check our potential donor list twice (www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt114.shtm). Common sense also goes a long way: If it sounds too good to be true, it’s a hoax.
There also are the cons who exploit natural disasters and causes that tug at our heartstrings, such as the Haitian earthquake and our veterans.
Some of the best advice I follow came from my dad, “Stick with what you know.”
I do. The Red Cross for always being at the ready. Whitman-Walker Clinic for its endless HIV/AIDS work. Greater Washington Urban League for fighting the good socioeconomic fight. Salvation Army for doing the Lord’s work even when nonbelievers try to silence their Christmastime bells.
Since my dad’s death, I’ve added Covenant House Washington, which rescues soiled youths who, unlike a lot of young knuckleheads roaming the streets, may be down on their luck through no fault of their own.
If you haven’t been solicited and are in search of a charitable group or worthy cause, check out the American Institute of Philanthropy’s website, charitywatch.org, where you can find alerts about disasters and other useful information, including a rating guide, an easily navigable A-Z listing and charitable purpose criteria.
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About the Author
Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...
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