- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 26, 2019

Santa’s done his thing, and you’ve sifted through his deliveries to decide which you’ll keep, which you’ll regift and which (shrug) you’ll return to brick-and-mortar stores — or struggle to find the return labels for shipping.

While you’re at it, consider paying it forward. Donate to a worthy and reputable cause, and get a tax credit to boot.

Nonprofits you know as reputable are the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities, Covenant House and the Salvation Army, which aid families, veterans and distressed communities.

Covenant House focuses on youths in need.

A faith-based organization whose roots date to 1865 in London’s East End, the Salvation Army even then took on the evils of alcoholism and drug abuse without judging abusers. Today, its Harbor Light Centers’ inpatient substance-abuse programs offer personal counseling and group therapy, as well as anger management and other services.

Ignore the trolls, please. Charitable groups, like the Salvation Army, do for individuals and families what the government cannot because their mission is bound by faith and need, not government red tape.

In 1965, a Franciscan priest named Bruce Ritter and a handful of others began aiding homeless and runaway youth in a New York tenement. Today, Covenant House not only helps 13- to 24-year-olds with housing, but helps them to become self-sufficient in dozens of cities in the U.S. and elsewhere.

The young people, like adults, leave for home for various reasons, often because domestic abuse and sometimes because they simply can no longer cope. Covenant House shines a nonjudgmental light into their darkness.

Members of the LGBTQ community, who want government social services at their beck and call, should support organizations such as Covenant House.

What’s to say about Catholic Charities? Well, the Roman Catholic Church has been hard-hit in recent decades. Young believers are the leaving the church, and the sex-abuse scandals are ongoing.

According to an Associated Press tally reported Thursday, some 564 victims recouped $84 million so far for sex-abuse claims made in Pennsylvania.

An August 2018 report accused 300 priests, deacons and seminarians of more than 1,000 cases of “substantiated” sexual misconduct over 70 years.

The report also notes that church leaders covered up the abuse.

Each claimant is expected to receive an estimated $148,000. That’s a huge financial hit, so replenishing collection is necessary, even if you aren’t Catholic or religious.

Catholic Charities feeds, clothes and houses the needy. In other words, they aid humanity — period.

And then there’s the Red Cross. When a disaster strikes in Alabama or Arkansas, the Red Cross is there.

A fire struck a group home Monday in the Woodridge area of D.C., and the Red Cross was there, giving warm blankets to the 16 or so residents and guiding them toward social service options.

Besides financial donations, the Red Cross, frankly, is America’s blood bank. When there’s a mass shooting, a natural disaster bloody motor vehicle rampage, you can count on the Red Cross to collect, screen and deliver blood and plasma.

It also gives lifesaving training and works with communities and governments that simply cannot manage crises alone, think Hurricane Katrina and the disaster in Haiti.

The American Red Cross headquarters established in D.C. was in large part due to Clara Burton, who had witnessed the humanitarian services of International Committee of the Red Cross overseas, founded the American Red Cross, and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who was register of deeds for the District of Columbia, signed the organization’s original articles of incorporation.

If you don’t dread being mauled at malls to return a Christmas sweater because it’s the wrong color or a pair of Jimmy Choo’s shoes because they’re too pointy-toed, just imagine a world without the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, or America without Covenant House and Catholic Charities.

Get online and donate.

Their good deeds deserve your tax deductions and it never hurts to do the humanitarian thing and pay it forward.

⦁ Deborah Simmons can be contacted at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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