Our Opinion: Donate to causes that make this community stronger, residents’ lives better

November 15th, 2016 7:16 pm

Give locally.

In the coming weeks, as “the season of giving” gains steam, you’ll probably be asked to donate to dozens of worthwhile causes.

On the sidewalk, bell ringers will ding-a-ling, signalling a desire to accept your extra bills and coins. Store clerks will ask if you care to contribute spare change to support a food bank or other social program. Solicitations will fill your mailboxes (traditional and electronic), tugging at your heartstrings to save people and cure problems around the planet.

Even someone of Bill Gates-like wealth cannot fulfill all the requests, soothe all the hardships, solve all the troubles. Don’t try. Instead, be selective with your philanthropy – picking a few charities that most directly address the need or needs dearest to your heart. Is homelessness at the top of your list? Relief for cancer patients and their families? Child development? Animal welfare? The environment?

Chances are, no matter your prime area of interest, there’s a nonprofit program or project working locally to solve that social ill. Why not put your charitable dollars to work in Northeastern Pennsylvania, in the community you call home?

During this week, billed as Community Foundation Week, Americans are asked to consider the role that community philanthropy plays in making places more livable, especially for residents on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. Likewise, promoters of the campaign want you to become more aware of organizations such as The Luzerne Foundation. (Call 570-714-1570 or visit luzfdn.org.)

Begun in 1994, The Luzerne Foundation serves as a kind of clearinghouse for charitable giving in the Greater Wyoming Valley. Donors have established more than 300 funds; you can create a new fund today or donate to an existing one. The assets are invested, grown, and then given as grants.

The foundation previously reported that it holds more than $33 million and, through the years, has awarded in excess of $90 million in grants.

The foundation’s staffers, operating out of an office in Luzerne borough, also strive to raise awareness about the community’s emerging needs, and collaborate on solving complex issues such as expanding the local availability of behavioral health care. Similarly, after the devastating Susquehanna River flooding of 2011, this foundation led the charge to help West Pittston residents recover.

You can choose to do many things with your money.

Maybe the most significant choice, however, is to improve the lives of people in your community who are hurting, thereby making us all better off.