Business Monday

Helping the needy: Three criteria to weigh as you donate

The holidays always remind us of the poverty in our community: children who go to bed hungry, the jobless, and the homeless. “Giving Tuesday,” year-end tax appeals, and the spirit of holiday joy remind us of the need to help. Even if not top-of-mind, the needs of Miami-Dade County are year-round.

According to the Stanford University Center on Poverty and Inequality 2014 Report Card, Americans have far from recovered from the “Great Recession.” The poverty rate is near an all-time high of 15 percent, among the worst in the 13 year records of the Center. The jobless rate is far too high as well.

In 1913, The Salvation Army was drawn to Miami because it was a boom town. However, The Army had learned from experience in helping other global cities that its ministry was needed in places like Miami, where it would soon be dealing with its own challenging social conditions. Little seems to have changed in nearly 102 years. Last year, The Salvation Army in Miami-Dade County served nearly 500,000 meals and sheltered over 12,000 people.

In addition to food and shelter services for children and families, veterans’ services, elderly, prison and rehabilitation programs, extensive preparedness services are always ready for unexpected disasters.

There are a myriad of social service agencies in South Florida making appeals for support at this time of the year. Three criteria are suggested for you to consider: 1) Select an agency that is both effective and efficient. 2) Select a method for personalized contributing, a one-time gift, monthly installments, gifting of appreciated assets or donating goods. 3) Consider giving of your time, even a few hours a month, to personally invest in your agency of choice.

So between now and Dec. 31, when you see or read heartwarming ads, receive mail solicitations or view electronic requests, consider pledging your time or gifts, no matter how large or small, to meet the year-round needs of the poor, hungry and hopeless of Miami-Dade County.

Major Fernando Martinez, Ph.D., is the Miami-area commander of the Salvation Army. salvation armymiami.org

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