Give gifts that save the day

The Red Cross kicked off its 2010 holiday giving effort as a new national survey shows that despite the economic downturn, people remain committed to digging deep into their pockets to support charitable causes this holiday season even as they cut back more on other holiday activities.

Nearly three in four people expect to give more or about the same to charity as they did last year, according to the national survey for the American Red Cross, which was conducted October 21-24.

This commitment to support charities during the holiday season occurs even as 86 percent of Americans reported their personal finances are the same or worse than they were last year.

The Red Cross survey shows seven in 10 people are planning to reduce spending for at least one common holiday expense.

More than four in 10 plan to reduce spending on travel and decorations, and more than a third will make cuts in entertaining and gifts for friends and family.

By comparison, only about one of five are planning to reduce their charitable contributions compared to last year.

About a third say they are not planning charitable donations over the holidays, with half of them saying they just don’t have the money to donate.

But nearly six in 10 say that because the economy is in bad shape, it is more important this year to give to charity.

The Shelby County American Red Cross recently launched its holiday giving campaign, urging residents to make a gift that could save the day for someone in need.

The Red Cross campaign features a holiday giving catalog, Redcross.org/gifts.

The gift catalog has more than 20 gift ideas — such as assisting someone in the military with a phone card or supplies, providing food and shelter to a disaster victim, covering the costs of snacks at a blood drive, or giving basic necessities to a family in another country.

The purchase of each gift item is a tax-deductible contribution to the overall mission of the American Red Cross.

On the rare occasion when donations exceed the need in a particular area, we will use your contribution to help others where the need is greatest.

Mary Kinard is the executive director for the Shelby/Bibb Red Cross.