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Generosity abounds even in tough times like these

Published on: April 23, 2020

LOOSE ENDS

One day last week, I opened Facebook to find a post from my friend Janice Bayruns, happily reporting she had received her $1,200 stimulus payment from Uncle Sam.

“As of now, I am incredibly blessed and grateful beyond words to have a healthcare business in operation and to be able to keep my wonderful staff employed,” said the owner of FirstLight Home Care of Southern Hillsborough and Manatee County. “Therefore, I wish to donate my stimulus check to one or two of the organizations supporting some of the hard-hit industries, such as art, hospitality, beauty or perhaps one I don’t even know (of).”

Now, this may seem a surprising act of generosity to some folks but not to those of us who know Janice. She’s one of the kindest, most loving souls I know, and she has always had a community-minded heart.

After oodles of recommendations, Janice eventually selected Seeds of Hope Food Pantry, which serves southeastern Hillsborough County, and Another Round, Another Rally, an organization supporting workers in the hospitality industry. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both nonprofit organizations have recently seen a dramatic increase in the number of people they serve.

Janice’s post actually gave me the idea for this column.

While most of us could not afford to match Janice’s generosity, many of us can still find a few bucks here or there to support those who are more in need right now.

Consider this. Even if 20 people gave a donation of, let’s say, $20 to a nonprofit group like the Community Cupboard in Ruskin, Mary Petro Fund in Sun City Center or the Emergency Care Health Organization (ECHO) in Riverview, that would mean a much-needed boost of $400. Forty people giving $10 would have the same impact.

“Plug in to where your passion is,” said Tanya Doran, executive director of the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce. “There are a lot of great charities in our community, and they need our help more than ever.”

And here’s some good news for folks who can do more.

JANICE BAYRUNS

The recent Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act provides an incentive for charitable giving of up to $300 per year as an “above the line deduction” on your 2020 tax return and beyond. This applies to anyone, whether or not you itemize your deductions.

The donation must be cash, and the money must go to 501(c)3 charities, not private foundations or donor-advised funds.

So if you’d like to support organizations helping local American heroes and their families, like My Warrior’s Place, American Legion, the VFW or the Military Family Support Trust; Kiwanis, Lions or Rotary service organizations; a visual and performing arts venue like the Firehouse Cultural Center; or any of a number of our local worthy charities, including the Faces of Courage, Mary & Martha House, Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center or Ruskin Community Development Foundation ­— here’s your chance.

Even the Critter Adoption and Rescue Effort no-kill shelter in Ruskin, Feline Folks in Sun City Center or the Kittie Corral in Wimauma could use an infusion of cash donations to continue caring for the cats, kittens, dogs and puppies currently under their care.

These are longstanding, reputable organizations that primarily rely on individual donations to do their work, and their missions directly impact the community in significant ways. And some that have no payroll (100 percent volunteer) cannot qualify for stimulus funding.

Next week I’ll be writing about ways we can support our local businesses, whether or not they are open.

We’re in this together, folks, and we’ll get through it by helping each other wherever and whenever we can.

Stay safe out there.

Lois Kindle is a freelance writer and columnist for The Observer News. Contact her at lois@observernews.net.

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