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Businessman Tom Steyer and former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the two billionaires in the Democratic primary, have spent far more than the rest of the Democratic hopefuls combined. But Steyer also uses grassroots tactics. What do other candidates and voters think about the influence of money in elections?

Holiday Gifts for the Needy in Nevada and Around the World

December 4, 2006

Las Vegas, NV - December is not only the month to shop until you drop, it's also the biggest fundraising month for charitable organizations. Carole Miller with the Salvation Army in Washoe County says their Red Kettles are the most visible way her organization raises money for the needy, but they're busy doing a lot more than just ringing bells this time of year.

"Collecting toys, collecting food, collecting clothing; we have a senior angel tree with senior gifts for low-income seniors, and it all takes a huge community effort."

Miller says the Red Kettles raised $170,000 dollars in Washoe County last year, and they remain the Salvation Army's main source of funds. According to Miller, 5,000 families in the county needed a little extra help last Christmas.

"Most of them are two parent working families who just don't have money to cover the extras. When one little emergency comes along, like a broken-down car, they're strapped. They want to get their kids at least a toy or two to open for Christmas morning, and we do the best we can to try and help these families out."

If you want your holiday giving to assist relief efforts in places like Sudan and Afghanistan or hurricane-battered communities along the Gulf Coast, Mathew De Galan with Mercy Corps has an alternative: Giving a friend or family member a "Mercy Kit."

"Instead of buying someone another pair of gloves or a picture frame, Mercy Kits are a way to send something like nutritious food to children in Africa or provide money for a loan to help a woman start a small business in Afghanistan. These gifts do something really important long after the holiday season has passed."

"Mercy Kits" range in price from as little as $20 up to $1,000. The funds are used to help the humanitarian organization with its disaster relief efforts, as well as to aid microbusinesses and family farms in developing countries. More information is available online, at www.mercycorps.org/mercykits.

Michael Clifford/Eric Mack, Public News Service - NV