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'Tis the Season for Giving, to Ohio and the World

December 19, 2006

Columbus, OH - The holiday season is traditionally the biggest time of year for charitable giving, and nonprofit experts say there are lots of worthy causes, both around the world and in Ohio.

Matthew de Galan of international relief group Mercy Corps says making a contribution in someone's name or allowing them to provide direct aid themselves can be a very meaningful holiday gift.

"You're giving something that's really, really important: A way to build a better world. By doing that, you're helping bring changes to some of the poorest people in the world."

Some charitable groups are embracing the idea of donations as holiday presents; De Galan says his group offers a "Mercy Kit" gift package for the holidays. The money can be earmarked for relief efforts in places like Sudan and Afghanistan, as well as for hurricane-hit communities along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

De Galan says Mercy Kit sales online have increased every year as people search for gifts for people who have everything, or those who say they want nothing. They range in price from as little as $20 up to $1,000. For more information, see their web site at www.mercycorps.org.

Experts say there's also a new way to make charitable donations and get a boost at tax time. According to George Espy, head of the Ohio Grantmakers Forum, a new federal law lets people make donations from their retirement accounts.

"People who want to support local nonprofit organizations or make donations to charity can do so from their IRAs and not pay federal income tax on that portion, up to $100,000."

Espy says community funds and charities around the state have seen a big surge in donations from retirement accounts thanks to the new law, which expires at the end of next year.

Rob Ferrett/Eric Mack, Public News Service - OH