Friends and family gathered together; a tasty home-cooked meal; wide-eyed children unwrapping gifts. ‘Tis the season and the way we’d all like to celebrate.
But for thousands across southeast Louisiana their holidays are neither merry nor bright. They have no permanent shelter; they go to bed hungry; and they can’t afford presents. Let’s take a moment this holiday season to reflect on our good fortunes and remember those who are struggling.
Thousands of residents are trying to recover and rebuild from the historic flooding this year.
Thousands more – 42% of our Southeast Louisiana population—struggle every day just to meet basic needs. 19% live in poverty. 23% are ‘ALICE’—an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, employed. They are hard-working, tax-paying people living paycheck to paycheck who are just one harsh storm, one medical emergency or one car repair away from falling into poverty.
No matter where you live in Louisiana, you can affect the life of someone next door, down the bayou or across the lake. You can invest in programs that will help neighbors in need--programs for our children to our grandparents, that can help make Southeast Louisiana a safer, better place to live, work and raise our families.
Charitable giving is critically important in assisting local communities to meet local needs. We are now in what is often called the Giving Season for charities or nonprofit organizations. The closer we get to the holidays and year’s end, the more people feel encouraged to give and frequently, they give more generously than throughout the rest of the year.
While charitable giving is a cherished tradition, donors need to make sure their charity of choice is a recognized, well-run, stable, financially accountable organization that is responsible for meeting goals and is an overall good steward of donors’ dollars.
Spend some time researching before you give. By finding out as much as you can about the charity, you can avoid fraudsters who try to take advantage of your generosity. The Federal Trade Commission says to avoid any charity or fundraiser that:
Refuses to provide detailed information about its identity, mission, costs, and how the donation will be used.
Won't provide proof that a contribution is tax deductible.
Uses a name that closely resembles that of a better-known, reputable organization.
Thanks you for a pledge you don’t remember making.
Uses high-pressure tactics like trying to get you to donate immediately, without giving you time to think about it and do your research.
Asks for donations in cash or asks you to wire money.
Offers to send a courier or overnight delivery service to collect the donation immediately.
In Southeast Louisiana we celebrate being part of a culture that unites to help those less fortunate.
Whether you’re giving a monetary donation, advocating on behalf of issues you care about, or volunteering your time, United Way and the respected nonprofits of our region are grateful for the lives you’re helping us change and the communities you’re helping us shape.
Best wishes for a safe and joyous holiday season.
Michael L. Williamson
President & Chief Executive Officer
United Way of Southeast Louisiana