CHARLESTON, W.Va. – I’d like to take a moment to encourage all West Virginians to embrace the holiday spirit by giving something back to their communities. Whether you volunteer your precious time by serving Christmas dinner at a local food kitchen or you donate a toy to a child in need, these contributions, large and small, are what forge the spirit of the holidays.
Christmas truly is about giving, much more than it is about receiving, and none have given more than our men and women in uniform. For this reason, many patriotic West Virginians choose to direct their holiday donations toward various veterans groups. It is common, this time of year, to see a veteran sitting in the cold outside your local shopping center, collecting money for his or her less fortunate fellow service members. These volunteers should be acknowledged as the heroes that they are, for they have dedicated entire lifetimes to serving others. Likewise, every man, woman and child who drops a penny in the donation bucket deserves the utmost thanks for supporting those who have long supported us.
Sadly, however, not all solicitors are who they appear to be, nor are all nonprofit organizations created equally. While the majority are committed to supporting our veterans and bringing holiday cheer to the lives of those in need, others could be taking advantage of your generosity. For this reason, I hope that you will be vigilant in determining which philanthropies you will give to during this holiday season.
The Federal Trade Commission’s website, www.consumer.fts.gov
, offers a number of precautions you can take to ensure an organization is legitimate. Their checklist includes actions such as: asking for detailed information about the charity, calling the charity headquarters to ensure they are aware of the solicitation, and contacting the Better Business Bureau. Those who believe they’ve encountered a scam should report the incident to the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office.
By following some of these simple steps, you can feel confident that your holiday gift will impact the life of a veteran or a person in need and that you are helping to safeguard the holiday spirit of giving. Please remember the less fortunate this year, as well as those who have served.