The Joy of Philanthropy: Give With Your Children

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In the season of giving, we often feel a tug to help our neighbors most in need by pitching in at a soup kitchen or donating toys so that local children can have a happy holiday. This is the perfect opportunity to involve your children and help them learn about the importance of giving back.

Amy Maciariello, director of resource innovation at Trident United Way, has a lot of experience with holiday helping.

"I used to work with children at an emergency shelter, and we received so many toys during the holidays that I didn't know what to do with them all. While holiday help is critical, consider birthdays, or even better, a financial donation so that the organization can help these kids in the right way at the right time," she says. "Similarly, at Trident United Way, it is a financial investment that is the best help for our local neighbors during the holidays and all year long."

One way that Trident United Way uses financial resources is to support 2-1-1 Helpline.

"The 2-1-1 Helpline is a free, confidential referral and information service that connects people from all communities and of all ages to a resource specialist who will help them find local health and human services, 24/7," says Cathy Easley, director of integrated community systems. "An information and referral specialist will assess callers' needs and help the caller determine their options and the best course of action in a non-threatening, non-judgmental and confidential manner."

Trident United Way also provides two Prosperity Centers, located in Berkeley and Dorchester counties. Prosperity Centers are one-stop shops that provide services that can propel individuals and families toward financial stability by providing career readiness workshops, budgeting classes, computer literacy classes and more.

"The pathway to success in a Prosperity Center always begins with a conversation," says Shakelia LeBlanc, Prosperity Center coordinator. "It's not usually a one-time fix. People often need to come back, and we'll continue to help them along their journey until they get to where they can be stable."

Nonprofits and charitable organizations also find their staff stretched thin with handling overwhelming item drop-offs, coordinating multiple volunteer projects and maintaining day-to-day operations. Often what charities need is your dollars, and there are simple ways to make giving a part of your family's holiday season.

Once you've determined how your family can make the most impact, teach your children key philanthropy facts: A charitable gift must be made by Dec. 31 to qualify for a tax deduction in this calendar year, making it a great time to make a financial decision.

Ways to involve your family in philanthropy this holiday season:

Countdown to Christmas: Read inspiring success stories to learn how our local community members have been helped by Trident United Way and its programs. Begin the countdown to Christmas by reading one of the 23 stories each day with your children and talking about the importance of helping our neighbors.

A family fundraiser: Help your kids set up a hot chocolate stand, have a yard sale to make room for new holiday toys, or host a party where the hostess gift is a small donation to Trident United Way.

Give online: Show your kids how to make an online donation at TUW.org/give, and perhaps make it in honor of your family's 2017 holiday celebration.

AmazonSmile: It's likely you'll do some holiday shopping on Amazon so why not let your shopping benefit Trident United Way? Go to smile.amazon.com and choose Trident United Way as your charity. AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible purchases to Trident United Way.

Host a food drive: If charitable giving isn't in the budget this year, help host a food drive. Canned goods are needed year-round, and you can connect with a local food pantry to make a food drop-off.

The Tri-County is made of many communities that care, and families can continue to make it better by teaching the next generation to do the same.

For more information about Trident United Way or how you can practice the joy of giving this holiday season, visit TUW.org or call 843-740-9000.