Despite economic hardships, charitable donations increase
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Despite many people having to cut back and watch their wallets this holiday season, many charities actually saw an increase in donations. For some, it was the best year ever. The Salvation Army division that covers our five surrounding counties was one of them. They hoped to get $175,000, but the Kettle Campaign and other efforts netted more than $230,000. New Hanover County's Toys for Tots program also had one of the best years ever; they doubled the amount of toys donated from last year to $13,000. Toys for Tots coordinator John Dunn said, "Americans and Wilmingtonians in particular know that we're in tough times and I believe they made a conscious effort to meet the demand because the need was greater this year." Dunn said people didn't donate as much this year, but that more people actually reached into their pockets to donate. The season of giving is by no means over. This week leading into the New Year will be the busiest week for Goodwill donations. Hundreds of people are expected to donate items to Goodwill, and places like it, to make space for new items and save a little money. Mother of five, Ladona Cummings, shops at Goodwill for necessities like clothes and shoes. “My husband just got laid off and you still have to pay unemployment and you still have the end of year taxes on your house and property and vehicles." She knows many others are feeling the pinch too, so she also tries to donate when we can. She added, "I think now is the best time to donated besides the tax write off everybody's hurting the people that donate are now the people coming in to buy stuff." Goodwill managers expect around 100 people to donate items on New Year’s Eve alone at the Carolina Beach Road location. Why that date? Those people will be in time to get a tax break for 2008. DJ Struntz said, “The write-off is always a nice way and it's definitely better than standing in a yard sale for eight hours to sale stuff." If you do donate make sure the clothes are clean and items are in good condition. Also only donate during store hours that way you get your tax receipt. For donations, 92 cents of every dollar made goes towards Goodwill programs; the other eight cents goes for operating expenses. Free Goodwill programs range from computer and literacy classes to those that help disabled teens and adults learn life skills. If you plan to donate on New Year's Eve, be prepared to wait, as it is the busiest day of the year.

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