Giving is a bright, shining gift in itself

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

If this holiday season is all about light, we are the points of illumination. There is no better time of year than this one to reach out and help a neighbor or a community.

For nearly 30 years, The Sacramento Bee’s Book of Dreams has helped people and organizations in our community realize their dreams. Their needs can be as simple as cribs for babies, healthy food for cancer patients, or kennels to house dogs being trained to assist veterans. Whatever the dream, you can help by making a donation.

All donations are tax-deductible, and none of the money received will be used for administrative costs. The Book of Dreams fund is administered by the Sacramento Region Community Foundation. If you donate online, the Region Foundation will appear on your statement.

If you have additional questions, please call the Book of Dreams line at 916-556-5667.

Or, you can explore the region’s many other worthy causes. Ratings sites such as Charity Navigator (charitynavigator.org) and the American Institute of Philanthropy’s Charity Watch (charitywatch.org) offer invaluable lists and ratings, and are good places to start.

Sacramento Loaves & Fishes, the Greater Sacramento chapter of Habitat for Humanity and the Sacramento Zoo all get top scores from Charity Navigator, for instance. So does WEAVE, the nonprofit aiding domestic violence and sexual assault victims, the animal rescue group Red Rover, and the California Waterfowl Association in Roseville.

Several local nonprofit health centers and clinics – places that will rise in importance as the incoming Congress and president end the Affordable Care Act – are not big enough for Charity Navigator ratings, but have been supported over the years by highly regarded national humanitarian groups such as Santa Barbara-based Direct Relief.

Health For All, the Hmong Health Alliance, the Clinica Tepati, the nurse-practitioner-staffed Clara’s House and the needle exchange group, Harm Reduction Services, all do very good work. So do the local chapters of Planned Parenthood, which have for generations provided free and low-cost contraception and health care to poor and uninsured women, and which the Republican-dominated Congress wants to defund.

Or, you can be a friend to abused and neglected children. Think about places like Sacramento County’s Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). Even a gift to your local PTA or school foundation can make a difference.

If you like science, UC Davis has a superb giving portal, enabling donors to support research from climate science to violence prevention. If you care about civil rights, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California could use your money. There isn’t an arts organization in Sacramento that hasn’t been starved since the recession.

Then there are churches. And food banks. And environmental organizations. Even a seemingly modest holiday gesture will light up a life. Give a gift, this holiday season, to your neighbors, your community – and yourself.

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