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Chances open for year-end donations

T-L Photo/ROBERT A. DEFRANK Bunnie Blon of Bellaire volunteers to do cooking and food distribution at the Salvation Army in Bellaire.

2022 HAS come and gone, but for those wishing to help the less fortunate there are still many year-end opportunities to give to charitable causes.

“Charitable giving any time of the year is, of course, a good thing,” Susie Nelson, executive director of the Wheeling-based Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley, said. “Nonprofit organizations are in need of year-end gifts. … People do like to make a lot of year-end gifts to benefit from the tax advantages.”

In addition to the funds her foundation manages, Nelson also recommended giving to the United Way, since it serves a large number of organizations.

“If you’re not sure what organization you want to give to, the United Way is always a good one,” she said. “If you’re interested in a specific area, if you’re interested in helping children in need or hunger relief or the homeless or domestic violence, obviously there are very specific organizations. … The United Way or anyone at the community foundation could guide donors.”

She added that donations this year were comparable to 2021.

“The Ohio Valley community is very generous … even in a down economy,” she said, adding the foundation is seeing fewer gifts of appreciated stock, since the market has been down for much of 2022. “Gifts of cash are steady.”

The foundation also works with charitable oil and gas companies.

“That we still see as a solid source of charitable giving in the region,” she said, adding that the need is great. “The homeless situation in the Wheeling area and beyond is not going to be a problem that’s fixed overnight. That, in addition to food insecurity and any really poverty-related causes are really on the rise.”

She said food insecurity is a significant problem, and organizations such as the Soup Kitchen of Greater Wheeling and The House of the Carpenter are working to fill that gap.

“More people are hungry than the average person realizes,” she said.

Nelson said there is also distress among many who are just above the poverty line, working but unable to make ends meet due to inflation and other economic blows.

“We do fund organizations that help those people, like Wheeling Health Right,” Nelson said.

The foundation can be reached at 304-242-3144

Holly Shelton, vice president of the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio with affiliate foundations in Harrison and Monroe counties, said there is still time to donate.

“We have over 600 funds,” Shelton said, adding these span all 32 counties of Appalachian Ohio. “They can give online literally up until Dec. 31 for it to count towards a 2022 charitable donation, or as long as the check is postmarked by Dec. 31.”

Shelton said the need is high across the region.

“In Appalachian Ohio, the philanthropy gap is actually 90 percent access to fewer philanthropic resources compared to the rest of Ohio, ” Shelton said.

Like Nelson, she also said food insecurity is a major issue and that gifts to local food banks and food pantries have an impact.

“Our website has a list of the various funds that donors can choose from if they want to do online giving or with our different events we try and highlight,” Shelton said.

She also recommended other sites such as GuideStar or Charity Navigator.

The organization expanded the Fill the Freezer program this year, partnering with local county fairs, food pantries and 4-H members. People who purchase hogs at the fairs donate them, and the foundation helps cover the cost of processing fresh meat for area pantries.

“Financial insecurity is probably the biggest issue plaguing our community. That’s year-round, but especially around the holidays,” Jessica Rine, executive director of the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley, said. “If people are looking to do any type of year-end giving, supporting the organizations that are near and dear to their hearts are obviously the first place to start, but the United Way is a good place to donate for those who are looking to help the vulnerable population in our community.”

One resource is the 211 helpline that can be used anywhere in Belmont County or West Virginia to speak to a United Way representative. Rine said the majority of calls received are for rental and utility assistance during the cold winter months — and they are coming at higher numbers than seen prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“One of the trends we see in this community are grandparents raising their grandchildren,” Rine said, adding that many nonprofits support these families.

The United Way can be reached at 304-232-4625

Another option to benefit the area is through Give Belmont County. Lova Ebbert of Ebbert Farm and a member of the organization, said donors will have their donations doubled by a partner energy company.

She explained that several years ago, landowners who signed leases with the former Rice Energy — now EQT — also set up the Belmont County Enrichment Fund, a tool for “encouraging people to give back.”

“From 2013 to today, we have given more than a half-million dollars back to charities and nonprofits in Belmont County. What makes our group so unique is that every dollar that people donate has to be used in Belmont County,” Ebbert said, adding that fire departments, food pantries, domestic shelters and other nonprofits have applied for grants.

“A letter went out from EQT to all of the people getting royalties in Belmont County,” she said. “Any donation between $100 and $10,000, EQT will match, which is phenomenal. Or landowners, if they want to, can give 1 percent of their royalties. … There’s many options. The really wonderful thing is EQT will match that for the first year. … The gifts are tax-deductible, and it has to be used for the good of Belmont County.”

She said landowners interested in donating can call Ebbert Farm at 740-695-5619 or contact the Community Foundation of the Upper Ohio Valley, which manages the fund.

And while it is located in Columbus, people who want to donate can support Nationwide Children’s Hospital, which treats many local youngsters when they are diagnosed with serious illnesses, such as cancer. Currently, its “Light Up the Lawn, Light Up a Life” campaign is underway.

“Through Dec. 31, the lawn in front of Nationwide Children’s has been transformed with a butterfly-themed light display that is powered by generosity — lighting up in real time each time a donation of $10 or more is made. The display is visible to pediatric patients and their families in the hospital tower as they look out at the lawn below, creating a joyful, impactful experience during the holiday season,” public relations specialist Ally Williams wrote in an email. “Every donation matters and supports everything from art therapy and family support services to life-saving research and clinical care.”

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