Our Opinion: Be an ‘Angel’ for neighbors in need on Giving Tuesday

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Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday comprise the unofficial retail holidays many Christmas shoppers are all too glad to celebrate. But there’s one more day that’s often overlooked in the din of chirping cash registers and rustle of shopping bags.

Giving Tuesday began in 2012 as a way to harness the holiday shopping rush for philanthropy. Started in New York City, the daylong donation drive has grown by leaps and bounds each year. Fundraising estimates topped out at $177 million in 2016 and $274 million in 2017.

Social media helped fuel the charity campaign, with #GivingTuesday a trending hashtag on Twitter and Facebook fundraisers collecting $45 million last year. If you log onto any social networking sites or even check your email — charities capitalize on the holiday by reminding folks to pitch in — you’ll see plenty of Giving Tuesday references today.

There are plenty of ways to participate, and we hope Wilsonians will open their hearts and wallets to worthy local nonprofits and fundraisers today. In particular, there’s one effort we’ll highlight that dovetails with Giving Tuesday: Our Salvation Army Christmas wish list.

The Salvation Army of Wilson collected wish lists from 451 children ages 12 and under along with 74 senior citizens for its yuletide Angel Tree program. Of those 525 lists, nearly 500 have been distributed to local businesses seeking to fulfill the Christmas wishes or added to the community tree at K&W Cafeteria near the former Wilson Mall.

“It has been a wonderful thing with so many answering the call to help others,” Jamilla Kirby, the Salvation Army’s director of social services, told reporter Brie Handgraaf for a front-page story in today’s edition of The Wilson Times. “All 525 angels should realize what a blessing it is that someone took the time to get presents or gift cards or whatever they asked for to ensure they have a wonderful Christmas.”

With Wilson businesses taking on the bulk of this year’s Angel Tree clients and K&W making many available to its customers, the list of Christmas wishes in The Wilson Times is a lot shorter than in years past. Today, the first day of the season that the list is published, we’re featuring 14 Wilson-area children in need of some Christmas cheer.

The requests are humbling for many of us accustomed to packing expensive electronics and gizmos beneath our family trees’ branches. Clothing and shoes — not luxury brands or the latest styles, mind you, just functional basics — are included on each Angel Tree wish.

One 8-year-old boy asked for a fishing pole and a bicycle. A 3-year-old girl and a 10-year-old girl want art kits so they can exercise their creativity. The parents of a 3-year-old boy are requesting educational toys for their young learner.

Several kids asked for tablets, the touch-screen computers that were once a novelty but are now ubiquitous, as many schools use them for interactive lessons and homework. They’re also great for playing age-appropriate computer games. The price of tablet computers has plummeted in recent years, with many models available for under $100.

As we celebrate the season of giving, we ask Wilson County families to consider adopting one of these Angel Tree clients and making a child’s Christmas wishes come true. We’ll continue publishing the list until all wishes have been granted and will remove numbers from the list as community members step forward to “adopt” them.

Giving Tuesday provides an excellent opportunity to pluck a name off the Angel Tree, whether you adopt one of the children whose list is printed here, claim a client through your business or take one of the lists off the K&W Cafeteria Christmas tree.

It’s also a great time to make a contribution to the local charity of your choice. Giving Tuesday falls toward the end of the year for a reason — donations to registered 501(c)(3) nonprofits made before Dec. 31 can be deducted from your 2018 taxes.

If you’re not sure where your charitable dollars would be best used, visit the local United Way website at www.unitedwayofwilson.org, mouse over “About Us” and click on “Partner Agencies.” There you’ll see a list of United Way agencies and a description of their mission and focus.

Christmas is truly the season of giving as we shop to surprise and delight our loved ones, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Let’s make sure to include Wilson County’s less fortunate on our shopping lists this year.