Entering the giving season

Did anyone else wait until Nov. 1 to turn on the heat? I did — but just barely. With the way that wind whipped in last week, I very much considered staying up till midnight and turning on the heat the second Nov. 1 arrived. I didn’t. I got out an extra blanket and dealt with it. (Although you’d better believe that heat is on now.)

Now we’ve turned the clocks back, too. Evenings will get dark earlier, the air conditioners are out of the windows (OK, I’ve still got one left. But hey, that one involves a screwdriver ), high school football is headed into its last week before the playoffs … fall is in full swing and winter is on its way.

We are headed into the time of year when need for food, proper clothing and shelter becomes greater for some folks — but we are also headed into “the giving season.”

It’s a good time to think about what you might be able to do for those around us who are struggling — who aren’t able to just flip on the heat when they want to, or make a big pot of hearty soup to warm them up through the weekend. And, by the way, that doesn’t always mean just opening up the wallet.

It seems there is a program available to help fill just about every need. Warm coats for children, nonperishable food bags for shut-ins, clothing and home items at thrift stores, baby items, food pantries, soup kitchens, toys and other gifts for the holidays … if you want to help, there is an organization in the Mid-Ohio Valley that can make it happen.

But, again, that’s not always just a matter of handing over some cash. Some of them need volunteers. Some of them need donated items. Some of them need an even greater commitment (foster parents, for example — it’s not a bad time of year to start thinking about whether that is something you are willing and able to do).

Plan now. Soon enough there will be spending and scheduling associated with Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s — and you’ll be better able to provide the help you intend if you budget and make it part of your calendar now.

Oh, and do your research. Be smart about your giving, if you do decide a monetary donation is the best way to go.

Check on whether the organization to which you decide to give is a legitimate nonprofit — not another scam artist looking to rip you off. It is a shame there enough such people that we had an entire International Fraud Awareness Week last month, but it’s true.

But also check on how much of your donated money actually goes toward helping others, as opposed to funding exhorbitant salaries for executives; or how much of what you give stays local, if that is your wish. While it may seem as though it shouldn’t require so much homework to do a good thing, it is worth the time.

Think about it now, ladies and gentlemen. The bustle of the holidays will be upon us before we know it.

Christina Myer is executive editor of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. She can be reached via e-mail at cmyer@newsandsentinel.com