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The lines at area food banks appear longer as the holidays get under way while the supply on the shelves seems to dwindle.

This year, like last, local charities that work to make a difference in the lives of those down on their luck — especially during the holidays — are experiencing their own hardship.

The number of people who need assistance continues to grow leaving many Arizonans and Verde Valley residents without jobs or money to pay for necessities. These people are then added to the number of individuals and families already seeking assistance.

Add winter and holiday needs to the equation — gifts for the children, heat for the home, food for traditional meals — and Sedona and Verde Valley charities find themselves scrambling to meet the demand placed upon them, which is no easy task.

While nonprofits saw a dip in contributions across the country, the good news is giving turned the corner and is again on the rise.

According to Giving USA’s 2010 numbers, an annual report on philanthropy by The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, individuals, corporations and foundations gave approximately $290.89 billion in 2010, more than $10 billion more than in 2009. In 2009, an estimated $280.30 billion went to nonprofits and charities.

The majority of charitable contributions continue to come from individuals. Despite hard economic times, individual giving rose by 2.7 percent making up $211.77 billion of the total donated in 2010.

Numbers from 2010 show the first increase since the recession. From 2007 to 2009, charitable giving dropped by 13 percent across the country.

While donation numbers are up, so is the need as the effects of unnemployment, the mortgage crisis and other financial plagues continue to ripple across the country.

People can feel overwhelmed thinking about giving to charity when they themselves have made cutbacks in their spending, but it’s important to remember someone out there can’t afford to put food on the table for their children, and a contribution — even if it’s small — can make a difference.

A couple of cans of vegetables will help feed someone who is hungry. A monetary donation will assist in paying for a humane society to keep animals alive long enough to be adopted.

If you can’t bring yourself to pick just one group, the Sedona Community Foundation is an option. The foundation, an affiliate of the Arizona Community Foundation, collects donations and distributes them to local nonprofits.

Whether its a toy for the Toys for Tots drive, food for a food bank or a check for the community foundation, give the gift of charity this holiday season regardless of the size of the package.


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