Deciding Where To Make Donations

Jerry Coffee
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Wednesday - December 28, 2005
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Wow! How can it be the close-out week of 2005 already? How can anyone over 50 explain to anyone under 50 this distressing phenomenon of time speeding up as one gets older?

But because the time seems to pass faster, I’m determined to be more efficient by sharpening my focus on my charitable giving in 2006. Instead of my usual “reactive” response (or not) to solicitations that come in the mail, I’m going to be “proactive” - choose ahead of time based upon my own values and priorities.

My first priority is God’s work: supporting our church, its ministry, educational programs and missions, and expansion to accommodate our rapidly growing congregation. Also God’s work was my wife Susan’s trip to Africa last July to plant “never-ending gardens” to help the poor of Swaziland grow their own immune-building vegetables which help stave off both starvation and AIDS. We’ve pledged the time and resources to organize and lead another trip next July. Come join us!

Since America is a nation at war, my second priority is helping organizations which directly support our troops by building their morale. Soldiers’ Angels ( sends care packages to our military men and women wherever they are defending our country and our freedoms. They also provide transition packages to the wounded soldiers and Marines recovering in hospitals. Their web site leads to more details and many similar organizations.

Locally, the United Services Organization ( provides lounges, facilities, and assistance for military members and families traveling through Honolulu airport and the Hickam Passenger Terminal. Of course, the traveling USO shows with celebrities and entertainers are legendary in their morale-boosting effect upon our troops wherever they serve. The USO web site also features many related programs.

In Hawaii, the Navy League ( boasts the largest chapter in the country and is dedicated to supporting the men and women of the Sea Services - Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard - and their families. There are similar organizations dedicated to the Army and Air Force here in Hawaii as well.

To “support our troops” means to help them win, and if we can’t do that by fighting shoulder to shoulder with them we can certainly do it by keeping their morale high. And nothing does that better than backing organizations that give their families the support and appreciation they deserve here on the home front.

For on-the-scene disaster relief, my choice is the Salvation Army ( They are always on the spot, especially in the wreckage of the South Asian tsunami, the earthquakes in Pakistan and Iran, and, of course, Katrina. The Salvation Army has one of the lowest expenditures for administrative costs, and the highest for actual programs and relief. And the Honolulu organization enjoys the lowest rate of recidivism of any other local drug and alcohol rehab program.

To support the youth of our community, I choose the Aloha Council of the Boy Scouts of America ( If every young American lived by the Boy Scout Oath and 12 Scout Laws, there would soon be no crime, no addiction, no homelessness and no “drop outs.” Ironically, the ACLU continues to harass the Scouts by blackmailing corporations, municipalities and even the DOD into not supporting them because of their ban on homosexual leadership - a ban already ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court, but still costly in legal fees.

To fulfill my financial responsibility to the environment, I support the Hawaii chapter of the Nature Conservancy ( -click “United States” then “Hawaii”). The Nature Conservancy doesn’t “rabble rouse,” demonstrate or sue people, it simply buys or swaps for the land it wants to preserve, and very successfully at that. There are several major preserves here in Hawaii thanks to the conservancy.

Having said all this, I’m also cognizant - as we all should be - of the “charitable” work done by our state, federal and property tax dollars in the myriad “safety net” agencies, programs and grants that support the needy. But, of course, they’re not deductible!

It’s been said that “charity begins at home.” I’m taking that literally by first supporting the local chapters of national organizations, and the military men and women from locally deployed units. After all, this is our extended ohana.

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