Stocking Stuffers and Black Friday

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Contrary to what you’ve heard, Black Friday is not a religious holiday.

My daughter, who knows about these things, tells me it is named in honor of girls with black belts in shopping. For the rest of us, that could mean we’re still stymied over what gifts we can get for the people on our lists who have everything.

Here’s one suggestion: Instead of baskets of fruit or bottles of fancy liquor, select a good charity and make a donation in the name of he or she who has everything.

If that person is a family member, your church or temple can be the charity of choice. But if you’re giving to friends or clients and want something nonsectarian, there are plenty of great alternatives out there.

Last year I mentioned three local organizations that deal with battered women or abused children. Years ago, my company spent a weekend painting the Florence Crittenton Home for abused children, in Fullerton, and I have been sending them a check this time of year ever since. A lot of you probably support Laura’s House or the Orangewood Children’s Foundation for the same reasons.

Another local group worth mentioning is Share Our Selves, or SOS. Groups like SOS often appeal to us to help provide homeless or disadvantaged families with nice, hot meals at Thanksgiving or Christmas, but the need continues all year long, even in normal times. SOS offers other services as well.

If you are looking for good causes right here in town, there are Hoag Hospital and the Newport-Mesa schools. And don’t forget to check with your employers to see if they offer matching grants to donations made by employees to hospitals or schools.

There are, of course, national organizations such as United Way, or the Salvation Army with its iconic bell ringers. I started giving to the United Way 40 years ago, back in Minnesota. But there are local chapters, so your contributions will go to work right here in Orange County. As I said last year, I wouldn’t want you to think you were inadvertently providing holiday lutefisk to a bunch of Swedes in Minnesota, however needy they might be.

There isn’t room to list all the worthy organization that need help right now. The victims of hurricane Sandy need help and that could mean the Red Cross.

You can find addresses for these and others on the Web, and you won’t even have to drive to the mall to complete your holiday shopping.


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