By Norris Burkes, April 24 2020

Fred Rogers, AKA, “Mr. Rogers,” often quoted his mother’s advice he received during his childhood about scary events on the news.

“‘Look for the helpers,” she said. “You will always find people who are helping.”

Today, the news couldn’t be scarier because those helpers are in trouble.

Thankfully, some of us are in a position to assist. We are the retired or those remaining in full-time work. This means our government stimulus check is likely lying on the credenza or in our bank.

“Uh-oh,” you say, “the chaplain is gonna pass the hat.”

Maybe, but I prefer to think that I can assuage the guilt we share. Yes, I actually feel some guilt about cashing the check. Our income hasn’t changed, and since we can’t travel or dine out, our accounts have grown.

Jesus said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded….” That simply means that if we are blessed with talents, wealth and knowledge, then we are expected to benefit others.

If you’re wondering how to benefit others with that stimulus check you may not need, allow me to suggest four donation tiers.

The first place to donate is to family and friends. Consider helping an out-of-work child pay her utility bill. Or help your unemployed neighbor with a Costco run.

The next tier of donations might involve increasing your local contributions to the essential front-line social services like food banks and homeless shelters. This is where the majority of my check will go.

Use the Internet to find a local charity. In my community, we are having Big Giving Day on May 7 that will benefit 615 nonprofits. My favorite is Running for Rhett who inspired me to run marathons and pulled my grandsons off the couch.

The third tier involves finding reputable worldwide charities on the Internet using the Charity Navigator. On this site, you’ll be heartened to discover that Save the Children is still doing stellar work. Matthew 25 Ministries is busy responding to Tennessee tornadoes as well as Appalachian hunger. The list is deep and wide but find one – now.

Finally, consider putting aside 25% of your check to give to charities that may be in danger of extinction. These are nonprofits that aren’t doing the headline-grabbing work of directly combating the COVID-19 crisis. Yet they still need our help. These are the churches, women’s shelters and animal-rescue organizations.

Two charities that have my attention are the Chispa Project and my employer, Hospice of the Foothills. Like many hospice organizations, they are funded by thrift shops. With those shops shut down, their budget is greatly suffering. (Habitat for Humanity is hurting for similar reasons.)

Also at risk is the Chispa Project that my daughter Sara founded to establish libraries in Honduras. Like many small charities, Chispa is appealing for emergency help with payroll, rent and the car payment for the vehicle used to transport books.

Because of the quarantine, Sara and her Honduran employees are unable to, conduct teacher training, transport books and establish libraries. Employees must hibernate with at-home work, hoping to make it long enough to finish their school libraries once schools open again.

So for now, I will send my remaining dollars to stimulate the – but I’m a bit partial to the founder.

Write me at [email protected] and tell me where you gave or where you see the need.

Charity websites mentioned:
Mathew 25 Ministries
Hospice of Foothills
Chispa Project.
Save the Children
Running for Rhett
Big Day of Giving

Send checks for “Chispa Project” to 10566 Combie Rd. Suite 6643 Auburn, CA 95602. Email me for more charity info at [email protected] or leave a voicemail at (843) 608-9715.