Giv­ing thanks for Amer­ica’s givers

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Michelle Malkin

Chan­dler Os­born, 14, watched Fox News cov­er­age of Hur­ri­cane Sandy and de­cided to take ac­tion.

“Me and my younger brother, Cooper, 7, did a fundraiser in Colorado Springs to help the peo­ple” af­fected by the storm, he told me.

The sib­lings set up a ta­ble at the Colorado Springs Sugar Plum Fes­ti­val, gave away pa­tri­otic car mag­nets and pins for any do­na­tions, and col­lected sig­na­tures on a gi­ant ban­ner of sup­port for the vic­tims.

“We raised $612 in one week­end.”

The Os­borns joined count­less Amer­i­cans across the coun­try who stepped up, in small and large ways, to help their fel­low ci­ti­zens in need. While this elec­tion sea­son was a con­tentious bat­tle be­tween mak­ers and tak­ers, this Thanks­giv­ing sea­son is a time to honor the givers who keep the na­tion’s pri­vate phil­an­thropic spirit alive.

In times of cri­sis, it’s in­di­vid­ual ci­ti­zens, churches, busi­nesses and char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tions — not fed­eral government bu­reau­crats — who mo­bi­lize first and fastest to pro­vide aid and com­fort.

Tom Lau­reys noted in the Par­sip­pany (New Jersey) Daily Record: “The first peo­ple to help Hur­ri­cane Sandy vic­tims were the neigh­bors help­ing their neigh­bors for free. The Red Cross was the first or­ga­ni­za­tion to ar­rive to help. FEMA was the last. The FEMA work­ers stayed at the Soho Grand Ho­tel at $310 per night.”

On Staten Is­land, a group of res­i­dents banded to­gether, bought their own walkie-talkies, and pro­vided the de­briscle­ar­ing and water-pump­ing ser­vices that no one else was pro­vid­ing.

“We’ve done more for our com­mu­nity than FEMA, the Red Cross and the Na­tional Guard com­bined, di­rectly hit­ting houses and peo­ple in need,” Frank Recce, a 24-yearold long­shore­man and Army Iraq War veteran who or­ga­nized the “Brown Cross” group, told FoxNews.com.

Here in Colorado Springs, the rag­ing Waldo Canyon wild­fire brought vol­un­teers of all po­lit­i­cal stripes to­gether to sup­port lo­cal first re­spon­ders and help nearly 350 dev­as­tated fam­i­lies who lost their homes.

By the time Pres­i­dent Obama ar­rived in Colorado nearly a full week af­ter the fire ig­nited, churches, busi­ness­men and civic groups had united to do­nate moun­tains of clothes, lend phones, shel­ter pets and open their homes to the dis­placed.

The out­pour­ing of com­pas­sion was so over­whelm­ing that vol­un­teers were turned away from shel­ters and cen­ters.

The left-lean­ing Colorado Springs In­de­pen­dent, con­ser­va­tive Fo­cus on the Fam­ily, Pikes Peak United Way, World Arena, the city’s phil­har­monic and oth­ers raised more than a half-mil­lion dol­lars dur­ing a com­mu­nity ben­e­fit con­cert for the Waldo Canyon Vic­tim As­sis­tance Fund.

One or­ga­ni­za­tion, Care and Share, col­lected nearly 73,000 pounds of food and water for the brave fire­fight­ers who bat­tled the blaze.

On top of that, Care and Share vol­un­teers dis­trib­uted more than 440,000 pounds of food and water to af­fected res­i­dents.

An amaz­ing sur­plus re­mains: The group has 332,593 pounds of food and $379,032 in do­na­tions re­main­ing to dis­trib­ute for the hol­i­days.

Ac­cord­ing to the Chron­i­cle of Phi­lan­thropy, Amer­ica’s top 50 donors gave a to­tal of $10.4 bil­lion in 2011.

But it’s the small, un­sung acts of ev­ery­day giv­ing and do­ing — like the Os­born brothers’ $612 or the Staten Is­land cit­i­zen bri­gade’s do-it-your­self vol­un­teerism — that add up.

In sum, Amer­i­cans contributed $136 bil­lion to char­i­ta­ble causes.

The me­dian dis­cre­tionary in­come of the Amer­i­can giver? $54,783.

God bless Amer­ica, the Char­i­ta­ble. Michelle Malkin is the au­thor of “Cul­ture of Cor­rup­tion: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies” (Reg­n­ery 2010).

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