Editorial: Giving back is the least we can do |

Editorial: Giving back is the least we can do

Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
The Barasch family presents a check for $18,000 to Tree of Life Victims and Congregations' Families Funds at the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill on Dec. 28, 2018.

We do what we can do.

It’s not always a lot. Sometimes, to each of us, it seems like very little.

We do not have time to volunteer, so we give money. We don’t have much money, so we give time. We see a collection tin at the counter of a store and give a dollar. We take our change and drop it in the red kettle outside the supermarket. We buy the Girl Scout cookies and Boy Scout popcorn and raffle tickets at the high school football game. We sign up for the United Way contribution.

For most of us, it is a little, but that little adds up. There are more than 13,000 charitable organizations operating in Pennsylvania.

But every now and then, there is something that moves us deeply. There is something that makes the giving more important.

For the Barasch family, it was the fact that their uncle was late for synagogue one morning. Judah Samet would have been a child when he survived the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, but he was 80 when he was late to temple and missed a gunman’s bullet.

His nephew, Larry, runs out of his Robinson home and after the October shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue, he began making the “Stronger than Hate” shirts that integrated a Star of David into the Pittsburgh Steelers logo.

Last week, he made good on a pledge to donate proceeds from those shirts with an $18,000 check that he said is just the first.

“This was our way of giving back,” he said.

We all have things that move us. It might be children or animals. It might be giving to a disease that hit close to home, or to our house of worship or an alma mater. We might give to veterans or the homeless or homeless veterans.

The important thing is that we keep giving — be it with time or money — and that we keep finding the things that move us to participate.

Why? Because it might be a little harder now.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made changes to how taxes are filed, and it could hit the way people can claim gifts to charity.

Not everybody thinks about what they get back when they give. Depending on what you give and how you filed, it might not have ended up making a difference anyway. But according to investment giant Charles Schwab, “estimates indicate that fewer than 10 percent of taxpayers” will continue to itemize their taxes, meaning about a 20 percent drop in the number of people who would break down what went to this church or this school or this charity.

Hopefully that won’t mean a comparative drop in giving. Hopefully it means that people will just not worry about the receipt and still write the check. Maybe it could even lead more people to give purely and joyfully with an open heart.

But hopefully we will all still remember those 13,000 or so charities trying to do good work, and like the Barasch family, we will remember that this quarter or this dollar or this hour of volunteered time is the way that we can give back.

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