2020 has been a tough year for everyone. People have lost loved ones, jobs and a sense of “normal.” With everything happening in our country - hurricanes, wild fires, racial tension, civil disruption, political divides - it is easy to focus on the negative. But we must also focus on what brings us together... our humanity. Now, more than ever, we need to be looking out for each other.

For charities, this year has been particularly difficult. Fundraising activities that allow them to provide services to their communities have been canceled. At a time when more and more people need help, charitable organizations have fewer donations and less opportunities to raise funds.

According to the Association of Fundraising Professionals, more than half of the charitable organizations responding said they expected to receive fewer donations in 2020 than they did in 2019, and they expect that to continue into 2021.

Locally, several organizations canceled fundraisers or moved to online events, which typically don’t raise as much as in person events.

There are still ways to support them, however.

Cullman Caring for Kids will happily accept monetary donations or canned or dry goods. They will even take canned food beyond the expiration date as long as the cans have not been damaged.

Likewise, there are many food pantries around the county that could benefit from donations.

United Way of Cullman County is hosting the annual Day of Caring on Sept. 15. Small groups can donate time and skills on projects to help the community or lend their hands to helping raise money for local charities.

Another organization to consider is the Cullman Regional Medical Center Foundation. What better way to show appreciation for those on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic than to make a donation in honor of a caregiver? You could also donate in memory or honor of an individual or ear-mark the donation to a specific fund.

Even if you don’t have the ability to provide monetary donations, there are other ways of giving. Consider giving blood at the next blood drive. Many organizations also rely on volunteers to deliver services; find one that fits your interest and donate your time.

The benefit is not just to these organizations or our community. Giving to others also benefits the giver. Studies show doing acts of charity increases our sense of well-being, decreases depression, lowers stress levels and leads to longer lives.

Giving of our time, money and efforts connects us as neighbors and as a community. With all happening in our world now, we need that connection more than ever.

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