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Monthly Archives: November 2018

It’s easy to get caught up in both the joys and obligations of the holidays between the party frenzy and the nonstop shopping! Don’t let the hectic season stop you from making a real difference today and support a cause you believe in.  Your charitable donation to the American Red Cross ensures we are there for millions of people who face emergencies year-round and help as they rebuild their lives.  Although charity should be altruistic, there can also be some great tax benefits for those who give. However, to receive those benefits, timing your gift at year-end can be crucial. The gift date—the date used for tax purposes—is the day you transfer control of the asset. And that depends on the asset and your method of giving.  Read below to make sure you keep in mind how a simple date could affect you.

How the Gift Date is Determined:

  • Checks — The USPS mailing date, as postmarked, is the date of the gift.
  • Credit cards — The day the charge is posted by the credit card company is considered the gift date.
  • Pledges — Pledges are deductible in the years they are fulfilled and not the year the initial pledge is made.
  • Securities — If securities are electronically transferred to the American Red Cross, the gift date is typically the day the securities enter our account. If security certificates are mailed, the mailing date, as postmarked, is the gift date. It is important to send, by registered or certified mail, the unsigned certificates in a separate envelope from the signed stock power and letter indicating the purpose of your gift.
  • Real estate—The day you deliver the signed deed to us is the date of the gift. If your state law requires recording of the deed to fulfill the title, though, then the date of recording is the gift date.
  • Tangible personal property—The gift date is the day you deliver the property with a signed document transferring ownership, if necessary.

Charitable IRA Rollover

The Charitable IRA Rollover has been a popular option for friends of the American Red Cross, who are 70½ or older, to transfer up to $100,000 directly from an IRA to the Red Cross, without having to declare the funds as taxable income. Your IRA administrator must initiate the rollover. Speak with your CPA or other advisor to determine if an IRA Charitable Rollover is the right choice for you.

As you decide how best to fulfill your year-end gift to the American Red Cross, please take into consideration the time needed by brokerage firms and fund administrators to process your requests.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Colleen Becht-Foltz at 215-299-4082 or via email at colleen.bechtfoltz@redcross.org. Thank you for supporting the American Red Cross.

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This information is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor. Figures cited in examples are for hypothetical purposes only and are subject to change. References to estate and income taxes include federal taxes only. State income/estate taxes or state law may impact your results.

By Kathy Huston

The recent hard-hitting hurricanes (most notably, Florence and Michael) brought out many heroes to help with relief and recovery efforts. Here, two of them who have recently returned from deployment, reflect on their service and the satisfaction it brings them.

Jared Isaacs learned about volunteer opportunities with the Red Cross during an outdoor festival about six years ago and has been volunteering with Disaster Assistance Teams (DAT) ever since. “I was a volunteer firefighter and EMT for many years and stopped doing it when I moved to a new area. As soon as I heard (that with the Red Cross) you can go to big fires and not have to roll the hose up afterwards, I decided to join,” he jokes.

Isaacs’ most recent deployment was to Chapel Hill and Lumberton, NC for about 10 days, working in two different shelters with the Health Services Team. “While there we cared for those with medical emergencies and those with chronic health conditions,” he says. “Some of our time was spent coordinating with outside agencies and other health-care professionals.”

He recalls a man staying at one shelter who had complex medical and mental health issues. “He had no family or friends to support him. We were able to find an outside caseworker from another agency who had recently been assigned to him. That caseworker met with him on several occasions and will support him long after the Red Cross leaves,” he says.

Isaacs also lent an attentive ear as a single parent relayed her frustration trying to find housing for her and her son. “She couldn’t even get an appointment with any of the local housing agencies,” he says. “We talked about how she could advocate for herself and her family. On my last day, she came over and was so excited to tell me she was able to get an appointment with a housing counselor. For her, just being able to get the appointment was a huge win.

“When someone is affected by a disaster, the fire department shows up to do the rescue, EMS is there to handle their injuries and the police will take care of any criminal justice issues. The Red Cross is the only agency that is there to listen and offer support just by being there,” he says. “I’m always amazed by the kindness and compassion offered by our volunteers.”

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University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Friday Center – Red Cross Shelter. Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Photo by: Daniel Cima/American Red Cross 

Cathy Jensen was living in Germany in 2000. The apartment building next door housed American Red Cross volunteers. “I saw, and experienced as an Army wife, all the good they were bringing into the world. I then committed to volunteer with ARC once my life provided me the time,” she says. “That time came in July 2014. I have been volunteering ever since.”

On September 17, Jensen deployed to North Carolina, serving as the Disaster Spiritual Care (DSC) lead in the Durham headquarters, supervising five DSC teams and providing disaster spiritual care to those working in headquarters. On October 17, she deployed to the Red Cross Disaster Operations Center near Washington, DC, providing support to the Disaster Spiritual Care leaders in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Jensen supervised the DSC teams on the ground and was intent on meeting the DSC needs of the staff caring for the clients, whatever their role might be. “All those serving clients risk finding themselves spiritually and emotionally depleted at times,” she notes. “To me, caring for the care providers is paramount in achieving the positive outcomes for our clients. I believe we cannot provide 100% to our clients if we ourselves are not 100% whole.”

Disaster Spiritual Care providers are there to listen to the stories people want to tell, and to help them find their hope and strength to move forward into their recovery. “I enjoy being part of the best humanitarian organization in the world,” Jensen says, echoing Isaacs’ sentiments. “When people see American Red Cross, they see relief, they feel hope … relief from their suffering, and hope for their future. This is why I volunteer, to bring relief from suffering and hope into lives devastated by disasters.”

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If you are interested in volunteering in any of these roles, please visit https://www.redcross.org/local/pennsylvania/eastern-pennsylvania/volunteer.html

By Grace Nava

Every fall we mark National Fire Safety/Fire Prevention Week. As the weather gets colder, the number of fires typically increases dramatically. Considering that, on average, 7 people die every day from home fires, fire prevention is a serious business.

The American Red Cross is very proud of its programs related to fire prevention and their wonderful results:

The Pillowcase Project. Learn. Practice. Share. Originally created by an American Red Cross Chapter in Southern Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it was developed in part as an art therapy program to help children cope with the traumatic effects of the disaster, but it evolved into a nationwide prevention program. The children decorate pillow cases which they use to create an emergency kit. They also learn about fire safety and are encouraged to share their gained knowledge with their parents and caregivers. So far, 1,207,470 children have been reached through this campaign!

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Sound the Alarm. Save a Life. Almost one and a half million free smoke alarms have been installed in high risk neighborhoods since the program started in 2014. During “Sound the Alarm 2018,” volunteers installed 122,259 smoke alarms and raised over $15,400,000 during a two-week blitz. Sound the Alarm, Safe a Life events take place in the spring.

Arlington Home Fire Campaign 2016

However, winter months are when the American Red Cross responds to most fires. Home heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires (cooking is number one). This includes the use of space heaters that overload electric circuits. This is particularly a problem in older homes that may have outdated wiring. In order to prevent a fire, keep the following tips in mind:

Around the House:

  • Never leave candles unattended, that includes leaving candles lit while you sleep.
  • Keep lit candles way out of the reach of small children and pets.
  • Do not overload electric circuits by plugging multiple heat producing devices into one outlet.
  • Avoid heaters with open heat elements.
  • Never smoke in bed or leave lit cigarettes unattended.
  • Unplug your Christmas tree lights when you go to bed.

In the Kitchen:

  • When cooking, don’t leave anything flammable such as mittens or wooden utensils near an open flame.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, but don’t try to put out a fire that is too big for your extinguisher.
  • Don’t leave food being cooked unattended.

Preventive:

  • Check your smoke alarms. Preferably, put a fresh battery at the beginning of winter. If you need smoke alarms, you can contact us here.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector if you have an attached garage or any fuel burning heating system that uses gas, oil, coal, or wood.
  • Have an emergency evacuation plan and practice it with your family.

Once a fire starts, leave the home or building immediately. Fires can spread extremely fast and the smoke is very toxic. Stay warm and safe this winter!

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