Thursday, December 31, 2015

Last Day To Give in 2015

Little girl holding cardboard thank you sign.
photo via Pinterest
You've got just a few hours left to get your tax credit for charitable deductions for 2015 and we thought we'd share some of SunSpots staff members favorites.

However, first it's good to find out who the best charities are. Who are the ones using their money for the cause they support and not staffing or advertising? Who does the most with the money they bring in? Charity Navigator is a superb resource for investigating and rating charities of all sizes. Visit their site and search for your favorite charity to see how they rank.

Wounded vet in wheelchair in front of his house.
I discovered that one of the most visible veteran's charities, the Wounded Warrior Project, didn't score as well on Charity Navigator as lesser known organizations that help vets and their families. That's why I personally give to  Homes for Our Troops, which helps build and/or retrofit homes for service men and women who've been injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here's Home for Our Troops web site. Check them out. They may not have major celebrities singing their praises, but they are doing the good work for vets and their families who need it most. 

Many of the SunSpots crew are dog and cat owners and support the national missions of the ASPCA ( Though they're effective ads, even Sarah McLaughlin admits she has a hard time watching those she did the music and voiceover for. They're powerful, touching, compelling messages and we're behind the good they do for all animals.

Buzzy the studio dog at SunSpots Productions Asheville studios.
Buzzy at SunSpots Productions NC studios near Asheville
Locally (we have studios near Asheville, NC and Orlando, FL), the two Tom's of SunSpots are both fans of Asheville, NC's Brother Wolf Animal Rescue. Our studio dog, Buzzy came from Brother Wolf in 2010 and is snuggled up against my right side as I write this. Brother Wolf has been recognized in 2015 by readers of Mountain Xpress as the #1 Volunteer Opportunity, #1 Animal Shelter, #1 Activist Group and #1 Nonprofit Organization in the Asheville area. Congrats to them and their unwavering compassion for all animals great and small. I'm also a fan of the South Lake Animal League in Groveland, FL.

Karin, one of our voice talent coordinators who works remotely from Michigan, offered this when I asked her about her favorite charities:
This year, my daughter’s first grade class adopted a little boy for Christmas through the Salvation Army's Angel tree program. The child they adopted was 6, just like them!  My daughter was really motivated to raise money for the class to buy gifts and necessities (coat, shoes, clothes) for their adopted friend.  She drew pictures and sold them to our neighbors for donations! I love that she thought outside of the box as to how to help someone in need. Not only did she donate money, but she got our neighbors excited to be involved in helping a little boy in need! 
Like Karin, Tom K. in Asheville, is also a supporter of the local Salvation Army.

Karin loves her local chapter of Toys for Tots. She and her daughter were visiting their area ToysRUs and discovered the Marines had already landed!
We went in one day to almost bare shelves!  The workers said the Marines came in and went wild buying toys for local kids :) Love that we were able to see this is charity in action!
Happy kids receive boxes from Samaritan's Purse
Happy kids with their Samaritan's Purse shoeboxes
Our brand manager, Barbara, introduced me to the fun of filling a shoebox for kids around the world with the charity, Samaritan's Purse. Was a blast trying to pick out toys and necessities for kids of different ages that would fit in the boxes. Last year our boxes went across the globe to Burundi. Seeing the kids smiling faces as they opened their boxes was worth fighting the crowds at the Dollar Store before Christmas. You can donate directly with them today for the tax deduction or wait till next year and fill some shoeboxes with treats. (Filling the boxes is more fun!)

Curious seal pup at the Marine Mammal Center in CA.
Seal at the Marine Mammal Center
Shannon suggested The Marine Mammal Center as one of her favorite charities. She's a life long animal lover...of all kinds! Here's what the The Marine Mammal Center describes as their mission:
Our mission is to expand knowledge about marine mammals—their health and that of their ocean environment—and to inspire their global conservation. Our core work is the rescue and rehabilitation of sick and injured marine mammals.
She's also a supporter of the Natural Resources Defense Council who work to save the planet from being "smooshed". (My word, not hers.)

Others mentioned were locally based church groups near parents such as the Lake Jackson TX Church of Christ (...they're having a tasty pulled pork dinner on 1/6!), St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Woodworth, IL and the Biltmore Church of Christ in Asheville, NC.

Another favorite is the American Humanist Association (we're a varied staff ;-) ).

Hope this gives you some last minute inspiration to research and donate to your favorite charity. Hurry though, you've got just a few hours to make the deadline for a 2015 tax deduction.

Have a Happy New Year!


Thomas Rohe
SunSpots Productions

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