Charity made easy during difficult times | NevadaAppeal.com

Charity made easy during difficult times

Andrew Pridgen
Appeal Staff Writer

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Leanna Temple, 10, shops for the Toys for Tots program at Wal-Mart with money she raised from selling her homemade peanut brittle.

Times are tough.

Even during the most wonderful time of year.

This holiday season, Northern Nevadans’ travails have morphed into a microcosm for what ails the nation.

A cursory glance at the headlines of 2007 reveals Northern Nevada has weathered the storm of an economic slowdown, a rise in violent drug-related and violent crime, gas prices holding steady at more than $3 a gallon, a subprime lending market whose bottom fell out ushering in an era of foreclosure and credit woes, a war in Iraq that has involved U.S. forces longer than World War II, and even record low rainfall.

Despite the headlines, this is the season for giving, and residents got creative to help out.

Take Leanna Temple, 10, of Minden, and her grandmother, Patty Temple, of Carson City. They didn’t wait until the last minute to start their season of giving.

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Granddaughter approached Grandmother and said she wanted to make a few batches of peanut brittle to sell to family, friends, classmates and her parents’ co-workers.

This was early November. The proceeds would go to Toys for Tots.

In the six weeks that followed, Leanna and Patty spent every weekend in the kitchen filling back orders of the seasonal goodie.

“My, my do we have backorders,” said Patty in mid-December. “The idea really took off, and the peanut brittle, it actually turned out really good.”

The pair raised more than $600, and along with a $50 gift card from the Topsy Lane Wal-Mart offered by the chain after hearing of the effort, the Temples were able to go on a shopping spree for children before Christmas.

“Leanna worked so hard for this,” Patty said of the Piñon Hills fifth-grader. “It was her idea – she even named the company.

It’s ‘Lenana’ – she calls me ‘Nana,’ so there you go.”

As for the peanut brittle…

“It was just a recipe I had,” Patty said. “But now that this idea’s taken off, I guess it’s now a family recipe.”

• • •

In spite of the economy’s gloom and doom that was the year 2007, other Carson residents found a way to give this holiday season.

“And it wasn’t easy, I can tell you that much,” said Carson resident Ron Bowman, who said he could hardly remember a time since he moved here in 1971 that times had been so tight.

“I’m retired now, so I’m on a fixed income, so the ups and downs of the economy don’t affect me as much,” he said. “But I used to be a contractor. I just ran into one of my (contractor) friends today and he told me how slow things are – he hasn’t been working.

“Those guys represent a significant number of the workforce here – they had four or five big years, and then it just came to a stop. So when they’re hurting, I’ve got to assume the whole area is hurting.”

Bowman is right. In accordance with national reports that this year’s shopping season had a quick surge for Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) only to give way to a slow-down, several local merchants reported a similarly slow December.

As did consumers.

“Well, we didn’t go crazy this year with our Christmas shopping if that’s what you’re asking,” said Minden resident Earl Mussett. “We’re still looking for ways to give both to our family and those in the community. But it may not be on a large scale.

“But, I think when you’re talking about the community, it’s a thing where this time of year especially, we get a mailbox full of requests. Everyone needs money. Everyone asks for something. You just can’t say ‘yes’ to everyone who is in need. That’s kind of the sad reality.”

Representatives of local help organizations and nonprofits empathize with the belt-tightening this year, but offer solutions; namely, people giving the “most precious gift of all” – their time.

“Well, it’s not something we’ll look at completely until the holiday is over, but this is a high-demand time of year, and we hope to keep getting donations through Christmas and the New Year,” said FISH Food Bank director of human services Reed Robbins. “Let’s put it this way, if people want to help out – they can contact us and we’ll find something for them to do.”

Dagen Kipling and his mother, Brenda, who were recently featured in a Nevada Appeal story chronicling Dagen’s celebration of Hanukkah with his doing something charitable for the community each of the holiday’s eight nights, said serving food to the needy made the biggest impression on them.

“It’s something that really struck me,” Dagen, 9, said. “Not a lot of people have a lot right now.”

Which may be the point, Carson resident Bowman said.

“It’s not too late to get out there and do something,” he said. “I’m going to be ringing the bell for (Salvation Army) this weekend. It’s been a tough year on many. But I don’t think it’s ever too late to help turn that around.”

• Contact staff writer Andrew Pridgen at apridgen@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.

Last-minute giving

• Those who are doing last-minute shopping online can visit sites from Macy’s, Best Buy, Apple and Barnes & Noble. These retailers donate an average of 3 percent and up to 37 percent of each purchase to the charity or school of a customer’s choice. Visit goodshop.com for more information.

• Ask your employer about donating your extra sick or vacation days to charity, especially if you don’t have rollover. This is also tax deductible.

• Goodsearch.com donates a penny to a favorite charity or school every time you search the Web site.

• A complete list of places to volunteer around the holidays or year-round, along with links to individual Web sites and contact information can be found at http://www.charity-charities.org/ charities/NV/CarsonCity.html.