There's still time ...

... to make those year-end donations to food banks and other worthy causes

It's almost here — the end of 2012. Rather than trot out a list of resolutions or wishes for the New Year, let's use what's left of the old year to make our community a better place in 2013.

Those who can help out before the end of the year will reap the benefit of a tax deduction in April.

For starters, the annual ACCESS Food for Hope drive is struggling to meet its goal of 30,000 pounds of food and $30,000 to stock food pantry shelves for the winter and the entire year ahead. Hunger doesn't gnaw only during the holiday season — and the need keeps growing. Alec Schwimmer, ACCESS nutrition programs coordinator, says the agency fed 3,000 families a month in 2011, 3,600 a month in 2012 and expects to hit 4,000 every month in 2013.

As of Friday, the drive was still only two-thirds of the way to meeting its goal. For end-of-the-year donors who want to simply write a check, the good news is that every dollar donated will provide up to five meals, and cash also helps keep freezers operating and trucks on the road.

Mail donations to ACCESS Food for Hope, P.). Box 4666, Medford, Ore. 97501 or go online to and click the "Make a Difference" button. In the dedication field, write in "Food for Hope."

While you're reaching out to struggling families in our area, don't forget struggling organizations that work tirelessly to make our lives richer through art, music, theater and other cultural offerings. The Oregon Cultural Trust supports these efforts with grants across the state every year.

Through a unique program set up by the Oregon Legislature, supporters who give directly to these nonprofit organizations can make a matching gift to the Cultural Trust and qualify for a tax credit of up to $500 for an individual and $1,000 for a couple on their Oregon Personal Income Tax returns. This is a credit, not a deduction. The amount given to the Cultural Trust comes right off the tax you owe.

So if you made a donation to a cultural organization this year — or you still plan to do so — support the Cultural Trust, too, and make your gift go even farther. It's essentially free, because the credit reduces your taxes by the amount of your donation.

Find details at And have a happy and prosperous New Year.

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