The following editorial appeared in The Exponent Telegram, Clarksburg, W.Va., on Dec. 1:
In a state where far too many residents are in desperate need of assistance to get by, charitable giving has dropped for the second straight year.
That’s according to Philanthropy West Virginia, a statewide leadership organization that assists private, family, corporate and community foundations and grant-making institutions.
In its 2015 West Virginia State of Philanthropy Report, the group says that according to tax data, charitable giving dropped 2.2 percent in 2013, which is the last year for which full data is available.
That amounts to about a $10.4 million decrease in aid to worthwhile organizations that use the money to help others secure a variety of needs. It is also about $17 million less than was given in 2011.
West Virginia’s trend goes against the national norm, as across the country charitable giving was up 5.4 percent.
“Even though nationally the country is seeing a recovery from the ‘Great Recession’ of the past several years, West Virginia has a long way to go to recover,” said Paul D. Daugherty, president and CEO of Philanthropy West Virginia. “During this time of economic challenges for the state, we can see the impact on charitable and philanthropic sectors.”
The study indicates a disturbing trend in that people with low- and middle-class incomes continue to give at a rate that meets or exceeds the national average. But the Mountain State is below the national average when it comes to the amount of giving by high-income households.
Daugherty extolled all West Virginians to “rise to the challenge and increase their charitable giving.”
Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, The Exponent Telegram shined a light on worthwhile groups in our area that are helping others: The Salvation Army, Clarksburg Mission and United Way of Harrison County.
We know there are more worthwhile groups that need assistance so they can help more people. Many of these groups and agencies provide services that can prove to be life-saving or life-altering, making their work all the more significant.
As we enter the season of thanks and giving, we urge residents to do their part — extend a helping hand to others by helping groups that are serving those most in need.
There is truth in the saying that it is “better to give than receive,” as the Lord reminds us in Matthew 25:35-40:
“‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
“And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”