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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

Put 'give' back into 'Thanksgiving'

Deborah Wallace volunteers at a food pantry and

Deborah Wallace volunteers at a food pantry and distribution site run by the Long Island Council of Churches in Riverhead. (Nov. 14, 2011) Credit: Ed Betz

Happy Thanksgetting!

That's right. Thanks. Getting.

That might as well be the holiday's new name, given that the thanks -- for turkey, family, friends -- too quickly gets edged out by the getting at pre-Black Friday sales.

But wait a minute. Perhaps it's time to put the giving back into the official start of the holiday season. As it is, things started off sparse: Some local needy families got chickens, rather than turkeys, because local giving is down this year.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano on Tuesday joined a host of businesses, and nonprofit and other agencies, including the local Korean American Public Affairs Committee, to bring attention to one issue: Hunger.

OK, so everything costs more these days; and the remnants of the Great Recession keep pulling at almost everyone. But it shouldn't take the jolt of chickens for dinner or a news conference to set things right.

There are always good neighbors, thousands of local men, women and children who volunteer their time to do good deeds. But, come on, Long Island, we can do better.

And Thursday -- yes, Thanks-G-I-V-I-N-G -- is a fine time to start.

Whether it's the United Way of Long Island, the Long Island Community Foundation or the local church, temple, mosque or Kiwanis Club, plan a way to G-I-V-E this season.

It could be food, clothing, time, toys. Somebody out there needs something, and that's becoming more and more true for middle-class families on Long Island, too. And those needs are growing, even as local governments work to fill deficits and not-for-profits struggle for funds.

Think of the local Toys for Tots campaign or the Salvation Army.

G-I-V-E.

And there's no reason to wait until Friday to begin. Thursday, after dinner -- and before resting up for shopping -- fire up the computer.

One of the newer ways to match micro-donors (those willing to contribute smaller sums of, say, $5 or $10) with the needy is Give Locally, a two-year old, for-profit Internet firm whose chief executive is Andrew "Bo" Young III, son of the civil rights activist.

So far, givelocally.net, which uses much of its revenue to screen and verify need before adding profiles to the site, has been helping families in Georgia, California and other states. But it expanded recently into New York. The company is looking both for donors and working-class families in need who do not qualify for traditional charitable services.

"New Yorkers have a proud tradition of helping each other, as we saw after Sept. 11," Young said in an interview.

Or look at Karma411, a Jericho company, which gives would-be philanthropists tools to raise funds for causes near and dear to them.

Open up, reach out and not just for the season.

"The trick is to make a habit of giving all year around," said Gwen O'Shea, head of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island.

Indeed.

How to help

There are many ways to put giving back into the season for fellow Long Islanders in need. Check your community. Here are a few other ways for donors, large and small, to give:

NEWSDAY CHARITIES HELP A FAMILY newsday.com

GIVE LOCALLY To donate or to nominate a neighbor for help, go to givelocally.net

KARMA411 karma411.com

UNITED WAY OF LONG ISLAND unitedwayli.org

LONG ISLAND COMMUNITY FOUNDATION licf.org

ISLAND HARVEST To donate food or services, go to islandharvest.org

SALVATION ARMY, NEW YORK www.salvationarmy.org

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