Editorial: Resolve to give more

Whidbey Islanders can probably agree on one resolution as we enter a new year: In 2009, we should do more to help our neighbors.

This is not to say that islanders are not traditionally a generous lot. Just look at the myriad of nonprofit organizations in our midst and at the number of community events that would never happen if it wasn’t for people who volunteer their time, talent and resources.

But 2009 is shaping up to be a year in which more help is needed. Without trying to sound like a Cassandra, the economic outlook is not good. People with jobs have seen their retirement savings hit hard and are cutting back on their spending, which hurts local businesses. People without jobs are hoping to find work before their unemployment insurance expires. Needless to say, they’re not spending, either.

Meanwhile, the economic downturn has affected local governments, which are trimming budgets and employees. How bad it will get won’t be determined until the Legislature establishes the new state budget, on which school districts and municipalities are highly dependent. If state leaders decide to balance the budget at the expense of local jurisdictions, then we can safely say the cutting has barely begun. Frankly, it doesn’t look good one week before the Legislature convenes. The state is facing a multi-billion-dollar deficit. Its best hope is that the federal government will offer significant bailout money, but 50 states are asking for the same thing. At some point, even Uncle Sam will hit his credit limit.

As a result of all this, local organizations that help the needy will themselves need more assistance than ever, and it’s unlikely to be coming from the government. That’s where the people of Whidbey Island and all of Island County will have to step up.

If you’re fortunate enough to be financially stable as a family, it’s time to give more. Be a bit more generous when the collection plate comes around Sunday morning; give to United Way of Island County, which shares donations with a myriad of worthy causes; support food banks, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Island County, Big Brother Big Sister of Island County, and other youth-oriented groups; give to the Whidbey General Hospital Foundation to help sustain our hospital; donate to our various Senior Centers to help the elderly; give to the school foundations that fund special projects in Oak Harbor, Coupeville and South Whidbey schools. And don’t forget the animals, which also suffer during painful economic times. Give to the Whidbey Animal Improvement Foundation or the animal fund of your choice.

These are just a few ideas for giving. Whether your primary interest is children, the homeless, the unemployed, the elderly or our our four-legged friends, there are plenty of organizations available to help them in Island County. But as more help is needed, resources are drained.

That’s why we resolve to give more in 2009. We hope you agree.

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