For karma bonus points, start with #GivingTuesday

I'm sure most reading this don't need a reminder, but here it is anyway:

Unfortunately, there has been a recent trend to spend time throwing blame at the needy. Sure, there are some folks who will game the system. Always has been and always will be. But the vast majority of people seeking help are truly needy, many the vulnerable elderly and families with children. Going to Mother Hubbard's Cupboard to get peanut butter and government-surplus chicken is not exactly living high off the dole. Neither is having your family sleeping in a church basement for a week. The need is very real.

You probably noticed the hashtag in the title. It's a Twitter thing, so if you have a fave charity (like your local food bank, hint hint), Tweet about it and include said hashtag. There's some pretty heavy hitters taking part:

Gates Foundation‏@gatesfoundation

Black Fri. is over. Cyber Mon. is almost here. Then? @ArmchrAdvocates offers 5 easy ways to celebrate #GivingTuesday! http://gates.ly/U6ovXT

I've mentioned the following before, but now seems like a good time to reiterate: most large foundations maintain a hefty portfolio of equities and other holdings, and they often use the earnings from such to cover their operating costs. Unfortunately, those portfolios suffered huge value losses just like your own probably did a few years ago, so they've faced a double-whammy from this recession. A natural drop in donated monies, as well as a drop in investment returns.

The bottom line is, the combined efforts of the various charities are severely limited, and the demand is through the roof. We (that includes me) can no longer assume the needy are being taken care of, and we must act accordingly.

Find out what's happening locally, especially on the food & shelter front, and render what help you can. Don't put it at the bottom of your budget list where it can be erased if the numbers don't look good. Put it at the top, and just do it. And those bags of food they set out at the grocery store to make it easy to give to local food banks? Don't think about it, just grab one (or more) and move along.

Even if this turns out to be a mild Winter, it will still be cold. Right now there aren't enough calories on the shelves to keep those children warm, and that's more than just a shame. It's unacceptable. I'm not trying to shame you into acting...okay, maybe I am a little. But if that's what it takes to make that food materialize, then so be it.