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Better To Give… 

Here’s how to help out the community’s working poor—and it won’t cost you dime!

Organizations like the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona benefit from volunteer contributions and tax credits.

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Organizations like the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona benefit from volunteer contributions and tax credits.

It's that time of the year again, when we explain Arizona's somewhat convoluted tax-credit program and suggest you give a few dollars to a nonprofit agency that helps the working poor, with the promise that you get your money back once you file your state income taxes. 

Here's how it works: You give up to $400 (or $800 for a married couple filing jointly) to a charity such as the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona or the Emerge! Center against Domestic Violence. Then you get the a dollar-for-dollar credit against your state tax bill when you file your taxes. It's essentially a way of directing some of your taxes directly to the nonprofits that help those in need.

You can find a complete list of qualifying agencies and more details about the working-poor tax credit at https://azdor.gov/tax-credits, but here are a few nonprofits worth supporting:

Even with unemployment rates dropping, the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona has not seen much drop in demand. Food bank CEO Michael McDonald said the Food Bank is on target to help about 187,000 people this year, which is down from about 200,000 people last year. When it comes to food security in the six counties that the food bank serves, "we really haven't moved the needle in a big way, because the economy has not improved for everyone. Poverty is still pretty high."

The food bank always appreciates donations of non-perishable food, but can also leverage cash donations to buy food in bulk and support its other programs, such as gardening programs and the storage and distribution of perishable food from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is purchasing food from farmers and ranchers who can't sell their goods overseas because of the Trump administration's trade wars. Several major donors are matching donations through the end of the year.

To make a donation visit communityfoodbank.org/ and click "DONATE." The organization's Arizona Qualifying Charitable Organization code is 20488.

The Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse has seen a major surge in the number of people requiring their services as a result in a change of policy in how local law enforcement handles domestic-violence calls. Last year, Emerge! provided roughly 20,000 "bed nights" of shelter to people fleeing abusive relationships; this year, the number was closer to 28,000, according to Emerge!'s Lauryn Bianco. As a result, in addition to financial support, Emerge! has an ongoing toiletries drive. Details can be found at emergecenter.org and donations can be dropped off at their office at 2545 E. Adams St. To make a donation, call 795-8001 ext. 7010 or visit emergecenter.org.  The organization's Arizona Qualifying Charitable Organization code is 20487.

Arts for All offers a safe space for children and adults with and without disabilities to express themselves artistically. The organization hosts a variety of programs, including traditional arts, ceramics, dance, drama and music, and provides for out-of-school programming, adult day classes and summer camps.

While Arts for All works to improve the lives of countless members of the local community, Executive Director Marcia Berger said 85 percent of attendees come from low-income families, and 70 percent are living with a disability. When working to cover the cost of scholarships, Berger said donations from the community are a veritable lifeline, and allow the organization to accomplish its goals.

To make a donation, call 622-4100, or visit artsforallinc.org or mail checks to 2520 N. Oracle Road, Tucson, Arizona 85705. The organization's Arizona Qualifying Charitable Organization code is 20349.

The Therapeutic Ranch for Animals and Kids strengthens youth and community through animal interaction. The ranch offers programs for children with and without specific challenges. Programs include horseback riding lessons for all ages and life skills learning.

According to the organization's website, their programs and work "nurtures the gifts and abilities in everyone through animal interaction."

When children work with TRAK animals, they gain confidence, motivation, trust and social skills. TRAK also provides the opportunity for volunteers to work with both children and animals. With over 70 animals, including dogs, horses, rabbits, chickens, goats and more, TRAK is always in need of food and supplies.

To make a contribution, call 298-9808, or visit traktucson.org. Mail donations to 3250 E. Allen Road, Tucson, AZ 85718. The organization's Arizona Qualifying Charitable Organization code is 20740.

The Southern Arizona Research, Science and Engineering Foundation, or SARSEF, funds local science education and creates "Arizona's future critical thinkers and problem solvers thorough science and engineering."

The organization hosts science fairs for local schools, offers a girls science camp and partners with local STEM organizations to help spread scientific literacy among kids. SARSEF also inspires science learning in schools by celebrating local science projects. Beyond helping students, SARSEF also provides professional development tools and instruction for teachers, and presents classroom instruction on effective scientific practices.

To make a contribution, call 621-8646, or visit sarsef.org/donors. The organization's Arizona Qualifying Charitable Organization code is 21048.

The Primavera Foundation, Inc. helps homeless and under-employed Southern Arizonans, either through affordable housing initiatives, or via its classes on financial and homebuyer education.

Donation go toward helping local residents in difficult situations live financially sound lives, with the foundation helping 8,000 people annually in the greater Tucson region through the center's emergency shelter and its various services. 

Primavera Marketing and Communications Coordinator Heather Strong said donations help those in-need in a variety of ways: Through the foundation's affordable rental housing, homeless prevention drop-in centers and shelters, its work employment services, its financial education and empowerment courses, and its neighborhood revitalization and engagement exercises around Tucson.

To make a contribution, call 308-3104 or visit primavera.org/donate. Make donations to the Foundation's physical address at 151 W. 40th Street. The organization's Arizona Qualifying Charitable Organization code is 20680.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Arizona matches local kids with mentors. Besides the gift of friendship, the kids and their mentors go out and have fun at places like the zoo, the movies or even big events like El Tour de Tucson.

"Most of the youth have a single parent and some have parents who are incarcerated," said Michael Blimes, director of philanthropy. "A donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters can ignite the potential in child."

While Big Brothers Big Sisters is a nationwide nonprofit, all of the chapters are independent and autonomous.

To make a contribution, visit  soazbigs.org/az-tax-credit/. The organization's Arizona Qualifying Charitable Organization code is 20461.

—Jim Nintzel, Logan Burtch-Buus, Jeff Gardner, Tirion Morris, Christopher Boan and Chandler Donald.

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