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It's that time of year to give to charities

Maurice Williams wraps an outgoing pallet Greater Chicago Food Depository warehouse.

Maurice Williams wraps an outgoing pallet at the Greater Chicago Food Depository warehouse.

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Updated: May 3, 2013 12:15PM

It's the holiday season, with only a few more days to shop. In spite of the recession, the latest Gallup poll estimates that consumer spending will rise 1 percent this year, to an average of $743 a person.

Nearly 3 in 10 will spend $1,000 or more. And that's likely to include you -- if you've read this far into a money column on a business page.

STOP. Have you given enough this year? What's enough? Sorry, there's no financial formula for that answer. But you'll certainly know it in your heart. So as you rush around today, scrambling for those last-minute gifts, don't forget the gift of charity, much needed always, and particularly this year.

Don't have time? Here. I'll make a short list for you. And even if you don't have time to shop, you can make a phone call today, offer your credit card, and know that some local agency will put your dollars to good use, even at this late moment, helping Santa deliver either food or clothes or toys to a needy family.

Santa's help list

*United Way of Chicago, (312) 906-2350.

*Greater Chicago Food Depository, (773) 247-3663.

*Chicago Sun-Times Charity Trust. The "Letters to Santa" campaign still needs more money to buy gifts, at a cost of about $25 each, to fulfill hundreds of children's Christmas wish. Three ways to donate: visit, and click on ''Answer his letter to Santa;'' call (773) 890-7373; e-mail

*Want to teach your children or grandchildren the real lesson of the holiday? Walk into any store that has toys -- stuffed animals, little trucks, dolls, games -- and load up. It doesn't have to be the hottest or most-expensive toy of the season. But it will be "a present from Santa" under the tree for a child who would otherwise have nothing. And your own kids will learn an invaluable lesson. But hurry, Santa's sleigh is waiting for you to deliver. Just go to Chicagoland Toys for Tots, 3034 West Foster. (There's a drop-off box if you arrive in the evening.)

Animal causes

And don't forget our pets. Many families can't afford to feed their children, much less the dogs and cats, and even the horses that stand shivering in the cold, hoping for a bale of hay. These two organizations do all they can to help rescue -- and rehabilitate -- stranded animals. A donation from you would go a long way:

*PAWS (Pets Are Worth Saving) 773- 935-PAWS (773-935-7297) and www.Paws

*Hoofed Animal Humane Society, (815) 337-5563,

Other ideas

There are many other worthy -- and needy -- organizations:

*Inquire at your local town hall if you seek a recipient closer to home.

*Check with local religious groups to see if they could use your help as a "Secret Santa."

*Or maybe you have a relative who could use help -- an elderly person stretching to make ends meet on a tight budget or an in-law whose kids bear the brunt of the economy.

Just remember the old saying: The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

So pick up the phone to contribute, walk out of the office to do something nice at lunch today, drop a dollar in the Salvation Army kettle, even if you already gave last week. Americans have always been known as the most-generous nation on Earth. Let's prove it again in the next four days.

There's nothing that makes you feel better than giving. And that's The Savage Truth.

Terry Savage is a registered investment adviser. Distributed by Creators Syndicate.

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