Originally created 12/25/96

Charities benefit from tax time



The rush to buy Christmas gifts is over, but another rush begins: to gain tax deductions before the year ends.

Donations can offer one of the largest writ-eoffs for people who itemize deductions with their federal tax returns.

While cash donations are always accepted by Augusta area nonprofit groups, organizations such as The Salvation Army and Goodwill Industries are very busy this time of year because of the rush to get write-offs through noncash donations.

Goodwill Industries Augusta, which depends mostly on noncash donations such as clothing and small appliances, opened in November but already has seen mounds of generosity from contributors.

"They're excellent," said regional director Jeff Blake. "We've just been swamped with donations from the public."

Goodwill has a mid-scale thrift store and donation site at 3120 Peach Orchard Road. That site, in addition to two more in Richmond and Columbia counties, offers personnel who can give receipts for items donated. Items can be donated at five other sites in the two counties, although they have no personnel available.

"Donations are collected, processed, then sold at the store," called the Goodwill Emporium, Mr. Blake said. The proceeds from store sales are used to help fund the Job Connection program that Goodwill sponsors.

The program trains, places and employs people who have job impediments, such as a disability, find employment. It has been gearing up to help people who are leaving welfare roles, too, Mr. Blake said.

"We've been successful already in placing people in employment in the community," he said.

The unsold items in the store are sent to Third World countries to be sold to help people, Mr. Blake said.

The Salvation Army donates unsold items in its thrift stores to needy families, said Wayne Cruey, manager of the main thrift store at 1345 Greene St. Its thrift stores in Augusta and nearby cities offer all kinds of items, which come from donations. The stores accept cars, boats, furniture and even estates, as well as clothing and appliances.

Donations are plentiful.

"We're above last year" in donations, Mr. Cruey said. "It does get larger at the end of the year" so people can take advantage of the tax write-offs.

The Salvation Army has suggested values for clothing and appliances on the back of their receipts, but for larger items, the donors have to come up with their own figures, Mr. Cruey said.

People should look at donating items such as cars, he said.

"We sell cars all the time," the manager said. "They probably come out better by donating it" if they are in a high tax bracket.

Mr. Cruey warns that some people might recognize some of the things in the Salvation Army thrift stores Thursday.

"Some things people buy for others for Christmas end up here," he said.



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