Last day for charitable donations

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - December 31 is the last day to make charitable donations to count on 2013 tax returns.

Goodwill, The Salvation Army and United Way saw an uptick in donations Tuesday.

For some, this was a trend throughout 2013. But for others, these last minute contributions will carry a long way.

"We're a little down. We've had some challenges to overcome this year," United Way executive director Nanette Heard said.

Heard said the organization has struggled with competition and the economy.

"There's a lot more nonprofits than there used to be so everybody's competing for those same dollars. The other thing that we've run into this year is people have higher costs themselves so, of course, that's gotta come first and donations come after," Heard said.

Other organizations, like Goodwill and The Salvation Army, saw a better end to 2013.

"It seems to have been almost double of what it was last year this time of year," said Heather Parsons, the Goodwill NEA career center manager. 

"Particularly here toward the end of the year, we've had a number of folks write us $1,000 checks. Somebody wrote us one considerably more than that," said Major Eugene Gesner, the Salvation Army core officer.

However, all three organizations make sure no matter how tough a year is, donations go to the people who need it most. 

"Our operating expenses ran around 22 percent. Of course, the more money we raise, the lower that percentage is. So that's our goal to do as well," Heard said.

"Every time you donate, you're helping put money back into our center where we can help individuals find employment. Our center runs off 96 percent of our donations," Parsons said.

"Most of the time, they designate it toward food or shelter," Gesner said.

These organizations helped thousands in Region 8 during 2013, and they all made New Year's resolutions to continue this mission. 

"We have a couple of new events planned this year," Heard said.

"We have some very aggressive goals for 2014 and we're well on our way there," Parsons said.

"Try to make use of some of these extra donations to rebuild part of our reserves. Replenish those a little and at least get one of those, if not two of those vehicles, replaced within the next year or so," Gesner said.

If you want to get those last minute tax deductions, you can donate to The Salvation Army and United Way by sending a check in the mail or drop it off at their locations by Tuesday night.

You can donate items to Goodwill until 6 p.m.

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