How to Spend Your Stimulus Check
Starting this week, more than 100 million Americans will receive checks from the federal government as part of a bipartisan initiative to stimulate the economy. Savvy retailers have been promoting special "tax rebate" sales, car discounts, summer trips, and just about everything else that can be pitched, marketed or sold -- all hoping to capitalize on the billions the U.S. Treasury is sending out to qualifying taxpayers.
But there's another option for spending the money that represents one of the best ways we can help this nation: Donate it to charitable organizations supporting our troops and their families.
This proposal is one that Americans all across the political spectrum should enthusiastically embrace. Many who oppose the war have criticized the Bush administration for not calling on Americans to sacrifice more to assist our men and women in uniform. Well, why wait for the president to ask? Let's just do it.
Those who advocated invading Iraq or who support staying there, particularly conservative talk show hosts and commentators, have expressed the need to show our troops that we're behind them. The stimulus checks present a perfect opportunity for citizens, pro-war or not, to give to worthy military- and veteran-related charities -- and to persuade others to do the same.
Congregations, civic organizations, fraternities, sororities and other groups could pool their money and adopt a local base, military hospital, Veterans Affairs medical center or homeless shelter for veterans. Now is the time to say, "What can we do to help?"
Americans nationwide have contributed time and money, but many of these individuals are themselves veterans or the family members of troops. They give because they are all too familiar with the hardships of military life. It is critical that those of us who are not a part of this community demonstrate our support as well.
There are countless ways to help our troops, from sending phone cards and care packages overseas to building homes for disabled veterans and providing scholarships for the children of service members killed in action.
The American Institute of Philanthropy, a nonpartisan organization that reports on how efficiently charities dispense their funds, has compiled an excellent list of first-rate nonprofits, including the Fisher House Foundation, Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, Army Emergency Relief, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society and the National Military Family Association. Many others can easily be found online