Year-End Gift Giving

Financial advice is probably the last thing you would expect to find in this column, especially after we disclose that neither one of us are financial experts. However, the end of the year is a great season for last-minute donations to ease your tax burdens and to put you in the giving mood for the holidays. And since we have no idea how many runners read the business section, we thought we’d share some advice with you here.

When you open your hearts and wallets to think about year-end donations, make sure you consider the local worthwhile running-related activities that improve the lives of individuals in our community. Many of the following causes would benefit from your generosity:

JUST RUN. This great youth program developed by the Big Sur International Marathon helps fight the youth obesity epidemic. The award-winning program is in 40 schools in Monterey County and expanding nationally as well. It teaches students to love physical activity, to be good citizens, and how to strive for goals and reach them. The program is provided free to schools and youth groups, and depends on grants and personal donations. Over 10,000 children are expected to enroll this year.

See www.justrun.org for more information, or send donations to “BSIM JUST RUN”, PO Box 222620, Carmel, 93922-2620. Call 831-625-6226 for more information.

WNLR SCHOLARSHIP FUND. Since 2001, the famous (to us, anyway) Monterey Bay Wednesday Night Laundry Runners club has provided over $35,000 in college scholarship money to deserving high school seniors. Last year, $9,000 was awarded to 8 students from several local schools. The scholarships are based on academic achievement, leadership, running ability, and financial need. 100% of your donation goes to these deserving students.
Send donations to the WNLR Scholarship fund, 24630 Avenida Principal, Salinas, Ca. 93908, or call 831-905-4301 for more information.

MONTEREY HIGH SCHOOL FIELD AND TRACK RENOVATION. The public/private partnership to upgrade the field and track facilities at Monterey High School has been ongoing for over 5 years now. Almost $1,000,000 has been collected but the cost of the project requires approximately $250,000 more.
This upgrade is long overdue for the athletic facility that was built in 1915. It will be a much needed community asset that helps not only students at Monterey High but everyone on the Monterey Peninsula. Andy Bedell, Monterey High School Principal, says that any donations are welcome, and there are still many tiles left in the “Honor Wall.”

Go to www.montereyhightradition.org to look at investment opportunities and find out more about the Honor Wall or other ways you can help. Call Principal Bedell for more information at 831-392-3833.

YOUR LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL RUNNING TEAMS. You don’t have to look any farther than your nearest school to find a worthy charity donation. Nearly all track and cross-country programs are chronically underfunded in school budgets, especially in comparison to larger sports. Every team needs uniforms, travel money, and other training gear. Some Monterey County schools can barely afford shoes to allow students to race. Call your local high school and ask for the track or XC coach, and they’ll be happy to accept your donation.

DONATE YOUR OLD RUNNING SHOES TO THE TREADMILL. The Treadmill in the Carmel Crossroads shopping center has been collecting used running shoes for many years. The shoes are delivered to impoverished areas, including a recent shipment to Guatemala with the local Dentists Without Borders group. They also are given out locally to low income families in Salinas and the Monterey Peninsula. So don’t discard your old running shoes – they might be a great gift for a family in need.

ENTER A LOCAL RACE. This is the fun way to donate. Sometimes we forget that virtually all local races are fundraisers for worthy charities. So whether you are a walker or a runner, and even if you don’t feel like racing, go ahead and enter a race.

While we have you doing your year-end planning, go ahead and put these races on your schedule:

Rio Resolution Run on January 1st benefits Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Monterey County. Go to www.riogrillsresoltionrun.com

Together with Love Run on February 10th benefits the Monterey Rape Crisis Center. Go to www.mtryrapecrisis.org

The Big Sur International Marathon and related events on April 26th and 27th benefits local schools, public organizations, and charities. The BSIM has provided over $200,000 a year to local organizations. Go to www.bsim.org

GIVE THE GIFT OF RUNNING. This one’s not tax-deductible, but it’s the best gift you can give. As you think about your year-end donations, consider encouraging or coaching someone close to you to start a running program. There’s no kinder present for a loved one or a friend than health and vitality.

On behalf of all of these worthy causes, thank you for supporting the local running community!

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