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Giving is a Family Tradition

As a young adult, I would help my grandmother, Elizabeth Doughty, with a charitable project. She was a member of the Wheeling Hospital auxiliary and the group would spend the entire year sewing hand-made pillows to be given out to people who were hospitalized on Christmas Eve. When I was home from college over the holiday break or even a few years after that, I would help her and the other auxiliary members transport the pillows from the storage area of the hospital to then deliver them to patients. It wasn’t a big commitment of me, but it was something that she asked me to do for several years. She always made it seem as if they wouldn’t be able to do it without me.

I didn’t give this request much thought at the time, but today in my role as a philanthropic advisor at the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley, I think about it often. Of course, she needed extra hands to get the pillows delivered, but I think she was also trying to instill in me the importance of thinking of others who are less fortunate. Anyone who has to spend the night in the hospital on Christmas Eve is certainly deserving of a little comfort and the knowledge that someone cares.

Another annual tradition was “adopting” a family in need during Christmas and shopping for their presents. This was something we found to be fun and fulfilling as a family. My mother would look for families that had children close to our ages so my sister and I could help with the shopping. We would then deliver the gifts to the local Salvation Army who took it from there. We never knew who exactly we were helping, but that didn’t matter. The activity helped us get into the Christmas spirit.

Every day we are faced with opportunities to help others in need. Whether it is by volunteering for a local nonprofit organization doing good work or by making a donation, these acts are something that make you feel like you have helped to make life better for someone else.

When the time comes to consider charitable giving, I am reminded of these little things that my family taught me. I am sure you have examples of these family traditions of charitable giving that can help guide you in your philanthropy. Many people carry on those giving traditions with funds at the Community Foundation so that the organizations they give to during their lifetime can continue to receive support after they have passed on.

This week marks National Community Foundation Week. There are more than 750 community foundations across the country and each one serves a defined geographic region. The Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley serves Jefferson, Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel, Tyler, and Belmont Counties in the Upper Ohio Valley region. Our work gives us the opportunity to learn what other charitable traditions exist among local families.

As we enter the season of giving, I encourage you to think about how you can contribute, whether it’s through a one-time gift to a local nonprofit organization or by establishing a fund that could also memorialize someone special who inspired your giving spirit. I can assure you, the needs in our region are great and your gift would be appreciated.

If you would be interested in discussing how your assets can continue to support the giving traditions you care about, please reach out to us at the Community Foundation. This is what we do best. You can reach me, Executive Director Susie Nelson or Director of Development Nick Musgrave at 304-242-3144. Or you can visit to learn more.