Runestad Spinal Column op-ed: Meeting needs this season

By Sen. Jim Runestad
15th Senate District
Spinal Column October/November 2019

The weather has started to turn cold here in Oakland County and across the state, and that means there is much to do in the coming weeks: We’ve got to set up the Halloween decorations, prepare the Thanksgiving meal, dust off the Christmas lights, buy presents, prepare to host the in-laws, and face all of the craziness that surrounds the holiday season.

One thing we sometimes forget during the hustle and bustle is how this season will affect the most vulnerable among us. When the weather is colder, the need in our community is greater. And make no mistake, there are many needs right here in Oakland County.

Hospitality House Food Pantry in Walled Lake knows this reality firsthand. They distribute more than 30,000 pounds of food every month to families in need. Thousands of people in our community receive the help they need thanks to Hospitality House, food banks and other charities. Organizations like Hospitality House provide vital services to our most vulnerable residents.

Unfortunately, charitable donations have declined dramatically in recent years, and these organizations can’t fulfill the need alone. That’s why I’m working in the Legislature on measures to encourage folks to give to charities like we once did.

Toward that end, I have sponsored Senate Bill 55, which would restore the income tax credit for charitable donations that was eliminated in 2011. This legislation would enable residents to claim an income tax credit of up to 50% of the total cash value of charitable contributions to shelters for homeless people, food kitchens, food banks and other similar organizations.

We should be doing whatever we can to encourage folks to give to these very important organizations. This legislation will do just that by offering tax relief to those willing to give a helping hand.

But we should not wait for this tax credit to get passed into law before we do something. Instead, we ought to give and help others right now. And not just now, but year-round!

So whether it’s a monetary donation, a donation of food supplies, or even donating your time to help, please consider doing so. During this upcoming holiday season let’s do our best to think less about our busy schedules and more about what we can do to truly make a difference for families and the most vulnerable in our community.

This op-ed appeared in the Nov. 20 edition of The Spinal Column. State Sen. Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, represents Michigan’s 15th District.