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Letter: Charity begins at home

To the editor: I have been meaning to write this letter since Clarence Fanto’s Jan. 4 column about Berkshire nonprofits appeared in The Eagle.

Based on the deluge of begging requests filling our mailbox in November and December far outnumbering the always welcome Christmas cards buried in their midst, we decided that a strategy for giving was needed. One thing became apparent after examining these envelopes: They originate from sources all over the country. So our first rule of perusal became examine the postmark. With rare exceptions, this simple tactic eliminated many of the envelopes.

We consider living in the Berkshires to be a privilege, but this privilege comes at a cost. Therefore, our second rule for giving is: Give to the organizations that make the Berkshires who we are. In other words, give local. Among the nonprofits that we consider important to the health of the area are: church, Hancock Shaker Village, Tanglewood, Shakespeare & Co., The Mount, Trustees of Reservation properties including Naumkeag, Barrington Stage, Mass MoCA, The Clark and The Norman Rockwell Museum. Our lives would be poorer without radio station WAMC and public TV station WMHT, so these nonprofits are included in our giving. Because of the care given to local folk, we support hospice, but make sure that the postmark is local.

However, our third rule is that until we win the lottery, one contribution a year is all that can be given. If you hound us for more, you might not receive any.

Because we spend hundreds of dollars on the birds and wildlife that visit our yard, we do not support Mass Audubon financially; however, we applaud the work that they do here and elsewhere in Massachusetts. We do support Dawn Collins’ Berkshire Wildlife Services, which cares for injured animals in the hill towns.

And last but not least, because we live in a small town and have friends and neighbors who sometimes need help, we try to give whatever is needed and accept with joy the things that are given to us. According to the proverb, charity begins at home.

Margaret Roussin, Hinsdale

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