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12 Days Of Charitable Giving: Ride For Reading

Dec 26 2013, 2:11pm CST | by

12 Days Of Charitable Giving: Ride For Reading
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It’s the ninth day of our 12 Days of Charitable Giving! In December, I’ll be focusing on twelve charitable organizations which my readers have nominated as most deserving of your charitable donation. You have less than a week to squeeze in your charitable deduction for tax purposes in 2013 – so why not consider one of our twelve?

Today’s featured charity is Ride For Reading.

Ride For Reading is based in Nashville, Tennessee. The organization’s mission is to promote literacy and healthy living through the distribution of books via bicycle to children from low income neighborhoods. Every month in Nashville, Tennessee as many as 40 cyclists gather and ride to the city’s most impoverished neighborhood schools with books in tow. A Ride for Reading representative speaks to the kids about the importance of a healthy life and literacy. The volunteers then deliver hundreds of new and used children’s books and the students get to pick a couple that they love to take home with them and read as often as they like!

You can check out how the organization works here:

Two years ago, the charity went national. They have now donated over 140,000 books nationally to children who truly need them. You can see a map of schools which have received books by bike here: the map does not include all of the schools who have participated in the organization’s “Teacher Book Pick-Up” program.

Why is this important? Statistically, low levels of literacy lead to unemployment, poverty, and crime. According to the Department of Education, on average, welfare recipients ages 17 to 21 read at the sixth-grade level, well below what is needed to earn a living wage. Nearly half (43%) of those persons with the lowest literacy skills live in poverty. In poor neighborhoods, however, books are luxuries: the ratio of books per child is one age-appropriate book for every 300 children.

So how can you help?

Get on a bike! One of largest events for the organization is National Ride for Reading Week. This occurs every year for one week in May (which is also National Bike Month). During this week, the organization asks volunteers around the country to organize and host a book delivery via bicycle in their own city. So far, in 2014, the following cities are hosting a ride: Nashville, TN; Denver, CO; Edwardsville, IL; Grand Rapids, MI; New York, NY; Murfreesboro, TN; Chattanooga, TN; Fort Collins, CO; Carson City, NV; Phoenix, AZ; Knoxville, TN; Tulsa, OK; Philadelphia, PA; and Durango, CO. To find out how to add your city to the list, read more here.

If you’re not a rider but you’d still like to help sort books – or anything else – you can sign up for the volunteer newsletter.

You can make a donation online. If you are in Tennessee, you can drop off new or used books at local businesses including REI and a number of bike shops. To find a list of participating businesses, check out this list.

You can also show your by purchasing a Ride for Reading Polar Water Bottle; for every Benefit Series bottle sold, Polar Bottle donates $5.00 to the cause the bottle represents. Team Kits are also available for 2014.

As always, you want to make sure that your donation is going to a qualified charitable organization. A search using the IRS’ Exempt Organizations Select Check reveals that Ride for Reading is on the IRS list of qualified charitable organizations. To find out more about the work of the organization, check out their website, follow them on Twitter or like them on Facebook.

As we go along this month, I encourage you to check out the charities that made our list this year:

Remember, submissions to the 12 Days of Charitable Giving are made by readers and in most cases, I can’t personally vouch for the good work that these folks do. So be generous. But be smart. Do your homework.

For more on the tax considerations in making charitable donations, check out some of these prior posts:

Want more taxgirl goodness? Pick your poison: You can receive posts by email, follow me on twitter (@taxgirl) hang out with me on Facebook and check out my YouTube channel. You can also subscribe to the podcast on the site or via iTunes (it’s free).

Source: Forbes

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