Few scenes capture the spirit of the holidays better than Norman Rockwell’s iconic oil painting Freedom from Want, featuring three generations of a family seated around a table about to enjoy a bountiful Thanksgiving dinner.            

It was one of four paintings Rockwell created during World War II to celebrate the four freedoms outlined by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 1941 State of the Union address:  Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear.

Whenever I see the Freedom from Want image in a magazine or on television — which happens a lot this time of year — I’m reminded of the blessings we enjoy here in Nevada County.   But I’m also reminded of the devastating Camp Fire that raged north of us, in Butte County, that has left in its wake thousands of homeless families who will not be huddling around their table this year for either Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

This is the time of year often referred to as the Giving Season –– a time when many worthwhile local charities and nonprofit organizations are raising money to help those less fortunate.  It’s also a time when organizations outside the county, and outside California, are soliciting donations.

Your snail mail and e-mail these days, like mine, probably includes several requests for donations, and that’s to be expected because each year between October and December, charities nationwide raise at least 25% of all funds they will collect that year.

And while here are many deserving state and national organizations to support, you might want to think about local organizations as well.


  • When you give locally, you can see exactly where your donation goes and what the organization does to make this a better community.
  • If you want, you can visit the office of the organization(s) you want to support and talk with the people who will be using your donation for a local cause –– something that isn’t possible when you donate to a national organization that often uses a large portion of its annual income for administrative costs.
  • When you give locally, you can write a check and not be concerned about having your credit card information fed into a system that might later be hacked by nefarious folks looking to take control of your bank account.
  • If you call the nonprofit office to learn more about their request for donations, you’ll be able to speak with someone who can answer your questions and not read from a script.

There are many other reasons to donate locally, but those are some that come to mind.  The difficult part of about donating to worthwhile local causes, of course, is trying to decide which ones to help, and to what extent you can afford to help them.

There are hundreds of worthy organizations in Nevada County, too many to name, but with over one hundred nonprofits in our membership we’re very acquainted with their worthy efforts, accomplishments and, value to the community.  If you are able to give during the Season of Giving, you and our community will be rewarded many times over, and your gift will be reinvested to benefit our community.

We are, after all, a family –– a community family that takes care of its own and supports those who need help.  We have been doing it since the Gold Rush, rebuilding after a series of fires in the 1850’s that more than once razed most of downtown Grass Valley and Nevada City.

And now we sit in front of our TV sets and watch an entire town burn to the ground in Butte County, with even more destruction predicted before it weakens.

While Butte County is not our next door neighbor, that fact is irrelevant. Our community at large, businesses, nonprofit and governmental agencies have rushed in to assist because giving has always been a way of life here.

We give when we can because we look at Nevada County as a big family with 100,00 members.  Yes, we’re a diverse family with 100,000 different opinions about almost any topic, but a family nevertheless.

Please keep that in your heart and mind as we enter the Season of Giving.