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Charitable Donations

August 20, 1994

* Re "When $25,000 Was Insignificant," Commentary, Aug. 5:

Despite Carole Wade's experience, it is obvious she is still more interested in hobnobbing with high-rollers than in finding a worthwhile charity for her money. Her efforts to give an "insignificant" $25,000 to a hospital (calling the most prestigious hospital in Los Angeles a charity is stretching the term anyway) were met with disdain.

She didn't try very hard to give the money away. Every organization I raised money for through the 1980s from United Way to the Cultural Foundation of the San Fernando Valley would have been ecstatic to receive her gift.

Ms. Wade, the real problem, why Los Angeles lags the nation in charitable giving, is not "exclusion." The reasons include our hurting, fractured and extraordinarily diverse economy, our lack of central leadership and our lack of a widespread culture of giving. Involving the children of the "old money" is another elitist solution that won't address our fundamental problem of getting a broad base of small business and personal contributions.

If Wade can get over the hurt of being snubbed for a "small" contribution and the wrong address, she can find hundreds of truly worthwhile charities doing the day-to-day work necessary to keep our society together.

ROSS HOPKINS

Canoga Park

* This article would have better served the public had Wade named the hospital so that, in turn, we could petition that institution to lower its fees. Apparently it has more than enough money.

Lest the charity-giving public think that this is a normal procedure, I, as a professional in the social service field for almost 30 years, can tell you that no gift is insignificant ! Every penny and every dollar given to charity is much needed. Most service providers do not have major donors of the type described in the article, but rather, count on the $25 to $100 donors to be able to stay in existence and work to meet the needs of others. Funding is indeed going down, making every gift, no matter how small, that much more important.

I would like to add that Wade's inferences about the rich, exclusionist, Escada-ensembled donors is way too wide a generalization. These people also have a place in the world of charity fund-raising--they give and they encourage others to give. Many work harder at fund-raising than others do at paid jobs. Their intentions are good.

In philanthropy, no one and no gift are too small or too large; all are significant. Each of us has a role to play in helping to alleviate pain and misery among our fellow human beings.

MICHELE A. SMOLLAR

Executive Director

People Assisting the Homeless

Los Angeles

* Your July 20 article, "Charities Find L.A. Is a Challenge," was quite disappointing in its content, but even more disappointing in its omission. The article neglected to highlight the many positive philanthropic activities that continue in the Los Angeles area day in and day out. In particular, the response from the Japanese business community of Los Angeles in terms of charitable contributions has accounted for badly needed moneys for special programs for disaster relief and substantial time volunteered to schools, civic associations and other organizations.

As president of Nippondenso of Los Angeles Inc. and the Japan Business Assn. of Southern California, I have seen firsthand the tremendous financial contributions, volunteer efforts, in-kind resources and emotional stock donated by companies and individuals to the Los Angeles Unified School District, job training centers, literacy programs and many other programs, as well as relief following a series of natural disasters.

Indeed, there has been little credit given to donations of companies like Mitsubishi, Toyota and hundreds of Japanese-American companies whose contributions total into the millions of dollars and help create jobs and fund community centers and programs.

Sadly, there still exists a great need for continued support for the work done by civic and community organizations, but that work will be harder to continue without recognition given to those companies and associations making a difference in their local communities.

KAZUNORI KEN AMANO

Los Angeles

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