This year-end giving season is unlike any other.

Annually, 31% of giving occurs during DecemberHowever, this year, donors are already fatigued. Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and wildfires caused over $15 billion in damage as of October. Puerto Ricans have been living without full power since Hurricane Maria hit the island in September. Wildfires took the lives of 42 people, injured 7,700, and burned over 8,400 homes and buildings. Hurricane Harvey flooded Texas, dumping 27 trillion gallons of rain and leaving an estimated 30,000 people needing temporary shelter. As if that weren’t enough, violent tragedies in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs rocked the nation.

As is tradition, Americans rise up and come together to support those in need, with an outpouring of generosity to rebuild lives and communities.

Meanwhile, the House and Senate are working to pass a bill that could have devastating effects on the number of Americans eligible to write off charitable giving as a tax deduction. Of highest concern is doubling the standard deduction limit currently in place for taxpayers. According to IRS data, this would remove the tax incentive for an estimated $95 billion of annual charitable giving and reduce the number of itemizers from one-third of Americans to about five percent. This could reduce charitable giving by as much as$20 billion.

With all the needs in our country (and world), we can’t afford to lose billions in charitable giving. Now is the time to support the causes that matter most to you.

Read more on The Huffington Post.

Eight-year-old Gabriel Taye hanged himself with a necktie earlier this year.

A few days before this little boy took his own life, school video footage shows a classmate hurling Gabriel into the bathroom wall where the third grader was knocked unconscious. He laid on the floor for more than five minutes while multiple students walked by – some even poked his lifeless body.

Read more on The Huffington Post.

Related:

Everyone experiences fear. The fear of public speaking, failure, heights, darkness, small spaces — and, one of my all-time favorites — snakes. Just ask Indiana Jones. Fear comes in all sizes and shapes, and attacks despite our best efforts to ignore or avoid it. So, what makes you afraid?

We may not agree on politics, religion, or even favorite dessert (I like cannoli), but you will probably agree with me that you share the fear of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, Alzheimer’s is the most feared disease in America.

Read more on The Huffington Post.

I always included the PSA (prostate specific antigen) screening test in any routine physical because I knew that prostate cancer was one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths for men in the U.S., and my PSA numbers had been climbing. To be honest, I didn’t really give much thought to my personal risk of cancer. No one in my immediate family had ever had prostate cancer, and at the time of the biopsy, I was only in my mid-50s. Prostate cancer was a disease that only affected older men.

All my complacency was shattered when the doctor came in and started the conversation with words that would change my life: “Man, you have a lot of cancer in there!”

 

Read more on The Huffington Post.

My children were raised in a home where Elmo, Big Bird, and Oscar the Grouch were just another part of our family. Since 1969, Sesame Street has been reaching and teaching children all over the world with comedy, cartoons, games, and songs. More than just ABCs and counting, Sesame Street has influenced our perceptions about developmental psychology, early childhood education, and cultural diversity.

This month, with the addition of Julia, a new Muppet with autism, this long-running American cultural icon has taken another important step to increase the awareness and understanding of children who are “different,” specifically children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
The big question we need to be asking ourselves now is whether this unprecedented step forward is enough.

Read more on The Huffington Post.

It’s hard to know where to begin with the current maelstrom swirling around the refugee crisis.

From Trump’s executive orders, to airport protests regarding refugee bans, to deterring terrorism and ISIS, to the Ninth Circuit Court’s ruling, this issue has become political dynamite. Politics instead of people.

Read more on The Huffington Post.

Related:

Since 2007, the month of January has been observed as Sex and Human Trafficking Awareness Month per presidential proclamation. Unfortunately the epidemic has only worsened. According to the International Labour Organizationat least 20 million people are enslaved today – more than at any time in human history.

Read more on The Huffington Post.

Esteban Santiago, who opened fire in the Fort Lauderdale airport last week, was only 26 years old. He was an Iraq war veteran who had received a general discharge from the military for unsatisfactory performance. He had recently undergone psychiatric evaluation after claiming he was hearing voices. The FBI had been involved. Santiago also had been accused of domestic disturbance, allegedly trying to strangle his girlfriend. Yet his gun was returned to him.

The signs were all there. But Santiago didn’t get the help he needed. This isn’t the first time this has happened. It certainly won’t be the last.

Read more on The Huffington Post.