It’s the fourth day of our 12 Days of Charitable Giving! In December, I’ll be focusing on twelve charitable organizations that my readers have nominated as most deserving of your charitable donation. You have a couple more weeks to squeeze in your charitable deduction for tax purposes in 2014 – so why not consider one of our twelve?

Today’s featured charity is Pet Food Pantry of Eastern North Carolina.

The Pet Food Pantry was established to help prevent the abandonment or surrender of animals when their families cannot afford to feed them. The organization understands that during difficult economic times, some families – those who have lost a job, are dealing with an illness or disability, or are hit with an unexpected medical emergency or high electric bill – are forced to decide between feeding themselves and feeding their pets.

The Pet Food Pantry offers temporary pet food assistance program to provide help through difficult economic times. Assistance is income-based.

So how can you help?

The Pet Food Pantry encourages groups and individuals to organize pet food drives to collect food and supplies. Remember that you can’t deduct the cost of the time you spend as a volunteer (even if you can put a value on your time) but you can deduct related out of pocket expenses. For example, money spent to promote a pet food drive, including advertising expenses, as well as costs spent on supplies for the pet food drive would be deductible. Get receipts and document appropriately.

You can make a cash or credit card donation online. You can also send a donation by mail:
Pet Food Pantry
PO Box 2492
Greenville, NC 27836

In order to help control pet populations and promote responsible pet ownership, Pet Food Pantry requires that all pets in the monthly assistance program be spayed or neutered. For those who can’t afford the procedure, Pet Food Pantry provides assistance, including surgery and paid medications, when funds are available. If you’d like to help, you can earmark your donation for the spay/neuter program – just write spay/neuter in the memo section of your check (or online).

In addition to cash donations, Pet Food Pantry also appreciates in-kind donations, including dry or wet cat food and cat litter. You can find a wish list for donations here.

Remember to value donations of non-cash items for tax purposes. If you donate unopened bags of food or litter or other new pet supplies, for example, save your store receipts as support documentation. Any used items should be valued at thrift shop values or other appropriate value.

No matter whether you donate cash or in-kind items, be sure to get a receipt from Pet Food Pantry to confirm your donation for tax purposes.

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 Pet Food Pantry of Eastern North Carolina is on the list. To find out more about the work of the organization, check out their website, or like them on Facebook.

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.

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Kelly Erb is a tax attorney and tax writer.

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