Letters To The Editor 12-20-12



To the Editor:

We love Christmas. Celebrating the birth of Jesus and the anticipated arrival of Santa is so much fun.

We decorate our yard and every year budget to buy something new. This year we splurged a bit and bought an air blown Santa riding a motorcycle since we also like to ride one. We placed the nativity on one side of the driveway and motorcycle Santa on the other. With all of the other features, we thought it looked perfect.

Looking forward to getting home from work and seeing the decorations, to my dismay, Santa was not there. His spotlight was shining at nothing. Someone had stolen him from our yard. They cut the ropes and ripped him from the ground.

We don’t know if it was a personal attack or just a thief. We probably will never know.

The sad thing is, no one cares if it is your property or something left on the street. If they want it, they just take it.

If the thief thinks it has ruined our Christmas, he is way wrong. It was just a very cool, costly ornament. We will replace it next year with something, hopefully, not worth stealing.

People who take what does not belong to them, in the end, will be sorry. I am sorry for them.

Merry Christmas to all.

Debbie Robinson

Town of Patriot

Lives lost

To the Editor:

We lost precious lives.

There is a vast difference between a hunter and someone enraged and using an automatic weapon.

Friends, it is high time we address this problem before another tragedy happens.

We love our children.

Jim and Johanna Welch


Soldier’s thoughts

To the Editor:

Here is a poem written by a soldier for the Christmas season. My niece in Arizona sent it to me and I thoght your readers would like it as much as I did.

Ruth Osborn



Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,

in a one bedroom house made of plaster and stone.

I had come down the chimney with presents to give,

and to see just who in this home did live.

I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,

no tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.

No stocking by mantle, just boots filled with sand,

and on the wall pictures of far distant lands.

With medals and badges, awards of all kinds,

a sobering thought came to my mind.

For this house was different, so dark and so dreary,

the home of a soldier, now I could see clearly.

The soldier lay sleeping, silent, alone,

curled up on the floor in this one bedroom home.

The face was so gentle, the room in such disorder,

not how I pictured a United States soldier.

Was this the hero of whom I’d just read?

Curled up on a poncho, the floor for a bed?

I realized the families that I saw this night,

owed their lives to these soldiers who were willing to fight.

Soon round the world, the children would play,

and grownups would celebrate a bright Christmas day.

They all enjoyed freedom each month of the year,

because of the soldiers, like the one lying here.

I could’t help wonder how many lay alone,

on a cold Christmas eve in a land far from home.

The very thought brought a tear to my eye,

I dropped to my knees and started to cry.

The soldier awakened and I heard a rough voice,

“Santa don’t cry, this life is my choice;

I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more,

my life is my God, my country, my corps.”

The soldier rolled over and soon drifted to sleep,

I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep.

I kept wach for hours, so silent and still,

and we both shivered from the cold evening’s chill.

I didn’t want to leave on that cold, dark, night,

this guardian of honor so willing to fight.

Then the soldier rolled over, with a voice soft and pure,

whispered, “Carry on Santa, it’s Christmas day, all is secure.”

One look at my watch, and I knew he was right.

“Merry Christmas my friend, and to all a good night.”

Bu Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt


Taxable giving

To the Editor:

As we are in the season of year-end giving, we thought it appropriate to offer a reminder regarding charitable contribution substantiation and acknowledgment requirements. The importance of this issue was highlighted earlier this year in a tax court case in which donors were denied a charitable deduction because they did not receive a proper contemporaneous acknowledgment from the recipient organization. 

In Durden v. Commissioner, TC Memo 2012-140 (May 17, 2012), a couple claimed a deduction of $25,171 for a contribution made to their church in 2007. Although the church sent a letter of acknowledgment in January 2008, the acknowledgment did not include language indicating whether goods or services were provided in exchange for the contribution. The IRS disallowed the claimed charitable deduction because the acknowledgment lacked this statement. The church issued a subsequent acknowledgment with the appropriate language in 2009, but the IRS did not accept this second acknowledgment because it was not contemporaneous (it was not received by the due date for filing their return). The tax court agreed with the IRS, holding that the couple failed to comply with the substantiation requirements of Section 170(f)(8) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (Code).

Although there is no penalty for organizations failing to provide an acknowledgment, recipient organizations will nonetheless want to assist their donors by providing acknowledgments that comply with IRS requirements. In this regard, organizations often want to honor donors with handwritten thank-you notes and other personal touches, but it is critically important that any such notes are accompanied by more formal written statements containing necessary language.  Pursuant to Code section 170(f)(8)(B) and the corresponding United States Treasury Regulations, a donor may not claim a deduction for any contribution of $250 or more, unless he or she substantiates the contribution by a contemporaneous written acknowledgment that includes the following information:

– The amount of a cash contribution or a description (but not the value) of a non-cash contribution. 

– Whether the donee organization provided any goods or services in consideration, in whole or in part, for the contribution.

-If goods or services were provided in consideration for the contribution: (i) a description and good faith estimate of the value of any goods or services; or (ii)  a statement that such goods or services consist solely of intangible religious benefits. (“Intangible religious benefit” means a benefit provided by an organization organized exclusively for religious purposes and which generally is not sold in a commercial transaction outside the donative context.)

The organization can provide a separate acknowledgment for each single contribution of $250 or more or one acknowledgment (e.g., an annual summary of single contributions of $250 or more).   There is no set form for acknowledgments. As such, acknowledgments can be made in the form of a letter, postcard or computer-generated form, and may be transmitted to the donor through paper or electronic means. In order for an acknowledgment to be considered contemporaneous with a contribution, a donor must receive the acknowledgment by the earlier of: (i) the date on which the donor actually files his or her federal income tax return for the year of the contribution; or (ii) the due date (including extensions) of the return.  

More information regarding substantiation and disclosure requirements, including Publication 1771, Charitable Contributions: Substantiation & Disclosure Requirements, can be found on the IRS website.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Safe New Year.  


   Pam Acton

Community Foundation of Switzerland County, Inc.