In an effort to encourage Americans to give to charity during the holiday season, President Bush visited a Washington, D.C., soup kitchen earlier this week to announce that the Department of Housing and Urban Development will distribute more than $1 billion in grants to community-based nonprofit groups that help the homeless, the Associated Press reports.
The president used the occasion to express concern about reports that many small nonprofit groups are losing donations to September 11 relief efforts. A survey released by Independent Sector last month found that 26 percent of those who had donated to September 11 relief and recovery efforts planned to scale back or eliminate their giving to other charities, while nearly half of those surveyed said they would cut back on giving if the economy worsens in the next six months.
"I hope Americans will not substitute the gifts they've given in the aftermath of September 11 for neighborhood groups...or mentoring programs," said the president. "I ask Americans to dig a little deeper in their pockets. The generosity of this country will say to the world that we are a nation that will not be affected by terror and evil. We encourage good to overcome evil through our actions and deeds, not just our bravado, not just our waving a flag."
The president pointed out that the HUD grant is the largest ever given to aid the homeless and urged Congress to pass his faith-based bill, which includes a number of tax deductions for charitable donations, as a way of increasing giving.