Christmas wishes for many children frequently involve things that are fun and flashy, cool and hip, or maybe loud and fast. And for adults, often the impractical (or what some might also call “re-gifts”).
Well, here’s a very practical gift idea that is guaranteed to satisfy the wish-lists of members of both demographics: make a tax credit contribution for Catholic schools.
Making that year-end tax credit contribution yields a charitable gift that builds a lasting legacy of academic and moral excellence which benefits all members of our community — and comes back to the giver as a dollar-for-dollar tax credit against any taxes otherwise owed. So it’s not like it actually costs anything to give, but oh, what a gift it is for our recipients.
Admittedly it’s a bit hard to wrap, but there will be no shortage of celebrating when Mom or Dad opens that scholarship award letter that will be coming in the mail next spring to that family in need.
“Congratulations! We are pleased to announce your child has received a scholarship award for the 2014/15 school year in the amount of…”
Talk about “tidings of great joy.”
Letters with similar greetings were mailed out to 5,534 students earlier this year — children that are now sitting in seats in Catholic schools where they are encouraged and assisted to grow mentally, physically and, of course, spiritually.
We say “of course” because only in a Catholic school are children truly free to explore and learn fully the truth about who they are as creatures made in the image and likeness of a loving God.
Only in a Catholic school can their faith in God and their love for Jesus, Mary and the saints be nourished, practiced and indeed celebrated in a grace-filled community.
Only in a Catholic school can we even dare to talk about “Truth,” which is not a set of formulas, treatises or propositions, but a person — the Second Person of the Trinity and the Son of God, Jesus Christ Himself.
These hallmarks of a Catholic education may have been abundant and widely present back when many of us more “seasoned citizens” grew up, but they certainly cannot be taken for granted in today’s educational arena. Our Catholic schools still deliver on the promises of faith, hope and love for this generation and generations to come.
The moral need in our society is great — but by supporting the tax credit for Catholic schools you can help shape the future by supporting quality education today. Today’s children really are tomorrow’s leaders, and Catholic schools are shaping our young people to be conscientious citizens who are concerned for their neighbors and committed to serve.
The financial need is great, too. Many Catholics are surprised to learn that 44 percent of the nearly 13,000 K-12 students in Diocese of Phoenix Catholic schools qualified for and received financial aid this year from Catholic Education Arizona, the state’s largest provider of K-12 private school tuition.
Which brings us back to our gift suggestion for all tax-paying Catholics to seriously consider.
It is not easy to afford a Catholic education these days for a lot of reasons. The economy is challenging, the schools are now almost entirely lay-led which means the need to pay suitable lay-person salaries, and of course there is not government funding to pay for private schools.
But thankfully the State of Arizona has made a wise decision in this regard by allowing individual taxpayers like you and me to redirect up to 100 percent of our state tax dollars (up to $2,062 for married couples and $1,031 for singles) to support lower-income families desiring to send their children to Catholic schools.
Taking advantage of the credit is like turning lemons — your tax dollars — into lemonade, and then pouring a tall cool glass for a thirsty young boy or girl and his or her family. (Yes, I know we’re talking about Christmas, but this is Arizona!)
So this Christmas let’s not get caught up in the materialism and consumerism that often inundates our consciousness. Instead, let’s find meaningful ways to help our neighbor and our community.
Tax credits for Catholic education are that gift worth giving. And receiving.