Networks Promote Season of Giving

Amidst their reports on how to cut calories from Thanksgiving dinner, how to score the best early-bird deals for holiday shopping and tips for painless holiday travel, ABC, CBS and NBC managed to remember the spirit of giving this season

The broadcast networks highlighted 22 charities in their morning and evening shows throughout the month of November. Food-related charities made up seven of the 22 highlighted, while others focused on cancer research, housing, domestic violence and various other causes. NBC led the networks by noting 18 different charities.

Charity also worked its way into a parenting segment on NBC's “Today.” Family therapist Jenn Berman offered an easy way for parents to teach their children about the importance of giving back.

“If you are donating to a charity, bring your kids into it,” Berman told Meredith Vieira on Nov. 20. “Ask them, 'What charity do you think I should donate to?' Have a dinner conversation. Every month come up with $20 that you donate and ask your kids, 'Pitch me a charity. Where should we as a family donate?'”

And aside from providing an opportunity for families to give together, the focus on charities (almost certainly inadvertently) offered an alternative to the usual liberal assertion that government is the great solution to society's problems. In highlighting how much average people and private companies can do to alleviate suffering, the networks did viewers a great service.

Help from People


“Even folks going through hard times have reason to hope for a place at the table, thanks to their selfless neighbors in this land of plenty,” reported CBS's Charles Osgood on Nov. 22.

Osgood's report focused specifically on Feeding America, an organization that coordinates the delivery of food to food banks nationwide, but his words could apply to those who help the homeless find shelter and those who help researchers find better treatments for disease.

NBC's Brian Williams featured Bon Jovi's Soul Foundation in his “Nightly News” series, “Making a Difference.” The foundation assists in building affordable housing in New Jersey and its surrounding areas. Williams specifically mentioned the Genesis apartments in Newark, a Soul Foundation project that is now a 51-unit apartment building that also provides job training for low-income families and those with special needs.

“I'm a firm believer … in the power of 'we.' I really – I say that over and over. Government can't do it alone. The private sector can't do it alone,” Jersey rocker Jon Bon Jovi told Williams on Nov. 9. “But it – with the power of we, with people working together to find the ills that meet that needs – the needs of each individual in their respective places where they live and work, yeah, I do think that we can make a difference. I really do believe that.”  

Marlo Thomas, national outreach director for St. Jude's Research Hospital, echoed Bon Jovi's point about people working together during her Nov. 24 appearance on NBC's “Today.”

NBC's Ann Curry noted that the survival rate of a young girl with AT/RT, the most aggressive, rarest cancer a child can contract, is 70 percent at St Jude's, compared to only 25 percent at another hospital. “We get – about 72 percent of our money comes from the public, while regular hospitals that have a lot of paying customers get 8 percent,” Thomas explained. Thomas credited the resources given to St. Jude's for “bring[ing] the finest scientists, the finest international intellectual community all together to save these children.”

Country superstar Tim McGraw addressed the concept of paying kindness forward during a Nov. 13 “Nightly News” segment about the Neighbor's Keeper Fund, the charity he and his wife, singer Faith Hill, founded in 2004.

“I can remember growing up seeing a lot of times where we where in a position where we needed help from others. And I never forgot that,” McGraw told NBC's Amy Robach.

Networks didn't just look at celebrity causes but also highlighted the selfless work of private citizens.

ABC's Sam Champion emphasized the work of the Boy Scouts of America at Philadelphia's Thanksgiving Day parade. That organization accepted food donations during the month of November to help those in need.

“All day long, these guys are gonna be walking the parade route collecting food to make sure that we help the needy out,” Boy Scout official Mark Bryant told Champion. “We collected over two million pounds of food for the needy this year.”

Tim Hammack, a trained chef who chose to work at the Bay Area Rescue Mission in Richmon, California, appeared on the Nov. 23 “Nightly News.” Once a chef in the Napa Valley, Hammack told NBC's George Lewis he has stayed in his current position for eight years because he “was actually able to see people's lives change in a major impactful way.

“Just because we're a homeless shelter doesn't mean we have to just serve slop in a bowl,” Hammack explained. “A lot of these people are told every day that they're nothing and that they have no worth. And so to treat them with respect and love and give them a good meal that comes from the heart, I think is really important.”

Amy Guerrieri was another person featured on “Nightly News” Thanksgiving week. Her work in the Appalachian Mountains sparked the Rockin' Appalachian Mom Project (RAMP), which helps families in the area meet their needs.

“Pastor Elmer Harris and his wife Betty, who run the Homecoming Church in Inez [Kentucky], made an appeal for RAMP for kerosene heaters. They were hoping for 50, but Amy delivered enough to heat 100 homes this winter,” reported NBC's Robach.

ABC's Ron Claiborne briefly reported during the Nov. 28 “Good Morning America” that a Texas church gave $22,000 to its members to use for “random acts” of kindness.  “The Grace Church, near Houston is handing out envelopes filled with as much as $500 to churchgoers who are being asked to, asked to use the money to perform random acts,” he stated.

These stories are just a few of the many different ways people help others during the holiday season as well as throughout the rest of the year. They show that it only takes a giving heart and the determination to help others to make a difference in someone's life.

Corporate Help


Corporations are often labeled the “bad guys” by the media, but there's no doubt that corporations play a huge role in philanthropy. NBC even highlighted four different companies that lend their support to causes.

“Today's” special series, “Thanks and Giving,” which focused on the work of St. Jude's Hospital and ran Thanksgiving week, featured a segment that noted the hospital's partnership with the Target Corporation.

Target House is a multimillion-dollar facility available free for patients of St. Jude and their families if treatment lasts more than 90 days. It contains 96 fully-furnished two-bedroom apartments in addition to activity rooms.

After Thanksgiving, “Today's” philanthropic promotions turned to the program's annual toy drive. On Nov. 27, co-hosts Lester Holt and Natalie Morales noted the generosity of toy company Jakks Pacific, who has donated toys for the past nine years. Two days later, NBC's Jenna Wolfe praised United Media, a licensing company, for its donations.  

Actress Joan Cusack promoted the charity Cookies for Kids' Cancer, which raises money for cancer research through registered bake sales, during her Nov. 10 “Today” appearance. The Glad Product Company agreed to match all funds raised by Cookies for Kids' Cancer up to $100,000 during November and December, in addition to giving each registered bake sale a free package of GladWare.

What You Can Do


Current economic circumstances have increased the need for American citizens to help each other. CMI has put together a list of charities that would be glad to accept anything that you can offer.

Charities for Children

Toys for Tots

The Make-a-Wish Foundation

Boy Scouts of America

Support for Disabled People

Canine Companions

General Help/Support

Local churches

Local food banks

Salvation Army


Wounded Warrior Project



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