Charity at home

Published 8:29 pm Monday, January 6, 2014

There’s a lot to be said for the old saw that charity begins at home. The best and most effective philanthropy is that which is closest to its intended beneficiary.

That’s why an organization like the Suffolk Foundation is so important. The Suffolk Foundation is, according to its mission statement, devoted to building a better community through charitable giving. Its efforts are focused on Suffolk and the surrounding areas, and the funds that support those efforts are raised primarily from grants, trusts and other donations from people who live and work right here.

After incorporating in 2006, the Suffolk Foundation became fully operational in late 2007. It would find itself on the front lines of local philanthropy just a few months later, as its officials worked to provide emergency grants to organizations such as the Salvation Army, Mercy Chefs, God’s Pit Crew, Samaritan’s Purse and Suffolk’s Open Door Church, all of which were providing aid to the many people injured and displaced by the city’s devastating 2008 tornado.

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Since then, the organization has funded grants for everything from college scholarships to an emergency generator for the new Salvation Army building. Each of the grant recipients and each of the causes supported has been homegrown in nature and local in scope. It’s a true example of neighbors finding a way to help their neighbors.

And one of those neighbors who has received unsought but completely appropriate recognition is Angus I. Hines Jr., who gave what was until recently an anonymous gift to get the Suffolk Foundation started. In the ensuing years, Hines’ gift had become progressively less anonymous in the small-town atmosphere of Suffolk, and the Foundation did the right thing late last fall by honoring him for his contribution.

In a characteristically modest interview about the honor recently, he deflected praise for his contribution. “The community’s been good,” he said. “It’s a community effort.”

Charity — at least the good kind — really does begin at home.