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EDITOR'S NOTE: This editorial first ran in December 2016. However, with the holiday season upon us, the editorial board felt it was one necessary to rerun.

With the calendar flipping to December, the holiday season is upon us. It's the time of get-togethers with friends and family, shopping for Christmas presents and, typically, donating to good causes.

Most charities across the country receive a high portion of their donations during the holiday season. And Madison County and Kentucky charities are no exception.

For most of us, the holidays bring the best out. However, there are others who look to take advantage of our generosity.

"Scammers often take advantage of consumers' holiday spirit, so it's especially important at this time of year to make sure you're working with a trustworthy business," said Kim Sweazy, director of operations for the Better Business Bureau of Central & Eastern Kentucky.

It's sad, but true. And with more charities and solicitors, it can sometimes be hard to separate those who are looking to do good and those who aren't.

There are ways we can protect ourselves and give to the right causes. We can check out several sites, such as charitynavigator.org, charitywatch.org, guidestar.org and give.org, to see if the organization requesting donations is truly a worthy cause. Those unsure can also contact the Office of the Attorney General.

Here are a few tips that can also help:

• Plan your giving in advance. Don't respond to mass charity solicitations or high pressure tactics.

• Choose a cause you care about. Before making a donation, think about the things you care about and decide if you want to support veterans, children, animals, hunger or other worthy causes. Consider if you want your donation to support a large or small, local, national or international charity.

• Decide your donation level. Donate an amount or level you are comfortable with, and seek out charities that provide services and results that match your giving goals.

• Research charities. Only donations made to qualified charities are tax-deductible. Donors who are not familiar with a charitable organization should verify their 501(c)(3) status and what percentage of their income goes to the charity's purpose.

• Watch out for imposters. Be very cautious of fake websites, social media ads and charities with similar sounding names or concepts. Make sure the website or mailing address you are sending your donation to is the correct, legitimate charity. Never wire money, use gift cards or cash to make a donation.

This holiday season, let's make sure we give to the deserving charities that truly need and rely on our donations. Don't let the "Grinch" steal your Christmas cheer -- and money.

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