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IN THE SPIRIT OF THE SEASON

If you've waited until the last minute to take advantage of the state's charitable tax credit, now's the time to get that donation to a nonprofit that helps people who are down on their luck.

Here's how it works: You give $200 (or $400 for a married couple filing jointly) to a charity that aids the working poor. Then you get the money back next year when you file your taxes. It's a way of directing some of your taxes directly to the nonprofits that help those in need. And those nonprofits need all the help they can get these days.

At the top of our list is the Community Food Bank, which serves struggling families in Pima, Santa Cruz, Cochise, Graham and Greenlee counties.

Bill Carnegie, president and CEO of the Community Food Bank, says the organization is seeing "many more people than we did last year."

Last month, about 226,000 people leaned on the Community Food Bank for help—twice as many as two years ago, says Carnegie. "The economy has really taken its toll on people here in Southern Arizona."

Besides cash donations, the Food Bank takes in nonperishable foods at collection points all over town. And if you ever feel like volunteering, you can sort and pack food boxes.

"Always in demand are peanut butter and low-sugar cereal," Carnegie says. "We like to make healthy food boxes, so we look for those things that might be a little more healthy for families in need."

Call 622-0525 for details on donating, or visit communityfoodbank.com.

The Primavera Foundation is also seeing a growing number of families that are down on their luck.

Peggy Hutchinson, executive director of Primavera, tells us the organization's rooms for emergency shelter are full this Christmas. The organization had to stop adding names to a waiting list after it filled up with 35 families in need of shelter.

While Primavera tries to find work for the people in their programs, jobs—in all fields—remain scarce.

And the calls for aid keep coming in, whether people need help to stave off foreclosure or get assistance with rent.

"In one two-hour sprint, we got 200 calls for rent assistance," Hutchinson says. "There's no way we can meet that demand."

To make a contribution to Primavera, call 623-5111, ext. 107, or go online to www.primavera.org. Drop off warm clothes, blankets, toiletries, housewares and food between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 702 S. Sixth Ave.

Speaking of needing shelter: There are more homeless teens than ever, says Teresa L. Baker, executive director of Youth on Their Own, which is now helping 500 students in Pima County schools who no longer can live with their parents.

Baker says there are dozens of reasons why teens end up on their own, including sexual or physical abuse in the home. "You just wouldn't believe the stories."

Youth on Their Own requires the kids getting help to maintain at least a C in every class. "We're not supporting kids who are drug addicts or gang members," Baker says.

Make a donation by calling Youth on Their Own at 293-1136.

There are plenty of other worthy candidates out there, including Emerge!, a nonprofit that offers shelters and support for victims of domestic violence (795-8001 ext. 7009); the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault (sacasa.org); the Educational Enrichment Foundation, which helps out Tucson Unified School District schools (325-8688); Habitat for Humanity (326-1217) and the Red Cross of Southern Arizona (319-3673).

Find a complete list of eligible agencies and more details about the working-poor tax credit at azdor.gov/TaxCredits/WorkingPoorTaxCredit.aspx.

In addition to the charitable tax credit, you can also give $200 (or $400 per couple) to a public or charter school and get the money back on your taxes, so consider that as well.

And, of course, there are a few nonprofits out there that don't qualify for the tax credit, but we think you ought to consider a contribution to them as well, because they make this town a better place (and you still get a tax deduction—just not a dollar-for-dollar credit):

• The Rialto Theatre Foundation has found itself in far too many legal squabbles in recent years, which makes it harder for them to do job No. 1: making sure this town rock 'n' rolls! The Rialto has some big plans in the upcoming year, including the construction of an outside patio where you'll be able to sip cocktails between sets. Become a Rialto member by calling 740-1000, or visiting rialtotheatre.com. You'll be given discounts on tickets, drinks and more.

• The Loft Cinema hit another new high this year with its first Loft Film Fest. But if you ask us, every week is a film festival at the Loft, which continues to be Tucson's best local theater. Support them with a membership that includes discounted tickets and free popcorn. Details: 322-LOFT or loftcinema.com.

KXCI FM 91.3 Community Radio continues to be an oasis of independence on Tucson's FM dial. Where else are you going to hear unique shows like Al Perry's Clambake, Kidd Squidd's Mystery Jukebox and Locals Only? Become a KXCI member and get a T-shirt, CD or other swag. Details at 623-1000 or KXCI.org.

Arizona Public Media brings you local perspectives, NPR programming and the PBS shows we love. You can make a contribution by calling 621-3808 or visiting azpm.org.


TH-TH-THAT'S ALL, FOLKS!

For the last 15 years or so, I've had the privilege and honor of appearing on KUAT Channel 6's Friday Roundtable to interview guests and talk about the week in review.

Last week was the final edition of the Friday Roundtable, as Arizona Public Media is revamping Arizona Illustrated in the wake of the departure of longtime host Bill Buckmaster.

I'd like to say thanks to the crew and staff at Arizona Illustrated for all their hard work over the years and express my gratitude to the folks out there who watched the show.

I'm looking forward to seeing what Michael Chihak, the former Tucson Citizen publisher, does with his new political show, Arizona Week, when it debuts in January. Who knows? I may even pop up on there from time to time.

Buckmaster did a first-rate job of building Arizona Illustrated up over his 23-year career at KUAT. Bill knows this town; he knows the newsmakers; he knows the issues—and he always plays it fair and down the line. I'm lucky to have had the chance to work with him over the years, and I wish him success with his new radio venture, Buckmaster, which will be launching at 9 a.m., Monday, Jan. 3, on KJLL AM 1330. The show repeats in the evening from 7 to 8 p.m.; you can find out more details about the program at buckmastershow.com.

I'll be joining Buckmaster and other members from the Roundtable on the Friday edition of the radio show, so be sure to tune in.

And we hear some buzz that a few of the commercial TV stations in this town might have some interest in picking up Buckmaster and the Roundtable gang for a half-hour public-affairs show—so you might not have seen the last of us yet.


Follow the Skinny scribe on Twitter: @nintzel

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