Morning Brief: Passing Up Holiday Parties

The holiday spirit is touching some local companies and organizations. Staff writer William Wan reports today that some of these companies have foregone fancy holiday parties and canceled their fruit baskets to clients, instead funneling the money to local food banks for the needy.

Such donations have come from a variety of sources, from individual employees sacrificing holiday bonuses to the International Monetary Fund canceling its annual dinner to give an extra $13,000 to local food banks.

"It's amazing what's happening out there," said Kasandra Gunter Robinson of the Capital Area Food Bank. "It just shows you there are people still trying to do their part."

In more holiday news, gift cards are quickly becoming a major source of holiday donations to nonprofit groups. The Bethesda-based nonprofit Network for Good offers "Good Cards," which can be applied to any of the 1.5 million registered charities in the United States, according to a story Friday by staff writer Megan Greenwell. The group sells 500 a day, a number chief executive Bill Strathmann expects to grow through the holidays.

Janella Franklin, for example, agonized over whether a close friend would rather support the Nature Conservancy or the Denver Zoo. She had settled on a charitable donation as her friend's birthday present, but the options seemed endless. So she turned to the gift card.

In local budget news:

Declining tax revenue has forced Virginia transportation officials to again cut the number of projects to be funded in the next six years, but Northern Virginia will be spared from the most severe cuts this time around.

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett unveiled a plan on Thursday that he said would help jump-start the local economy and boost small businesses during the deepening recession.

And D.C. officials plan to announce Friday that they are facing a new budget shortfall of $127 million that could require another round of cuts to a budget that has already been trimmed in affordable housing, health care and transportation, according to city government sources.

By Alejandro Lazo  |  December 19, 2008; 9:13 AM ET  | Category:  Economy Watch , Morning Brief
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