The 2016 presidential election will go down as one of the most divisive in modern history, pitting mother against daughter, friend against friend, and even husband against wife. A couple of divorces are even known to have been spurred in Cherokee County by partisan politics.
While many area residents continue to hope for a positive outcome, on the national scene, there's already been one: A quarter of Americans say they'll be opening their wallets and hearts more often, and with greater generosity, when it comes to charities and nonprofit groups.
Harris Poll, commissioned by global humanitarian group CARE, conducted a survey of 2,054 adults a couple of weeks ago. The poll found 15 percent of Americans intend to give more, while 14 percent say they'll be logging more volunteer hours. Perhaps surprisingly, Millennials and Gen-Xers - ages 18-34 and 35-44, respectively - are twice as likely to step up support for charitable endeavors than those 45 and older.
The reason, most say, is because they believe one way they can drive change is by putting their money and muscle where their mouths are. And their concern stems from a belief that causes they care most about may be on the chopping block - not just because Donald Trump will be ascending the presidency, but because Republicans are again in control of both houses of Congress.
The biggest beneficiaries are groups that battle global poverty, focusing mainly on women and girls. Those include, in order: children's charities, entities promoting reproductive rights and family planning; environmental protection; and female empowerment. Close on the heels of these issues are health care, LGBT rights, race relations and international humanitarian aid and global poverty, among others.
On average, Americans who plan to give more say they'll up the ante by about 31 percent. Nearly a third say their spirit of generosity is directly related to the election outcome. College graduates are more likely to increase their donations than those without degrees. Many of the young people were disenchanted with the election results, mainly because such a large segment of them supported Bernie Sanders. And while some may have given up on the political process, others plan to stay engaged, and help improve society in whatever way they can.
This is good news on a global scale, but it can also be encouraging on the local level. Oklahomans don't have to wait for federal fallout to understand how funds can dry up; they've seen it happen to their state, and many want to do something about it. That was the prime motivator for the so-called "teacher tax"; the Legislature wasn't going to do anything to help teachers, so citizens felt they had to.
Though the initiative failed, it still shows many people are willing to pay more when an issue means something to them.
Now's the time to join the fray, and recommit to organizations that need your help. Last week, the Daily Press published a story about charitable giving for the holidays. We listed several organizations - Help-In-Crisis, Habitat for Humanity, Zoë Institute, Hope House, and Court Appointed Special Advocates - and we told you how to help. Other groups - the men's shelter, CARE Food Pantry, and local churches - also need money and volunteers. And there are always media entities like NPR, PBS, and organizations promoting the arts, which are under constant threat of funding loss.
Many would point out the founders never intended for government to fund charities, and that it's our civic duty to help where we can. That's especially important in a country where citizens enjoy many freedoms others don't have.
At this point, no one knows what the election might mean for "the least of these," but regardless of the outcome, area residents should immerse themselves in the spirit of this holiday season, and be as generous as they can. It won't just be the recipients who benefit, but also those who do the giving. That's a guarantee.