How to pitch in a few bucks and get a sure payoff

Thursday, January 14, 2016

It's fun to dream about what you would have done with a half-billion dollars in Powerball winnings, but for the other 292 million of us, it's back to reality today.

After the cars, houses, boats, airplanes or other toys we would buy, most of us thought about the charities we could support.

Of course, a certain amount of charity is built into the state lottery system.

Since the Nebraska Lottery was established in 1993, lottery purchases have sent $169 million to the Education Innovation Fund, $94 million to the Nebraska Opportunity Grant Fund, $245 million to the Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund, $35 million to the Nebraska State Fair Support and Improvement Fund, and $13 million to the Compulsive Gamblers Assistance Fund.

It will take a little research to pass judgment on the effectiveness and appropriateness of each of those funds, especially the latter, but they should at least reassure ticket buyers that their expenditures are not a complete waste.

It does seem appropriate for lottery officials to recommend that players buy tickets using their "entertainment" money, although the contribution to the Compulsive Gamblers Assistance Fund is an admission that not all lottery ticket purchasers have their personal budgets under control.

If feeling good is one of the motives for your lottery purchase, perhaps there's a quicker way to obtain that positive feedback.

The Salvation Army, for example, collected $14,137 during the 2015 Bell Ringing Campaign, according to coordinator Traci Taylor, and well over 90 percent of those funds will go directly to assist local people as well as through projects like the back pack give away.

That is only one example of local charities that could use our help. There are many other opportunities to pitch in for organizations supporting youth and elderly, social and other worthy causes. Your church and service club can certainly use your help, and the warm feeling you get will certainly rival the temporary excitement you feel from that super long-shot chance at winning the lottery.

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