Since Arizona Credit for Kids tax contributions must be made before Dec. 31, 2007, time is growing short to participate in the highly worthwhile program that has proven in past years to be a much needed financial boost for our small, rural school district.
Doris Randall, of Pine-Strawberry school, says donations have been rolling in slowly, but she's hoping contributions pick up as the deadline nears.
Credit for Kids gives taxpayers a credit against their state income tax liability for donations to public or charter schools in Arizona.
For tax year 2007, the maximum credit is $200 for single filers and $400 for joint filers. Our school, and all others who receive donations, must use the donated funds to support extracurricular activities or character education programs. Taxpayers may specify which department will receive the funds.
Credit for Kids forms list many school programs o choose from including field projects, field trips, library club, fine arts, playground equipment, student leadership, athletic/P.E. programs, club/academic enrichments and the general fund.
To donate, you do not have to have children in school or live in the school district. You need only to be an Arizona state taxpayer.
The donation is taken as a tax credit when filing your state tax, and even if you owe no taxes, and paid at least $400 ($200 for individual taxpayers) you will receive a refund for the amount of your credit.
Last year Pine-Strawberry taxpayers donated a tidy $57,500 to our school, which represented more money per student than many larger districts in Arizona.
Our goal this year should be to surpass that mark and send a message around the state that Pine-Strawberry is a community that takes pride in our public schools and children.
The yearly donations will help our district purchase much needed items and services that may not be available in strapped tight M&O budgets.
Thanks to your generous support, Pine Strawberry School has an all-weather artificial turf sports field.
Last year, funds from "Credit for Kids" financed the installation of artificial turf on the softball field and the goal this year is to obtain donations to complete the remainder of the field.
Credit for Kids dollars also have paid for band instruments, portable staging platforms and risers, sound equipment, art equipment and supplies.
The sports teams have benefited with new uniforms and equipment. New science equipment has been purchased.
Field trips for all classrooms and various camps were funded.
Also, all classrooms now have Internet access, thanks to Credit for Kids.
What's great about Credit for Kids is that it costs taxpayers nothing -- it's a decision you make on your taxes. You can choose who you want to receive your dollars -- the schools or the Arizona Dept. of Revenue.
Thankfully, Pine-Strawberry residents have been opting to help our school district.
Remember, donations must be made by Dec. 31. For more information, call Pine-Strawberry School, (928) 476-3283.
Library a high country treasure
This may be the biggest little library in small town America.
Although the library building is only 2000 square feet, it houses all the services found in larger facilities.
Librarian Becky Waer recently finished reorganizing the shelves at the library.
"We are the first library in Gila County to combine fiction genres together.
"This means, western, mystery, science fiction are shelved together with our regular fiction titles.hese genres still have labels on the spine indicating the genre of the book."
Although exact numbers are not available, usage is definitely on the rise.
This is a system that works well for smaller libraries and many library patrons say they like the new system.
The library is also user friendly and comfortable.There are relaxing chairs in areas designated for reading and one corner is highlighted by a fireplace and a kettle that is always simmering.
Large print type books, from the Gila Country Library, are regularly rotated in and out.
The library has a large selection of audio books and DVDs.A selection of Playaways is also available.
For those unfamiliar with the Playaway, it is the newest format of audio which combines a wide variety of content with an easy to use player.
Now that the weather has turned cooler and we are spending more time inside, a visit to the library is in order. There is something there for everyone.
Library hours are: Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and is closed Sunday and Monday.
McNeeley fund-raiser best ever
Justice McNeeley Foundation spokesperson Katie Parks of Pine says the benefit held Nov. 3 was a hit, "It was the most successful one we've had yet."
The festivities, which included a quad poker run, volleyball and horseshoe tournaments, live band entertainment, raffles, auctions, giveaways and breakfast were held at the Rimside Grill, just south of Pine off the Beeline Highway.
The festivities, which started at 9 a.m. with the poker run, went on for most of the day and were attended by 150-plus persons.
Parks thanks everyone who helped sponsor the annual event which includes the band of Ron Gibson, that entertained free of charge.
The inaugural Justice McNeeley benefit was held in the fall of 2004.
The proceeds were used to buy then 5-year-old Justice a special wheelchair called a Go-Bot.
The boy suffers from spinal muscular atrophy -- a form of muscular dystrophy. The Go-Bot was needed because it was designed to greatly improve Justice's mobility over the standard wheelchair.
Following the first ever benefit, which included a quad poker run andhorseshoe and pool tournaments, organizers decided to continue the foundation with a goal of helping others in need.
"The money would stay right here in the community," said Christine Burba, one of the original McNeeley Foundation founders.
The foundation has recently received two applications to provide financial assistance to children and families in need.
"That's what we do, try to help," Parks said. For information, call (928) 476-2233.
Holiday help for the needy
During this holiday season, the food bank desperately needs donations of turkeys, hams or other nonperishable items for distribution on Dec. 20.
Take your donations to Strawberry Auto, Ponderosa Market,oose Mountain or call Jean (928) 476-3317 or Marti(928) 476-6469.
Kay Foster is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. Contact her with items for this column at (928) 476-2788 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.