Home - Charity - I Gave Half of My U.S. Stimulus Check to Help Lithuania Fight COVID-19 – And You Can, Too!
Gediminas Prospect in Vilnius is deserted as Lithuanians heed the stay-at-home order to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

I Gave Half of My U.S. Stimulus Check to Help Lithuania Fight COVID-19 – And You Can, Too!

Sandy Baksys.

As of this writing, Lithuania has more than 800 coronavirus cases. And like every other country in the world, Lithuania has widespread shortages of crucial medical supplies. Most of its businesses are shuttered, just like ours – and most of its population is at home instead of work.

The long-term medical, economic, and social impacts of this pandemic are as unknowable today as the number of lives it will take. But I do know that Lithuania will have to face whatever comes without the vast resources available to us here in the United States.

That’s why I decided to advance at least half of my $1,200 U.S. government stimulus check for emergency Covid-19 aid to Lithuanian hospitals, healthcare workers, patients, and families.

And, thanks to the Kazickas Family Foundation (KFF), on March 27, I was able to do just that without bank wire and other transactional fees–and with 100 percent “Schedule A” U.S. tax deductibility.

Sandy Baksys.

From my first contact with Neila Baumiliene, executive director of KFF’s New York City office, I learned that this is just the kind of philanthropic leadership that the Kazickas Family Foundation is well-positioned to provide in response to the deepening medical and social welfare crises looming over the Lithuanian people.

I was particularly excited to hear of KFF’s March 26 launch of a Donate button on its website for U.S.-based, fee-free  Covid-19 giving. (I had already struggled for days with how to get my planned donation across the Atlantic quickly, and into the right hands.)

There are plenty of Lithuania-based charities out there—don’t get me wrong. However, there isn’t always a U.S. nonprofit with reputable, on-the-ground Lithuanian charity contacts, operational expertise, and accountability to channel donations from the United States. KFF has all that, plus the one thing many of the biggest U.S. donors need most for their charitable giving:  tax-advantaged status.

Hopefully, by making U.S. Covid-19 giving to Lithuania no-cost and 100 percent tax-deductible, KFF will be able to unlock more giving, overall, than might occur if donors here were not able to access such a channel.

Online  Covid-19 Giving Made Easy

To make your donation to help Lithuania fight the coronavirus, just go to any page on the Kazickas Family Foundation’s website (www.kff.lt) and press the “Donate” button at the upper right corner. A dedicated “Donate” page will open that displays a coronavirus message and a list of three charity types you can choose from.

The two social welfare options, including KFF’s “Youth Can” life skills and active lifestyle program for rural Lithuanian youth, “Save the Children Lithuania,” and “SOS Children’s Villages,” are charities with which the Foundation has deep and longstanding ties through its staffers on the ground in Lithuania.

President of the Kazickas Family Foundation, Jurate Kazickas, with her brothers, all Directers of the Foundation. From left: Michael Vytautas Kazickas (foreground), Joseph Mindaugas Kazickas, Jūratė Kazickas, and John Algirdas Kazickas.

The third option, called Lithuanian “Health Care Institutions Charity Fund,” is the one I chose to fund emergency coronavirus medical aid. It was launched as a private Lithuanian foundation by former Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus and Lithuanian business leaders. Its purpose is to rapidly purchase and distribute essential medical supplies to Lithuanian healthcare workers and patients fighting the virus all under the expert guidance of physicians and hospitals on the frontlines, including Santaros Klinikos in Vilnius.

After you select which charity you want to donate to, just press the Donate button, again in the upper right corner of the page. Then fill in your amount, choose the charity’s name(s) from a drop-down menu, and plug in your credit or debit card or PayPal information.

Although my original cause was emergency healthcare Covid-19 aid, I ended up giving an equal amount to social welfare, split evenly between “Youth Can” and “Save the Children” and “SOS.” My reasoning? This pandemic is also putting terrific strains on families and children who are already disadvantaged and struggling. And the fact that KFF already supports these social welfare charities can only compound the impact of my individual donation.

So, if you also want to give to more than one of the charity types on the drop-down menu, just repeat the Donate process, each time selecting a different option from the drop-down list.

To donate by check, please make your check out to Kazickas Family Foundation, write your selected charity (from their list) in the memo line, and mail to:

Kazickas Family Foundation, 120 East 38th Street, New York, NY 10016.

My Earlier Attempt at Corona Virus Aid

The first Lithuanian  Covid-19 charity I donated to, based on Facebook references, was “Hold on, Doctors,” sponsored by Lithuanian “Laisves TV” and its famous host Andrius Tapinas. Right now, it’s the largest such medical aid charity by donations. It’s also reputable and dynamic with constantly updating reports on its collections and expenditures via the Web and social media.

However, as with many Lithuanian charities, it’s number one channel for giving by U.S. individuals was by international bank wire. The costs of wiring money internationally can eat up way too much of the underlying donation. So, when I mentioned that problem on Facebook, I was referred to what I thought was a U.S.-based PayPal entity to hopefully channel my donation to the Laisve TV fund at lower cost.

Ultimately, it cost me $125 to donate just 102 euros. And that big bite out of my donation didn’t just come from the exchange rate. PayPal took $9 for itself and its international transaction partners. And when I experimented with increasing the amount of my gift, those charges only went up.

This definitely makes KFF’s the superior online giving option. And KFF’s selected “Health Care Institutions Charity Fund” had been one of my top-two medical aid choices from the beginning. I just didn’t have any alternative to a costly bank wire before KFF opened up its fee-free, fully tax-deductible “Donate” option.

A Superior Giving Option

Please, think of the people of Lithuania and include Lithuania in your Covid-19 giving. In this emergency, we are also called to take care of our American neighbors and communities. But without us, who will help take care of Lithuania? Who else in this big, diverse country cares about Lithuania and its challenges?

Maybe think about giving the cost of just a couple of restaurant meals you have missed due to your new “stay at home” lifestyle. Or, if you don’t need all of your stimulus check, tap that as well – tap it in advance, like I did – and urge your relatives to match you, even (or especially) if they have too much income to qualify for a stimulus check. Make a contest out of it.

Jump online, go to www.kff.lt/Donate-1024.html and give! Post and Tweet this link to your family and friends. Together, we can make a difference.

Gediminas Prospect.