There's a day for giving thanks, and a day for getting deals. Now there's a day for giving back.

A new holiday tradition starts today.

"Giving Tuesday" - the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving - is the day designated to help launch the Christmas/winter holiday charitable giving season.

Organizers hope to get people excited about giving in the same way they might get excited about buying a laptop computer at a bargain price.

Giving Tuesday is the brainchild of the 92nd Street Y, a nonprofit cultural and community center in New York.

Giving Tuesday was created to celebrate the great American tradition of generosity - giving to a favorite charity.

More than 2,000 Giving Tuesday partners have come from all 50 states and are either registered nonprofits with a specific Giving Tuesday mission or they are for-profit businesses, schools, religious or community groups spearheading a project that will benefit at least one nonprofit.

The City of Hope, cancer research hospital and treatment center in Duarte was one of the first 100 organizations signed up for Giving Tuesday.

"We're just really excited to participate in the first national Giving Tuesday," said Emily Dubin Field, director of development for the City of Hope.

Field explained the City of Hope is offering four ways for community members to participate: Watch one of the two-minute videos, give blood at City of Hope, a monetary gift that will be matched by the 3M Company or give a hug to a cancer survivor.

"Of course dollars are extremely important but Tuesday is about giving in many ways," Field said.

Giving Tuesday is about giving back.

"Obviously, donations will help save lives and help local hospitals," said Don Escalante, spokesman for LifeStream, formerly the Blood Bank of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.

LifeStream, which provides blood products and services to more than 80 Southern California hospitals, has donor centers in San Bernardino, Victorville, Ontario and Riverside.

Charities also are hoping younger people will take part and are focusing their attention on younger donors via an array of social media outlets.

"This year LifeStream is encouraging high schools to host blood drives during the year to involve young people," Escalante said.

On Tuesday, blood donors will receive a special edition Giving Tuesday T-shirt.

"Hopefully, when they try donating and can bridge generations. Some of us are getting older, so they will have to step forward and fulfill the mail role because the need is not going away."

Mitch Bassion, director of development for The Los Angeles Conservancy, read about Giving Tuesday in "The Chronicle of Philanthropy" magazine and was attracted to the spirit of the event.

"We're a nonprofit about more than just money - we're about getting involved," Bassion said.

The Conservancy takes an active role in saving historic places in Greater Los Angeles.

Monetary donations go into the preservation advocacy fund to aid various projects.

Other ways to get involved include becoming a member, volunteering, writing a letter to a local congressperson related to a local project or taking a photo inside or near a favorite historical site in Los Angeles and posting it on Facebook.

"We're just a small grassroots organization, but we take pride in all we do," Bassion said.

In Claremont, a group of generous donors will match all of Tuesday's donations dollar for dollar at Pitzer College, one of the Claremont Colleges.

According to its website, Pitzer College's Giving Tuesday Campaign will provide alumni, parents and friends of the college an opportunity to maximize their philanthropic impact.

"Students know it's not about making a large level gift, it's about participating in giving back to an organization you care about," said Michael Spicer, director of annual and leadership giving at Pitzer.

Students plan to spread the word through Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets.

"We have `Black Friday,' `Cyber Monday' and now `Giving Tuesday.' Isn't it nice to have a day set aside for thinking of others," Spicer said.

Social media - #GivingTuesday


Reach Michel via email, find her on Twitter @michelnolan, or call her at 909-386-3859.
Reach Diana via email, or call her at 909-483-9381.