Chicagoans give back while experts say to do research before donating on Giving Tuesday

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You waited in line on Black Friday, you used your digital devices on Cyber Monday, but Tuesday is about giving back. (WLS)

You waited in line on Black Friday, you used your digital devices on Cyber Monday, but Tuesday is about giving back.

MacCormac College students gave their time on Giving Tuesday at St. Columbanus.

"It's a time of giving, the holiday season. There are people out here that are not as fortunate as others," said student David Petty.

The parish's food pantry partners with organizations and never solicits directly to individuals.

"We would never be seeking cash or things like that. We're about trying to get more food and more clothes that we can get out to people," said Father Matthew O'Donnell of St. Columbanus Church.

Nine hundred non-profit organizations are verified through the ilgive.org website.

"As government retreats, as the demand for services increases, I think we're going through a real big change in how we fund and support these organizations," said Forefront CEO Eric Weinheimer.

Forty specialized staff from the Shedd Aquarium make up their Animal Response Team. This year, they helped two abandoned see otter pups in Alaska.

"We help them learn how to groom, we give them formula, they have a bottle every couple hours," said Elizabeth Braik of the Shedd Aquarium Animal Response Team.

Giving to the team helps them help sea creatures in trouble, including a baby beluga calf in Alaska who needs constant care.

"Having this team ready to go and ready to rescue, that's really what we're so excited about for Giving Tuesday," said Braik.

Generous Chicagoans are urged to take care where they donate, and if someone is pressuring you to make a donation or use a gift card to donate, that's a red flag.

"Fraudsters are always looking for anonymous payment mechanisms. That's why they use money transfers, they use pre-paid gift cards, they have started using iTunes gift cards and Amazon gift cards," said Todd Kossow of the Federal Trade Commission.

"It's unconventional, usually for charities to accept that kind of monetary contributions so that should give you a warning sign. We always suggest you deal with charities yourself directly," said Steve Bernas of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois.

Experts suggest you do your research even though Giving Tuesday ends Tuesday. Legitimate charities will be happy to get your donation anytime as the needs exist beyond one day.

At a time when state and federal funding is shrinking we hear the needs are growing. Last year, there was more than $300 billion in charitable giving, most of that from individuals.

The baby beluga will still need constant care, and the response team will be going to South Africa to help African penguins.

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