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August 18, 2022

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j. patrick coolican:

Want to give a little? Here’s your chance

Black Friday 2010

Christopher DeVargas

Shoppers braved the cold for as long as 3 hours while waiting eagerly in line outside Toys R Us on Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010.

J. Patrick Coolican

J. Patrick Coolican

Black Friday is almost here. It’s a name with a convenient double meaning — the day when retailers finally begin to make money and are thus “in the black;” and a signifier for the dark night of the American soul, when our desire for cheap and expensive junk is laid bare.

Soon we’ll be inundated with images of people who look like refugees — the day after Thanksgiving, the biggest eating day of the year — as they stand in the cold and dark waiting to get into Best Buy and Target to buy the magical whosit at 40 percent off.

It’s not the season of fun and cheer — it’s the season of Xanax and brandy-filled eggnog.

Yes, to borrow a phrase, I’m a mean one, a heel, as cuddly as a cactus and charming as an eel.

But this year we have a competing event, one that will help the needy and the arts and the disabled and maybe lift us up all the while.

It’s called Nevada’s Big Give.

And it’s happening today! One day only!

Go to and choose among 400 nonprofits. 400 nonprofits! Everybody is doing it!

And if you act now, there are prizes! I said prizes! A dozen lucky donors will win a “Golden Ticket” and get to give another $1,000 to a charity of their choice!

OK, the organizers haven’t actually set it up as a competing event with Black Friday. In fact, they’re probably cringing at the way I have, but too bad — no one would read a column about giving to worthy nonprofits. Trust me, I’ve tried it.

Actually, last spring, Stacey Wedding, whose consulting firm is Professionals in Philanthropy, was chatting up friends and colleagues about how to help our beleaguered community.

“We asked, ‘What can we do to make giving fun, easy and accessible.’ People want to give back, but they don’t know where to begin,” she says.

And so, Nevada Gives was born. Wedding is the volunteer board president. They looked at other states and found an online giving day in Washington state and Minnesota and brought it here.

They chose a day near Thanksgiving, when people are feeling grateful and want to give but just need an easy way to do it.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and UNLV basketball coach Dave Rice pitched in, and United Way is the lead sponsor, though hundreds of people have contributed to get the word out and get the thing going.

So give $100. There are countless worthy causes.

I’m sure your 8-year-old will understand when you tell him you gave $100 to charity and so couldn’t afford the new Xbox.

For the record, I love Christmas and buy gifts for loved ones. This year, everyone is getting a weekend package at the Harmon at CityCenter.

For more on Black Friday and Christmas consumerism, check out the documentary “What Would Jesus Buy?”

I’ll be publishing a column or two between now and Thanksgiving, but this seems like an appropriate time to say thank you to my readers — even you know-nothing blowhards who insult me in the comments — and to note how grateful I am that I get to do this job in this city at this time. Peace.

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