Washington President Bush announced $1 billion in federal aid to the homeless Tuesday and called on Americans to "dig a little deeper" and donate more to charities this holiday season.
"The generosity of this country will say to the world that we're a nation that will not be affected by terror and evil," Bush said during a visit to So Others Might Eat, an interfaith charity in Washington that serves the homeless 300,000 meals each year.
"In fact, we encourage good to overcome evil through our actions and deeds; not just our bravado, not just our waving of flags, but true actions and true compassionate acts of giving in order to make sure this nation remains whole and strong and complete," he said. "Government's got a responsibility as well. There is a role for the federal government in making sure that charitable organizations thrive and flourish."
President Clinton and Congress approved the $1 billion in aid last year, but the Housing and Urban Development Department is only now releasing it. Tuesday's announcement is the formal notice to 2,521 charities that vied for $941 million in competitive grants earlier this year. Cities and states faced with growing numbers of homeless will be able to tap into another $150 million in grants for emergency shelter.
On any given night in America more than 750,000 people are homeless, said Donald Whitehead, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless.
A recent survey by Independent Sector, an umbrella organization for nonprofit groups, found that 26 percent of Americans said they had stopped giving or had reduced the amount they gave to their usual charities because they gave instead to help victims of the terrorist attacks. And 48 percent said they would reduce their charitable contributions during the next six months if the economic slowdown worsens.
"I have been disturbed by reports that charitable giving has dropped off," Bush said. "I ask Americans to dig a little deeper in their pocket."
The White House announced that the president and first lady will appear in public service announcements dubbed the "Thanks for Giving" ad campaign thanking Americans for supporting charities and urging them to give more.
The commercials, filmed last week in the barn at Bush's ranch in Crawford, Tex., will start airing this week and run through the holidays.