Most of us just landed $1,400 in the bank. Make that $2,800 for a married couple thanks to the American Rescue Plan.

Even more so, families with children are about to begin receiving a monthly tax credit from the federal government of either $250 or $300, as well as an expanded Earned Income Credit on their 2021 tax return. This should take a big bite out of poverty.

This is not the “universal basic income” advocated by Andrew Yang way back during the Democratic presidential primary. The $1,400 is a shot in the arm. The child tax and Earned Income credits are longer lasting but still temporary.

The $1,400 payment is Covid relief that brings the recent two-check total to $2,000, the number once suggested by President Trump to the horror of his own party. It was a good idea.

Democrats are already lobbying to make the tax and Earned Income credits permanent. That sounds expensive.

As we think about this money from the government, it is worth taking a step back. Where can all this money be put to best be use?

How about spreading some of that wealth among our local non-profits?

Oh, sure, donations are no longer tax deductible for most people because the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 made itemizing illogical for most people.

Still, there are places you can donate.

Give a little more at church. Maybe help support a local volunteer fire company.

Send a donation to the food pantry in your neighborhood. There are five food pantries in Lockport, 10 in Niagara Falls and one in almost every town in the county. Addresses are online at www.foodpantries.org.

We wouldn't dream of telling people how to spend money, but we will always encourage spending money locally with family owned businesses. Maybe it is time for that new refrigerator or to replace a balky washing machine.

And if you fell behind on bills during the tough times of the past year, maybe these new funds will give you a chance to pay off some debt.

The crocuses are blooming. The sap is running. Within weeks we will have daffodils. Funds are being distributed. The number of people being vaccinated against COVID-19 increases daily. There is a sense of calm, confident leadership in the uppermost reaches of our government. Maybe, just maybe, this pandemic is about to go away. We have a lot for which to be thankful.

This guest editorial was originally published by the Niagara Gazette, a CNHI sister newspaper in Niagara Falls, New York, on March 17.

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