WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — December is often referred to as “the season of giving.” There are many charities that could use your support this holiday season, but how can you make sure you’re making a safe contribution that gets to the people who need it?

If you’re in a position to donate money to a charity this holiday season, you’ll hear some pretty convincing pitches about overwhelming needs. But we should do our homework to make sure our donation has an impact.

“We are local musicians, music teachers, we are out to support live music and we are playing Christmas carols in the square as we’ve done for at least the past 15 years, playing for toys for tots all of the proceeds and donations go to the kids,” said Polka Bandski member of the Wyoming Valley Concert Band, Dan Van Why.

As members of the Wyoming Valley Concert Band and Polka Bandski play, donations pile up.

“Most people who come by will stop and say thank you and give a kind word or they are generous enough to give a monetary donation and at the end of the couple weeks that we are playing we will drive it right over to the Marines and give them the cash,” Van Why added.

While it’s the season of giving, it’s also peak time for scammers.

David Pedri, President, and CEO of the Luzerne Foundation say the best way to avoid scams is to give local and do your research.

“When it comes to donations, unfortunately, there’s some people out there that don’t have the best of intentions so what we always try to do at the Luzerne Foundation is trying to say give local. Actually, make the drive to the nonprofit, go on the website go on the Facebook page, see what people are doing locally right here in Luzerne County right here in Northeastern Pennsylvania and see what they’re doing,” said Pedri.

Before you give, the Department of State’s Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations says: ask who will benefit from your donation and if solicited in person and ask to see their identification.

There are also things to avoid when giving: never give to a charity you know nothing about. Don’t be fooled by a name that sounds like a well-known charity but isn’t the same organization.

But Pedri says don’t let the potential of scams stop you from giving.

“A quick google search, call us over here at the Luzerne Foundation. We are happy to point you in the right direction of some local people doing what we’re doing here on a daily basis,” Pedri explained.

Most importantly, never give credit card information or bank account numbers, and don’t feel pressured into giving on the spot. There’s plenty of time if you choose to give up this holiday season.

To learn more about the tips given by the PA Department of State to avoid charitable scams head over to their website.