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The Morton Family and The Morton Foundation

Tom and Helen MortonAt a recent Guide Dogs of America graduation, the school dedicated the new Tom and Helen Morton Graduation Area. At the dedication, Tom's son, Paul Morton, spoke about what sparked his father's interest in GDA almost 35 years ago - as well as why, eight years after his father's passing, the school continues to receive the generous support of Helen Morton, the Morton Family, the family's various business enterprises and its Foundation.

Tom Morton's interest in GDA started when one of his first clients, the Machinists Union, asked him to support the school by playing in its annual charity golf tournament. An avid golfer, Tom agreed to play. That day, he learned a lot about Guide Dogs of America and its program and he liked everything he saw. Tom's support of the school continued to grow over the years and, in 2001, he was honored with the Gift of Sight Award. His family continues that legacy of giving.

"My father was completely inspired by GDA and all of the people that make it work. He supported the cause because he believed in it," explained son Paul at the dedication. "Our family's support of the school has survived my father's passing and is the largest single annual donation we make to any one organization."

When the senior Morton passed away, there was nothing that said he wished his support of the school continue, but that is what the family has chosen to do. In fact, every year, the six siblings gather along with Helen Morton to evaluate Guide Dogs of America and all of the charities to which they give.

"'Feel good' is great, but there also has to be a 'do good' for us (The Morton Foundation) to consider an organization or cause," explained Morton. "We base our decisions on the intellectual reasons for giving. Is it run efficiently? Is it effective in its mission? Guide Dogs of America is exceptionally well run. They don't do frills. What they do is change lives. They are a great example of what it means to 'do good.'"

GDA President Dale Hartford approached Paul about the graduation area naming opportunity. "I thought it was a really good idea. They could have built something for two to three times the amount, but that is not GDA's style. The graduation area has been completely transformed with a new structure, stage, sound and lighting and it is perfect for the school. It is exactly what it should be and it's a very effective use of our donation. Our family is very proud to have the names Tom and Helen Morton on the new graduation area."

At the graduation, during which the new area was dedicated, Paul listened as all the graduates spoke and was reminded that they all come from different walks of life. No two arrive at the school with the same circumstances.

"One of the grads said, 'You know what we found despite our incredible differences? That we had fundamental things in common and that the loss of sight was the least of them. What we share is a desire to live a life with independence,'" recalled Paul. "Students don't come to the school asking, 'Please do something for me.' They are at the school because they want to do something for themselves. GDA lets its students know that they understand their situation and, if you are willing to work for your independence, we can help. It is an organization with great energy and a great compassion for helping people. That is the magic of Guide Dogs of America."

The Morton Family has been a proud GDA donor for more than three decades. For anyone considering making a gift to the school - in any amount - Paul, who was a Gift of Sight honoree recommends they go to a graduation.

"Go sit for an hour and watch 10 lives come to 'life' in front of you. You will understand how profound it is to give a dog as a partner to someone who is visually impaired. What a difference this is going to make in their lives."

For information about becoming a Partner in Trust, please contact Rhonda Bissell at 818-833-6432.

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Guide Dogs of America a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I, [name], of [city, state, ZIP], give, devise and bequeath to International Guiding Eyes, Inc., dba: Guide Dogs of America located at 13445 Glenoaks Blvd, Sylmar, CA 91342 [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose.”

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to GDA or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to GDA as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to GDA as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and GDA where you agree to make a gift to GDA and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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