D ear readers: This is a time to celebrate and to give, and in the spirit of the season I present my annual round-up of charitable organizations readers should consider supporting.
Your donation may go farther at a small local nonprofit than at a large charity, though “buying in” to the work of any organization gives a deserved sense of stewardship over the worthy work they do. All contributions count. So do nonmonetary acts of kindness, such as shoveling a neighbor’s walk or bringing a casserole to a grieving person.
This is a subjective list, based on my own interests. Your own giving should reflect your interests and values. Most (but not all) of the organizations listed below have a top (four star) rating on Charitynavigator.org, which is an excellent source for researching a charity.
• Doctors Without Borders (Doctorswithoutborders.org): DWB-USA is an international medical humanitarian organization that provides aid in nearly 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters, malnutrition or exclusion from health care.
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• Refugees International (Refugeesinternational.org): There are an estimated 51.2 million refugees and internally displaced people and 10 million stateless people living in limbo without citizenship rights around the world. Refugees International sends teams to locate and survey displaced populations and is an effective advocate for people who have no voice.
• Save the Children (Savethechildren.org): When disaster strikes around the world, Save the Children is there with food, medical care and education and remains to help communities rebuild through long-term recovery programs. The website has a cool gift catalog where purchases help fund the organization’s worthy mission.
• Shelterbox USA (Shelterboxusa.org): What a simple idea – package a “box” containing lifesaving supplies and ship it quickly where it is needed. Since 2000, the organization has delivered boxes of aid and other supplies such as tents, water filters, stoves, blankets and other tools to help families survive and rebuild their lives in the aftermath of more than 200 disasters in over 90 countries worldwide.
• Feeding America (Feedingamerica.org): Feeding America is the national network of local food banks, providing food to more than 46 million people through 60,000 food pantries and meal programs. Consider donating and/or volunteering at your local food bank.
• Donors Choose (Donorschoose.org): If, like me, you are in awe of and want to support the hard work teachers do, find a project on the Donors Choose website to fund. Teachers post detailed and inspiring appeals to purchase art supplies, musical instruments, or innovative programs and experiences, accompanied by photos of their students.
• Homes for Our Troops (Hfotusa.org): One of my favorite organizations, this group raises money and then turns the funds into concrete action, building a new home or adapting an existing home for handicapped accessibility. The finished home is then given to a disabled veteran. All services and materials are donated.
• Fisher House Foundation (Fisherhouse.org): When service members are wounded and require long-term care and rehabilitation, what happens to their families? Fisher Houses are large and lovely homes built within proximity to medical centers, providing comfortable housing and services so family members can stay long term and support their loved ones during the long journey home.
• The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation (Mhopus.org): A sentimental favorite of mine, this small charity provides musical instruments to schoolchildren. Their mission makes this band geek’s heart sing.