12 Days of Charity 2014

It’s charity time again! For those who don’t know, every year I kick off December by spotlighting a dozen (or more) charitable organizations for your holiday giving consideration. I’ll be tweeting each day and updating this post with the additional charities as they pop up. (Okay, well, I often fall behind in updating, but they’ll get here eventually!)

This year, I decided to mix in several Atlanta-area and other local charities along with national/international organizations. Larger groups often get much more attention than smaller ones that can often make an even bigger difference locally. You’ll notice a theme emerging: several of the groups I’m highlighting are focused on helping the large number of homeless LGBT+ youth, which is a big area of concern for me, and for a lot of you, too.

Day 1: The Armorettes

I always select an AIDS-related charity for December 1, World AIDS Day. This year I’m highlighting The Armorettes, also known as the Infamous Camp Drag Queens of the South, a drag troupe based in Atlanta that has raised more than $2 million over the past 35 years to support people living with HIV/AIDS. The troupe performs twice a week and conducts various other fundraisers throughout the year. (They also inspired the drag troupe in my upcoming novel, Unfortunate Son.)

Day 2: Médecins Sans Frontières

Doctors Without Borders needs no introduction. This international humanitarian organization provides emergency medical aid wherever it’s needed, anywhere in the world. Its medical volunteers provide quality care to people in crisis, regardless of race, religion, or politics, often in dangerous areas and situations. Simply put, MSF saves lives.

Day 3: Dream Power Therapeutic Equestrian Center

My friend Alicia clued me in about this group. Dream Power offers therapeutic, sport, and recreational horseback riding to physically and mentally challenged clients of all ages. Around since 1993, the center serves metro Atlanta and nearby communities and is a member of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International.

Day 4: Partners In Health

Suggested by my friend Amy Jo, Partners In Health works to bring modern health care to the poor throughout the world. The organization started its work in Haiti in 1987 but has expanded to efforts in far-flung locations including Peru, Mexico, Rwanda, the Dominican Republic, Lesotho, and even the Navajo Nation in the United States. Partnerships organizations include PACT (USA), Possible (Nepal), Project Muso (Mali), Last Mile Health (Liberia), Village Health Works (Burundi), and Wellbody Alliance (Sierra Leone).

Day 5: Lost-n-Found Youth

Lost-n-Found Youth is a relatively new organization, in existence only since 2011, that’s done a huge amount of work already and has a set of ambitious goals yet to go. The organization’s goal is to get homeless LGBT+ youth in the Atlanta area off the streets and transitioned into permanent housing. LNFY operates a help hotline, a six-bed housing facility, and a host home program and is working to renovate a new location to expand its housing options.

Day 6: Reach Out and Read

My friend Ariel suggested Reach Out and Read, which works to promote literacy among young children from disadvantaged backgrounds. The organization is made up of medical providers who integrate literacy into pediatric practice by promoting children’s books and providing advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud. Founded in 1989, the organization now offers nearly 5,000 program sites nationwide that serve more than 4 million children.

Day 7: Pridelines Youth Services and the Alliance for GLBTQ Youth

My friend Lori suggested these Miami-area organizations. Pridelines was created by gay youth for gay youth and works to support and empower LGBT+ youth in South Florida. The Alliance for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Youth offers programs coordinated with service organizations throughout the Miami-Dade County area.

Day 8: The Wounded Warrior Project 

The Wounded Warrior Project’s mission statement is simple and straightforward: “To honor and empower Wounded Warriors.” The organization works to provide assistance to military service members and veterans who have suffered physical or mental injuries and to help them recover and adjust to life off the front lines. Founded after 9/11, WWP has served tens of thousands of service members and their families and continues to provide ongoing support.

Day 9: Project Fierce Chicago 

Founded in 2013, Project Fierce Chicago is working to provide identity-affirming transitional housing and other support services to homeless LGBT youth in the Chicago area. After a successful initial fundraising campaign, the organization is currently shopping for a location to set up housing for up to a dozen youth. (Also check out the Less Than Three Press anthology that’s raising funds to help!)

Day 10: SAGE

SAGE (Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Elders) focuses on assistance for older GLBT adults in the  United States. The organization works on many fronts, ranging from political advocacy to service provider training to direct services related to health and wellness, arts and culture, and more. Founded in 1978 as Senior Action in a Gay Environment, SAGE offers its programs at national and local levels, including 27 local affiliate groups in 20 states.

Day 11: Ali Forney Center

The Ali Forney Center offers housing and support services for LGBTQ youth in New York City. Founded in 2002, the organization provides medical and mental health services and career and educational counseling, as well as basic necessities like hot meals, showers, and clean clothing. A drop-in center and both short-term emergency housing and longer-term transitional housing are available.

Day 12: Forty to None Project

Last but certainly not least, and tying together a theme, is this organization that my friend Jeff pointed me toward. The Forty to None Project, part of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Fund, works to bring an end to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth homelessness nationwide. The name comes from the 40% of homeless youth who are LGBT+, with a goal of bringing that number down to zero.

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