It’s charity time again! For those who don’t know, every year I kick off December with a dozen days of spotlighting various charitable organizations for your holiday giving consideration. I’ll be tweeting each day and updating this post with the additional charities as I go (or as soon as possible).
Diving right in this year…
Day 1, World AIDS Day
As always, I feature an HIV/AIDS-related charity for December 1, which is World AIDS Day. This year, I’m highlighting amfAR: the American Foundation for AIDS Research (Twitter: @amfar), which focuses its funding primarily on finding a cure. The organization also provides prevention and treatment services, works toward developing stronger policies to support research and care, and increase awareness.
Lakota Children’s Enrichment (Twitter: @Lakota_Children) was suggested by my author friend Sarah M. Anderson. The organization provides opportunities in the arts, education, sports, leadership and mentorship for children of the Lakota tribe in South Dakota and beyond. Their focus is on the Pine Ridge Reservation, where is around 80%, dropout rates above 60%, and the average reading level is fifth grade.
The International Rescue Committee (Twitter: @theIRC) focuses on refugees caught in humanitarian crises worldwide. Founded in 1933, the organization’s services include health care as well as economic and educational support for people in more than 40 countries. The IRC also helps resettle thousands of refugees each year in the United States.
The goal of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry network (Twitter: @nokidhungry) is right there in the name: fighting hunger among children. Their goal for the 2015 holiday season is to provide 10 million meals to kids in need. The organization works through various partnerships to connect children and families with school breakfast programs, summer meal programs, and assistance with food purchases. Their Cooking Matters program is designed to teach low-income families to stretch their food budgets and prepare healthy, low-cost meals.
My day job involves reading a lot about infectious diseases, and one of the most serious and widespread of those is malaria, which kills more than 1 million people a year worldwide. The Against Malaria Foundation (Twitter: @againstmalaria) is one of the organizations working to fight malaria by combating the source: mosquito bites. AMF buys bed nets impregnated with insecticide, which are proven to be effective in preventing mosquito bites and thus infections carried by those mosquitoes, including malaria. Each net costs less than $3 and can protect two people while they sleep for up to 4 years.
Children in the foster care system often own nothing more than the clothes on their backs. A relatively new organization, Comfort Cases (Twitter: @comfortcase) was founded to provide basic necessities to these kids in the Washington, DC area, providing them with things like a bag for their belongings, clothing, toiletries, stuffed animals, and other items, including both necessities and comforts. (You might recognize the founder; his daughter with his partner was the focus of a recent story in American Girl magazine that drew some controversy.)
A good friend lost his father to Alzheimer’s recently, so I wanted to highlight a charity that works both for support and research into the disease. There are a number of good organizations, but considering said friend is also a comedy writer, I thought Hilarity for Charity (Twitter @Hilar4Charity) would be the perfect fit. Led by comedian Seth Rogen, Hilarity for Charity organizes variety shows in Los Angeles that have raised more than $4 million to go toward care for patients, support for their families and caregivers, and research toward a cure. A newer initiative, HFC U, aims to help colleges organize their own events.
For an author, it goes without saying that literacy is always an important issue. Room to Read (Twitter: @RoomtoRead) is a triple bonus because it works to increase literacy among children in developing nations, provides books directly, and supports girls in particular. Room to Read teams work within each country to tailor services to fit local context so they have the biggest effects. The organization currently works in ten countries in Asia and Africa and is working to expand to a reach of 15 million children by 2020.
The You Will Rise Project (Twitter: @UWillRise) offers victims of bullying a venue to express themselves and tell their stories through multimedia art. Founded by Paul Richmond and Linda Regula, You Will Rise accepts submissions ranging from paintings to poems to videos. The goal is to foster creativity and pride through positive feedback and support.
The Fisher House Foundation (Twitter: @FisherHouseFdtn) provides lodging and travel help to families of injured military members and veterans. Built on a network of “comfort homes,” Fisher Houses provide suites for families to stay at no cost near their loved ones while they receive treatment. The organization also operates programs through which people can donate unused airline and hotel points to help provide travel support and additional lodging as needed, as well as grant and scholarship programs for families of military members and veterans.
Possibly the most adorable charity on this year’s list, Deaf Dogs Rock (Twitter: @DeafDogsRock) finds safe shelter and permanent homes for dogs who are deaf. These dogs can be particularly difficult to place, so this organization works to educate the public about adopting, caring for, and training deaf dogs, as well as finding permanent homes for dogs in foster homes and shelters. They also financially support shelter, transportation, and medical care for these dogs.
The final entry isn’t a charity but a way to easily support a charity that you choose. Amazon Smile (Twitter: @AmazonSmile) automatically donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible purchases to the charity of your choice. Once you sign up to support an organization, all you have to do is go to smile.amazon.com each time you place an order. My Amazon Smile is set up to donate to Lost-N-Found Youth, but there are many great charities you can support.