I posted this last year in December (and the year before), and as much as I'd like to write a whole new post with essentially the same message, I'm just beginning finals, so I don't really have time. But I wanted to get the message out there since December 1st is World AIDS Day and the beginning of the season of Charity. So whether you're reading this for the first or second (or third) time, remember to think of others this holiday season!
The holidays (between the thankfulness of Thanksgiving and gift-giving of Christmas) are a time for us to realize not only how lucky we are (and if you're reading this, just by having access to a computer you're luckier than probably about 90% of the world's population), but how many other people need a hand just to make it from day to day.
Especially now--when those in need are no longer just abstract starving children in the third world (which sounds insensitive, but that's actually the way many of us perceive problems in the third world--as abstract), but an increasing number of people in our very own "developed" nations, with whom we have contact every day, who find themselves in dire straights--it's a time to think about what we can be doing for others to try to improve their situation in the little ways we can, and to make the world a better home for everybody.
I got this wonderful list of outlets for your inner philanthropist from JennyMac over at Let's Have a Cocktail (so I can't take credit for compiling the list of sites), and I thought it would be a good idea to try to pass around these resources to as many people as possible so we can all try to do a little bit for someone else.
Feel free to copy the list and post it yourselves; the more this information gets around, the more people will do it. And for even the most cash-strapped among us, there's an option to make a loan (see number 25) that you'll get back So there's no excuse to not make a effort for the greater good :)
(And for those without even the liquidity to make a loan, you can donate your used books, clothes, time, or even your blood!)
Here's a list of different ways you can make your contribution. As a Scottish proverb says, "charity begins at home, but shouldn't end there." So get outside your homes and give some charity.
How to Find You Inner Philanthropist:
1. Get involved. A super easy website: http://www.dosomething.org can help you find service projects in your zip code. They also encourage you to engage your teenage family members to get involved in philanthropy. Their aim is to inspire the next generation of “doers”. You can also find local events/charities/nonprofits to support at www.dogoodchannel.com
2. Mentor/coach/tutor a future John Grisham, Louisa May Alcott or Stephanie Meyer at http://826national.org/ which is 7 nonprofits working to celebrate and advance creative writing in students age 16-18.
3. Go to your book case and clean it out. Instead of donating to the library, take those books to a local literacy program.
4. You can also join http://www.booksforsoldiers.com for free and send them to troops.
5. Give blood. To find a local blood bank: www.givelife.org
6. Send a holiday card for FREE to a soldier abroad through a Xerox sponsored program www.letssaythanks.com
7. Save all of your magazines from the month and donate them to a local women’s shelter.
8. Call a local retirement community and schedule a visit. You can spend an hour or two calling bingo. We have done it and it is a total hoot. One of the elderly ladies won and yelled “OH SWEET JESUS”. I crack up now thinking about it. (You can also take your sassy OPI or MAC nail polish instead and do some fun manicures. )
9. You can donate baby blankets, stuffed animals, and children’s books to http://projectnightnight.com/ which helps homeless children.
10. Donate your old cell phones to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Go to www.ncadv.org and look under Take Action and then Donate.
11. Donate shoes (you know you have more than you can ever wear!) to www.shareyoursoles.org
12. Mentor an at-risk teen online at http://icouldbe.org
13. Become an online reading mentor and penpal for kids in 3rd – 5th grade at www.in2books.com
14. Volunteer at a National Park. www.nps.gov
15. Donate your unused airline rewards miles to Salvation Army, Make A Wish, or others.
16. Play www.freerice.com and every correct vocab word you identify, 10 grains of rice are donated to the UN World Food Program
17. You can also go to www.freekibble.com and for every answers, you send 10 pieces of dog food to an animal shelter in need
18. Donate gift cards you won’t use to www.plasticjungle.com
19. If you knit, you can send squares to www.warmupamerica.org. The squares will be knit into afghans and donated to battered women’s shelters.
20. Sign up to volunteer at www.keenusa.org and become a one on one volunteer to teach kids with disabilities about noncompetitive sports.
Small Donations and Related Goodness
21. Every dollar donated to www.roomtoread.org promotes children’s literacy.
22. Donate a minimum of $10.00 to www.pajamaprogram.org which provides jammies and books for kids in orphanages, group homes, and shelters.
23. Buy some gourmet bean dips, salsa mixes, or spice rubs (among other things) from www.womensbeanproject.com which provides jobs and job training to homeless women. And they just celebrated their 20th anniversary.
24. Lend $25.00 to www.kiva.org which takes your loan and helps woman all over the world start businesses. You can choose your cause and the money will be paid back.
25. Give $25 to Puppies Behind Bars: a program teaching inmates how to train puppies to be service animals.
26. Buy beautiful handmade jewelry from http://www.madebysurvivors.com/ which is combating human slavery and trafficking by providing training, job skills, and life skills to women freed from sex slavery.
27. A $35 donation to Sleeping Children Around the World www.scaw.org provides a BedKit that consists of a mat or mattress, pillow, sheet, blanket, mosquito net (if applicable), clothes outfit, towel and school supplies for a needy child.
28. Give a $35 Gift of Hope to women and children rescued from Sex Slavery and Sex Trafficking at www.sharedhope.org.
29. $35 dollar will also feed a needy child for one month with Share Our Strength at www.strength.org
30. Make an online donation to www.doctorswithoutborders.org which provides aid in almost 60 countries to people suffering from abuse, neglect, famine, malnutrition, lack of health care and natural disasters. $35 will provide 35 vaccines.
31. And finally, because there are so many people on this Earth without clean and safe drinking water, you can donate $20 to http://www.charitywater.org/ and give one person drinking water for 20 years.