It’s Winter in the Northern hemisphere, now. That means snow for some of us, and a lot of it. Where there isn’t snow, there’s rain, wind, and colder temperatures. It’s a good time to give, but giving shouldn’t be done without careful consideration or out of habit.
It’s important to be informed about the charities, NGOs, clubs, and other organizations that you might be giving a few dollars to this time of year. It’s important too, to give time and money locally — help build your community! — to vetted organizations that don’t violate your personal sense of ethics.
Do they work in solidarity? Are they LGBTQ friendly? Do they have a diversity statement? A mission and ethics statement?
Giving Well suggests seeing if the organization publishes reports and Charity Navigator reminds us to be careful of soundalike names. Always check — is this organization legitimate, or is it seeking to take advantage of you? When asked to contribute to a, to me, unknown organization, I ask for literature and time to think it over, rather than donating on the spot.
If you’re considering giving to local food banks and shelters, be sure to check their wants and needs listings before heading out. If you’re donating to a toy drive, remember that in many places, only wrapped toys are accepted. So too for food drives — fewer and fewer take homemade food.
If you’d like to give time, not money, well, you’re probably out of luck as volunteer lists fill up quickly, but you may still have a chance — just ask!
Here are some organizations that the WWAC team has donated to in the past, or recommends you checking out:
Arts Emergency is a charity (their “about us” page notes their work is done in solidarity) that exists to bring creative industry networking and mentorship into definitively underprivileged post-secondary education. Calling itself an Alternative Old Boys’ Network, they match students between sixteen and nineteen with volunteers — professionals in the arts, entertainment, and culture spheres — with whom they spend a year’s guidance, working towards a goal and being, basically, part of that world.
In the last twenty years, UK fees for Higher Education have gone from free to prohibitive, and this charity aims to meet the obvious culture problems that causes head on. “The work we do is no substitute for justice withheld,” they say, and that’s true. So donate, but also agitate.
Though we regularly donate to various charities all year long, local toy drives and food banks are more prominent at the holidays, which makes it easier for us to talk about the importance of helping others in need with our daughters. They enjoy filling the brown bag at the grocery store, and take pride in dropping off toys. Our major charity of choice is Sick Kids Hospital, which is part of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. In lieu of gifts to family, friends, and teachers, the girls select various options through the Sick Kids Get Better Gifts program.
I like donorschoose.org You can donate locally to schools near you, or choose a project that interests you anywhere in the US! I hate that it has to exist (fund schools!), but they do good work.
Toys for Tots, natch. Christmas time is hard for undeprivileged kids whose families can’t spare money for things like toys. The other kids in class will be showing off their haul after break, and this lets those kids of lesser means at least take part in the fun.
Plus, Marines giving toys to children? How sweet is that?
See these two adorable faces:
I adopted them from the Legacy Humane Society. Legacy rescues and fosters abused, neglected, and abandoned dogs. Both of my girls were found abandoned, and the Legacy volunteers and fosters worked hard to make them healthy and find them a permanent home (me – and I couldn’t be happier!). I was thoroughly impressed by their background check, their knowledge, and their mission. Additionally, they were there to answer any questions and concerns I had regarding how the girls adapted to their new living situation with me.
Whether or not you live in the DFW area, check out local humane societies in your neck of the woods. Even if you aren’t in the position to adopt or foster, every little bit helps! The people who volunteer their time and their hearts with the humane societies are tremendously dedicated and inspiring!
In the intro to this post I said that fewer and fewer food-based charities and food banks accepted home-made or leftover food. Second Harvest, though, is a food rescue: they want your food leftovers, especially if you’re a restaurant, cafeteria, or manufacturer. I love the work that Second Harvest does because diverting food waste is important and can increase the quality of food a charity, bank, or shelter can serve their clients. Leftovers from a gourmet restaurant beat a can of baked beans! They also do a turkey drive for families who celebrate the solstice with a big, meaty, meal. Remember: the fastest growing demographics of food bank clients are kids and teens.