Please remember charities when you open your wallet this holiday season! This is a list of my favourite charities, in alphabetical order. With all of these charities, your dollar goes a long way and really helps those in need. And keep in mind that donations make excellent gifts for those ‘hard to buy for’ friends and family members!
1. The Cancer Society - For many, many families, cancer is a major part of their lives. The Cancer Society does outstanding work. Donations help fund research, provide resources & counselling, improve quality of life for patients and families, and create information on cancer prevention. Your money can also fund special programs! I was lucky enough to volunteer at The BC Cancer Society‘s Camp Goodtimes last summer. This summer camp is for children with cancer and their siblings. The camp is run by the most amazing group of people I have ever met. For one week, the kids get to be regular kids. They swim in the lake, eat s’mores, sleep in bunks and make new friends. It builds confidence and gives them an opportunity like nothing else. Check out the video below to get a taste of what camp is like. And take a look near you to see if you can donate to or volunteer at a similar camp. It will change your life! (Canadian Cancer Society) (American Cancer Society)
2. Children International - I highly recommend Children International as an excellent alternative to religious-based child sponsorship programs. As a secular group, Children International supports children from families of all religions and creeds and does not require church attendance in order to receive aid. You can sponsor a children from a number of different countries around the world, and you even have the option of travelling to meet your sponsor child! There is also the opportunity to fund special projects from bug nets to immunizations to putting a new roof on your sponsor family’s home. I enjoy dealing with the organization as they are not pushy or greedy, and they keep you updated on your child’s progress through letters and photos. If you want to make a one-time donation, those also go very far to help under-privileged children and families.
3. The Food Bank – I’m not ashamed to share that we used the Food Bank when I was a child. I used to love it… all those shelves full of food! It’s only as an adult, and a mother, that I realize how hard it must have been for my parents. Have you ever worried that you might not be able to feed your children, or yourself? Have you had to choose between groceries or paying rent? What an amazing public service the food bank offers: full bellies & peace of mind. I am so proud of my mom who fought very hard to get us back above the poverty line, to a place where we can donate to the food bank that once fed us. Even if you’ve never relied on this service, know that it makes a huge difference for families. You can donate monetarily or by bringing new, unopened food items to your local food bank.(Canadian Food Bank) (American Food Bank)
4. Kiva – Have you heard about Kiva? It is a great idea that has spread like wildfire and is making a huge difference for small business owners in developing countries. For a $25 donation, you can make a ‘microloan’ to the business owner of your choice. Then a number of other lenders can fund that same small business until they meet their requested loan amount. The loans may be used to buy inventory, fix up a store, or improve their equipment. When the business owner receives their loan, they can make the necessary improvements to their business, and increase their revenue. Then they pay the loan back as per the lending terms. You receive back all of your $25! The best thing to do then is to reloan the money and help another small business get on its feet. In this simple way, Kiva makes a HUGE difference for people around the world by making them self-sufficient. Go make a loan today!
5. The Red Cross - Most people don’t think about the Red Cross until a disaster strikes, but it should be on your regular donation list. Not only does the Red Cross help communities struck by disasters, they help refugees, reunite families separated by disasters, and give ongoing support to those who need it most. Currently they are seeking help for the drought in Africa. Everyone wants to help when there is a tsunami or earthquake, but please remember those who need help TODAY. The Red Cross does a wonderful job of managing money to get resources and humanitarian workers directly to those in need. (Canadian Red Cross) (American Red Cross)
Do you donate year-round? What are your favourite charities?