Thursday, December 10, 2015

Christmas Wishes And Charities

In our previous article, I focused on Christmas and Holiday charities with a military or first responder angle. That one was originally written for a website that is devoted to military and first responder issues, but I thought it well worth sharing with our Frequently Interrupted family as well. Today I want to look at a broader picture and present some charities that aren't as specific, but are just as beneficial. As always, this is not a comprehensive list, by any means. There are many more out there, and anything that helps, helps. These are just some ideas to get you started.

Feeding America

The Feeding America network is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. The nationwide network of food banks provides more than 3.6 billion meals to virtually every community in the United States through food pantries and meal programs. They have a nationwide network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs that provide more than 3 billion meals to hungry families every year. While the Feeding America network operates year round, there is an extra focus during the holidays and right now they are running a matching campaign so that every donation is automatically doubled, feeding twice as many.

Angel Tree

The United States has one of the largest prison populations in the world. There is a huge debate over that subject that goes far beyond the purpose of today's article, but one piece that often gets overlooked is the fact that many of these inmates have children at home. Approximately 2.7 million children will face the holidays with at least one parent incarcerated. These children are undeniably innocent, and Angel Tree, a program of Prison Fellowship, helps to ease the holiday season for them through donations of time and presents. The children of inmates can often feel abandoned and left out, even though they have done nothing wrong, and Angel Tree tries to help them feel the love of the season.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

There is never a bad time to help St. Jude, but the holiday season can be especially difficult for the children in their care. These children are fighting heartbreaking, life threatening illnesses, and that can make it more than a little bit difficult to get into the Christmas spirit. St. Jude offers a variety of ways to volunteer and donate, but one of the ones you might want to take special notice of right now is a feature on their website where you can create and send Christmas cards to the children of St. Jude. It's under the Get Involved tab, so go take a look. St. Jude doesn't need me to sing their praises - I've never met a person who didn't know what amazing work they do - but they do need all of us to help them keep doing that amazing work.

Heifer International

Hunger is not just a problem at home. In fact, it is often a larger and more pervasive problem elsewhere, in places where life can be so difficult that people have no time for holiday seasons. Heifer International has spent 70 years working to change this global situation. Through a combination of education, donations, and just plain hard work, Heifer works toward ending world hunger by improving local communities and helping local farms become more efficient and sustaining. The Gift Catalog at the Heifer website has a section for holiday-specific gifts, so you can find the giving style that is right for you, and help a community grow (we like the theme of growing communities around here, in case you haven't noticed). For $500, you can even give an actual heifer to a community farm in need.

Make-A-Wish

If you're not already familiar with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, you might be on the wrong website. I can't really imagine anyone reading Frequently Interrupted who isn't already a fan of an organization that makes dreams come true for children who are all out of dreams. The goal of Make-A-Wish is to grant the wish of every child who is diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition. Sad to say, but that's a lot of children, and a lot of wishes. It's a lofty goal, and one that cannot be achieved without the help of every day people in every day lives. The Make-A-Wish Foundation relies on volunteers, donors, and supporters around the world to make these dreams come true. Perhaps you can help give a Christmas miracle to a child in need.

The Salvation Army

Red kettles, ringing bells, and "Merry Christmas!" It's a sight and sound that is, for many of us, an integral part of the Christmas season. The Salvation Army Red Kettle bell ringers give of their time every year, rain or shine (or snow, as the case may be) to help raise money for needy families. Started in 1891 by Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee with the goal of providing a free Christmas dinner to everyone in San Francisco who needed one, the red kettles have spread around the world and are now probably the most easily recognized donation site of the holiday season. If you're out doing your Christmas shopping, you will almost certainly see a bell ringer. Say Hi, say Thank you, say Merry Christmas! Give what you can, and help make someone day and season a little better.

However you choose to make the season special, I hope that it is special for you and yours and everyone around you. It can be a difficult time for some, so do what you can to make it less difficult. If you are one of those for whom it is difficult, reach out. Don't be afraid to ask for help. It isn't always obvious, but the world can be a pretty good place with plenty of pretty good people. You might be surprised how many people want to make a positive difference. You might also be surprised by how many people are right there with you, feeling the weight right now. You are not alone, but it's all a little easier if we all help each other. Together we can make a better world.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from ours to yours. Make it a great season this year.

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