Reason for the Season: 9 Small Charities Giving Back (That You Should Give Back to Before the Year Ends)
Why is it that despite the miserable cold and onslaught of rain and snow, winter is the most magical time of the year? We think it’s because winter is the season of giving, the time when all the noise from the year dissipates, leaving only the things that matter in front of us: health, family, and community. By taking a moment to recharge and reset, we give ourselves a chance to rediscover our true north, the person we want to be today, and the legacy we want to leave behind ad infinitum.
It also happens to be a great time to give back by figuring out what organizations are doing work we can feel good about throwing our weight behind. Because when the new year comes and the conveyor belt of our busy lives start turning again, it’s nice to know there are people out there dedicated to putting their hearts to the grindstone to pay forward a better tomorrow. With that in mind, here are nine small charities reminding us of the reason for the season by making the world a brighter place each and every day.
Photo: fstop123 (Getty Images)
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Did you know the foster care system is set up to keep kids constantly on the move? And each time their lives are uprooted, all their worldly possessions are thrown into a trash bag? First Star aims to be the constant in a foster kid's life by creating an educational support network to help kids get into college and provide mentorship and community along the way. Working off a shoestring budget, this Los Angeles-based organization averages about 90 college enrollments a year. At an astonishing 89 percent of participants in the program, First Star dwarfs the national average of 20 percent, proving that stability is a major key to success.
The Kind Cut
How great does a fresh haircut feel? The Kind Cut is a social movement that brings hairstylists to the homeless. Recruiting a team of volunteers from in and around southern California, the organization seeks to humanize beyond the statistics of homelessness by giving a voice to those who are often ignored. Over 3,000 haircuts have been given since the charity's recent formation with plans to expand to help service the more than 553,000 homeless people currently living in America today.
Climate solutions are the most important need of our times. 350.org has been a champion of Earth justice for over a decade, spreading international grassroots campaigns and organizing calls to action that have helped put corporate polluters on notice. As more and more people begin taking action to stem the effects of climate change, 350.org will be there at the frontlines every step of the way.
Animal Welfare Institute
Protecting the welfare of animals goes way beyond being an animal lover. The issues tackled by the Animal Welfare Institute cover animal abuse, factory farming, experimentation, and lobbying practices. It is one of the oldest and most highly-rated animal rights organizations on the planet.
MAIA is all about the global empowerment of women. They wisely believe that if every woman was operating at her full potential, the world would be a better place. They've solidified their efforts in Guatemala by building the first female, indigenous-led, secondary school in the country. With a proof of concept firmly established, we look forward to seeing more female education and empowerment projects from MAIA around the world.
National Alliance to End Homelessness
Since the year 2000, well over 16 million new homes have been built in America. Currently, 18 million homes are sitting empty. And while the homeless population has skyrocketed in recent years due to rising housing costs and a low-income job market, the total homeless population in this country currently stands at half a million citizens. Something's wrong with this picture and the National Alliance to End Homelessness is dedicated to changing legislation in Washington to fix it. With a little more pressure from the public, we can help end homelessness in our lifetime.
Using the power of the law, EarthRights International fights to protect communities and natural resources from exploitation by powerful conglomerates and special interest groups. In a time when even global health and survival is a political issue, identifying the correct legal action to pursue is essential in dealing with the biggest environmental offenders. It may not sound sexy, but saving the earth is about as seductive as it gets.
Puppies Behind Bars
The concept is simple. Puppies are trained by inmates in prison who develop responsibilities and form a loving bond with these awesome animals. The dogs then go on to provide companionship and assistance to wounded veterans and first responders. Dogs are trained and lives are improved. What's not to like?
OK, so this isn't a charity, but sometimes they need a little financial assistance. If everyone who used Wiki floated them a single dollar, they could continue to operate their invaluable internet encyclopedia for years to come, so we can all continue to tumble down the rabbit hole of random information, knowing that Wikipedia is there to be our brain when we can't be bothered.