I‘ve written about it a few times before, but I’m not a fan of the holiday season. In the past few years though, there’s one thing I can get behind this time of year, and that’s Giving Tuesday. This time of year can be a tough time for a lot of people, and it’s been proven many times over that helping others gives us a boost. Donating to a charity also makes a great gift. Sure, you could get that mild acquaintance a generic gift card, but if you know they’ll get by just fine without it giving that money to a worthwhile cause in their name is a fantastic alternative. Win/win situations like that don’t come around nearly often enough.
The difficulty I always run into is choosing a cause for my donation. There are so many different charities that rely on donations to stay afloat. I look on sites like Charity Navigator to find organizations that will do the most with my money, but there are several reasons why a charity may not qualify for a rating. (If a charity’s website lists their financials, that’s usually a good sign.) I usually ask for advice from friends, and a lot of the time hear about a charity that I wasn’t aware of before. I’m not going to tell anyone how to spend their money but I want to share a few charities that I’ve become aware of recently, in case anyone wants to participate in Giving Tuesday and isn’t sure where to start.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
In her post about Netflix’s upcoming Dumplin’ Emily L. said she had Dolly Parton stuck in her head after watching the trailer. I can’t say that’s ever happened to me, because country music is 100% not my thing. There’s only one reason I have to be sad about that, and it’s that my total lack of familiarity with that world is why I hadn’t heard of Dolly Parton’s literacy charity until recently. The Dolly Parton Imagination Library gives one million books a MONTH to children who need them and has sent out over 111 million books since its launch in 1995. Young children around the world get free books because “inspiring kids to love to read” is Dolly’s mission. That makes even my cynical heart grow three sizes.
World Central Kitchen
There may be a part of chef José Andrés that wishes his non-profit World Central Kitchen wasn’t so necessary. Founded in 2010 after the earthquake in Haiti, this charity goes to disaster zones and cooks as many meals for as many people as they possibly can. They were on the ground in Puerto Rico almost immediately after the island was decimated by Hurricane Maria last year. WCK served over 3.6 million meals there and are continuing to help even now, when the challenges faced by Puerto Rico are no longer in the news. Most recently in California to provide meals to those affected by the devastating wildfires, chef Andrés and other volunteers served 15,000 meals on Thanksgiving Day.
With nothing being done to curb climate change, organizations like the World Central Kitchen are going to continue to be vital in the future. José Andrés — who just yesterday was nominated by Congressman John Delaney for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work— was recently on The Daily Show, where he gave explained beautifully that a hot meal isn’t going to fix things overnight, but that when you’ve lost everything, there is truly a difference between simply eating and being fed. (There are also a couple of digs at Trump.)
Support a Local Charity
Unfortunately there are many small and local charities all across the country that can get overlooked. Oftentimes they barely have enough funds to operate, let alone spend money on advertising their organization. If you’re not in a financial position that allows you to donate money, Giving Tuesday can also be the day you find somewhere to donate your time. Get together with a few friends and turn it into something fun to do together if you’re nervous about trying something by yourself. I’m looking for an organization in my area that needs help this time of year so that when I fall into my usual holiday emotional slump I can stop feeling sorry for myself and go do some good.