Whatever Shopping Guide 2011, Day 5: Charities

For the last four days, the Whatever Shopping Guide 2011 has been about helping you find the perfect gifts for friends and loved ones. But today I’d like to remind folks that the season is also about helping those in need. So this final day is for charities. If you’re looking for a place to make a donation — or know of a charitable organization that would gladly accept a donation — this is the place for it.

How to contribute to this thread:

1. Anyone can contribute. If you are associated with or work for a charity, tell us about the charity. If there’s a charity you regularly contribute to or like for philosophical reasons, share with the crowd. This is open to everyone.

2. Focus on non-political charities, please. Which is to say, charities whose primary mission is not political — so, for example, an advocacy group whose primary thrust is education but who also lobbies lawmakers would be fine, but a candidate or political party or political action committee is not. The idea here is charities that exist to help people and/or make the world a better place for all of us.

Also, informal charities and fundraisers are fine, but please do your part to make sure you’re pointing people to a legitimate fundraiser and not a scam.

3. One post per person. In that post, you can list whatever charities you like, and more than one charity. Note also that the majority of Whatever’s readership is in the US/Canada, so I suggest focusing on charities available in North America.

4. Keep your description of the charity brief (there will be a lot of posts, I’m guessing) and entertaining. Imagine the person is in front of you as you tell them about the work and is interested but easily distracted.

5. You may include a link to a charity site if you like by using standard HTML link scripting. Be warned that if you include too many links (typically three or more) your post may get sent to the moderating queue. If this happens, don’t panic: I’ll be going in through the day to release moderated posts. Note that posts will occasionally go into the moderation queue semi-randomly; Don’t panic about that either.

6. Comment posts that are not about people promoting charities they like will be deleted, in order to keep the comment thread useful for people looking to find charities to contribute to.

All right, then: It’s the season of giving. Tell us where to give to make this a better place.

104 Comments on “Whatever Shopping Guide 2011, Day 5: Charities”

  1. This isn’t specific, but I highly recommend looking at your local county children’s services organization. Here in Franklin County, Ohio, you can contribute toys or money to their annual Christmas drive that distributes toys to needy children that would not otherwise get gifts. It’s a worthwhile cause for people that need help.

  2. Yay! I love this one each year. I spend my vacations at Best Friends, the largest no-kill animal sanctuary in the US. They currently have a matching offer on all holiday contributions, and they also have a wish list if you’d prefer to give stuff.

  3. I support The Charis Project– a self-sustaining orphanage in Thailand, rescuing kids and giving them a home, an education, and hope for the future. Plus they’re entrepreneurs, finding a self-sustaining way to help the kids and the community around them. Kids + Education + Smart = Awesome

  4. I’m sure I won’t be the only one to suggest this, but Child’s Play is an amazing charity. They buy toys and games for children in hospitals all over the country. I know from personal experience that seeing your child get those toys from strangers – during what is always an extremely scary time for parents – can give the feeling that the world at large cares about and supports you. http://www.childsplaycharity.org

  5. My favorite charity is Home for Life, a group that provides a permanent home for cats that are unadoptable due to age, health, or special needs. My wife and I sponsor a cat annually and my little bike company donates $25 out of every frame purchased to the charity.

  6. While I also love the Heifer project (for which Patrick Rothfuss’s “WorldBuilders” drive is currently ongoing) I would like to direct you to Falling Whistles, a charity which rehabilitates child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I first heard about it through Mark L. Van Name’s book Children No More. There are many, many charities all over the world that do great things. Please take a look at Falling Whistles. They are one of them.

  7. Since I think most of us who find ourselves on Whatever are supporters of reading, I’d like to ask folks to please consider a donation to RIF (Reading Is Fundamental) this giving season. They’re such a worthy cause – and they and the children they serve are in need of our help. (Also, you know, a donation to your local library might not come amiss…)


  8. Another option for pet lovers – here in Tampa Bay, Florida, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay needs funds for their new Animal Health Center, which will provide low-cost spaying/neutering and other pet healthcare for the community, as well as expanded care for the shelter animals. This org has basically cut homeless and companion animal euthanasia in the area IN HALF over the last couple of years. http://humanesocietytampa.org

  9. Deep in Florida, where everything should be warm and happy, a lady is trying with both hands to keep her tiny no-kill shelter for dogs open. 911RUFF got hit hard by the oilspill last year – their donations dried up, and bills are snowballing. Meanwhile, 40+ dogs are looking at an uncertain future.

    If you think you’d like to help, visit and donate at http://911ruff.org.

  10. Worldbuilders.org. Pat Rothfuss’ team to raise money for the Heifer Project which gives the gift of life by helping those in need become more self sufficient. Goats, rabbits, weasel, cows, alpacas, llamas, and capybaras – all available for your charitable donations. Give money! Win signed books! Including mine and your dashing host’s, Mr. John Scalzi.

  11. I have two suggestions. The first is for the SBA, the group that works to reduce the incidence of spina bifida (a severe birth defect where the spine does not close) and provides aid for the children and adults who have it. A high percentage of incidences of spina bifida are caused by inadequate diet and this means a lot of the battle against it is a matter of providing education and in some cases, dietary assistance. Here is their link.

    Second is the Villa Infantil, a small orphanage in Jalisco, Mexico (run by nuns) that just had to do some expensive renovations. If you’re looking for a small, personal charity where the money goes right to those in need, this is it. Here is the link.

    Happy Holidays!

  12. Next October, myself and five of my nerdiest friends are doing a 500-mile journey through Ireland and Scotland in medieval gear (and costume!) in an attempt to raise a whopping $100,000 for cancer societies worldwide.

    You can learn more about our trip on our website at http://www.wayfarerquest.com/our-quest/ – almost all of us have been hit by cancer one way or another in our lifetimes, we hope that the nerd community that we’re all such a part of will help us in our quest to help end it.

  13. I support Oldies But Goodies Cocker Spaniel Rescue in Virginia. This will be my family’s first Christmas with our rescued dog Scotch, and we couldn’t be happier with him. OBG makes special efforts to rescue older dogs and those in need of medical attention or expensive procedures. And they also rescue plenty of “honorary” Cockers (even including some cats) if Cockers aren’t your thing. I hope you will support them too.

  14. Neighborhoods Partnership Network is a non-profit in New Orleans, set up after Hurricane Katrina, to help neighborhood associations and other neighborhood groups punch above their weight as part of rebuilding New Orleans. Full disclosure: my wife works for them. I think they do good work.

    “Our mission is to improve the quality of life by engaging New Orleanians in neighborhood revitalization and civic processes. By all of us working together- you, your organization, your neighborhood, and the Network that you have created within NPN – there’s no limit to what we can accomplish.”


  15. Hey awesome! Okay so two things: New York Women in Film and Television is a place where I’m interning. Scalzi’s run some interesting columns about women in sci-fi film (i.e., not enough creators) over at AMC FilmCritic, and honestly the paucity of women in film generally is a big problem. It warps the world around us, making us think that the only woman director out there is Kathryn Bigelow. And maybe Julie Taymor. NYWIFT’s an organization that promotes women in film, is a networking organization, does advocacy and studies on the problem, and offers fiscal sponsorship among a lot of other benefits. Donating would be a really great thing. http://www.nywift.org

    The other organization to which I’d like to direct your attention is Black and Missing, which combats media bias and the missing white woman syndrome. Media organizations disproportionately cover missing white women over missing people of color. It’s a newish organization, but it’s doing good and could use your dollars. http://www.blackandmissinginc.com/cdad/

  16. Clearing land mines with trained rats: http://www.apopo.org, aka Hero Rat.

    Land mines are a scourge throughout much of the third world. Many of those land mines are leftovers from richer countries’ interventions in those countries. But cleaning the land mines with rats is not only effective, it’s cheap. There’s a definite big bang for the buck (but in reverse). People’s lives are unquestionably improved, in a way that lets them help themselves.

    Plus, Hero Rats are dang cute. What more can you ask for in a charity?

  17. Greyhound Companions of New Mexico is greyt organization dedicated to finding homes for retired racing greyhounds and other sighthounds. Their website features fabulous articles about dog behavior and they, like most rescue organizations, are always struggling with vet bills.


  18. For those of you in the UK I’d like to recommend Kids Company: http://www.kidsco.org.uk/

    They work with the very poorest and excluded of children and as they say themselves, many of them never really recover from the grimness of their lives, but they have a huge success rate giving children a place to call sanctuary (kids walk in, they are not referred as such). There is a good write up here.

  19. For those who aren’t already donating to their local no-kill shelter (or who have extra money to donate!) please consider Fur and Feather Animal Assistance http://www.furandfeather.org/, a permanent residence facility for unwanted animals. Some friends of mine run the place and everything they have goes into it.

    The thing about FFAA is that *every* animal gets personal care daily, and no animal is in a cage by itself unless it absolutely must be for health or safety reasons. All animals are rehabilitated physically and behaviorally, and the volunteers that work there dish out love as much as food and water. FFAA doesn’t have the time or money to spend on marketing, so it’s up to their friends to spread the word. FFAA is a non-profit, your donation is tax-deductible! Even if you don’t want to donate, please spread the word. Thank you.

  20. Consider the Madagascar Ankizy Fund – it was set up by paleontologists excavating dinosaurs in remote parts of Madagascar, a country with very little infrastructure for education or health. The Ankizy Fund supports schools and clinics in rural Madagascar, and does a fantastic (and efficient) job – I’ve seen them in action first-hand, having been a member of the paleontology research team on several occasions.

  21. My wife visited Shanto, a remote Ethiopian village, last year to see the work among widows and orphans. She was so touched that she became the sponsorship coordinator at http://www.fovc.org. Comparing the pictures of kids with one year of support and kids still needing support is humbling. The supported kids look so much healthier.

  22. Engineers Without Borders (Canada) works to advocate for more effective development aid and is involved in various development projects in Ghana, Malawi, Burkina Faso and Zambia.

    The annual Perspectives Challenge from Engineers Without Borders members across Canada is underway. Reading the various perspectives shows why people are so passionate about EWB, and offers an opportunity to support the organization in lieu of holiday gifts.


  23. Children of the Night, based in Hollywood CA. http://www.childrenofthenight.org

    I’ve known of this org almost since its inception – sadly, still nearly a one-of-a-kind organization dedicated to rescuing kids from prostitution by providing housing, counseling, education…one kid at a time. Love them to bits, and since they don’t take funding that has any strings attached to it (most of the federal, state and county offerings), they need any help they can get.

    “Children of the Night is the only full-service program in North America designed specifically for American children who have been forced to prostitute right here in the United States – girls AND boys. Most of these children have been forced to prostitute in hot-sheet motels and truck stops and many have been held in jails on “material witness holds” until they testify against a pimp/trafficker. Until they have reached the Children of the Night home, life with a pimp may have been better than home or the detention centers where they have been held.”

  24. I’m currently living in Mexico and working with a group called Ojalá Niños. Ojalá Niños is a non-profit program for children in the rural community of San Miguel Viejo near san Miguel de Allende, in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. The program offers afternoon classes in 6 art disciplines, English and music, free of charge to 100 local children. Teachers are volunteers from the US, Canada, and the local Mexican community. Ojalá gives these poor rural children the opportunity to explore their natural curiosity and creativity through art, music and reading as well as helping the children develop critical thinking skills and self confidence.

    We are currently raising money to hire a bilingual, Mexican teacher to start working with the children to improve literacy in the community. As always with Ojalá, all classes and supplies are offered free of charge to the community.

    If you’d like to learn more, please visit our website: http://www.ojala-ninos.org/

    Thank you and happy holidays!

  25. Okay, so here’s something that I don’t want anyone to send money to, it’s more of a request. For the past year or so, I have been approaching homeless people and giving them a little money (usually $5, more if I have it) and then praying for them. Now, I know that not everyone is a believer, and you certainly don’t have to pray for anybody. But, taking the time to get out of your car and just talking to someone holding a sign on the side of the road and giving them a little money (God knows it’s a drop in the bucket), can make a difference. I have written about my experiences doing this at my blog http://www.fivebucksandaprayer.wordpress.com Again, do not send money.

  26. I would like to suggest making a donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I know how much the special family vacation they provided before my daughter passed due to ALL Leukemia ment to my little girl.

  27. Bunnies. I mean who doesn’t love bunnies. Desert Cry Wildlife in Queen Creek, Arizona gives small wild animals found injured or abandoned too young to care for themselves a place to be healed, rehabilitated and returned to their natural habitat. This means saving bunnies. So go to desertcry.org and give some warm fuzzy things a hsapier holiday aksi.

  28. I’d like to recommend a cause near and dear to my heart, Reach Out and Read. Like most of you, I was fortunate enough to grow up in a situation where books and reading were an important part of my life. But lots of children in the US are not so lucky. Reach Out and Read addresses that by making literacy promotion a standard part of pediatric primary care, giving new books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud so that children grow up with books and a love of reading. In Illinois alone there are 126 Reach Out and Read clinical locations including military bases that care for the children of service members, serving nearly 137,000 children and their families while distributing more than 161,000 books annually. Monetary donations to the local chapters are used for the purchase of new books to give to children at each well-child doctor visit, and donated gently-used books are placed in the waiting rooms and given to siblings so each child can go home from the doctor visit with a book to keep.

    Here’s a link to the Reach Out and Read of Illinois Chapter where you can learn about making a donation, volunteering at a site or sponsoring a book drive.

  29. My sister is serving in the Peace Corps in Burkina Faso, a small West African nation just north of Ghana. She teaches computer skills to over 350 12-15 year old girls at the College de Jeunes Filles de Koubri. The weather and dust are killers for her meager set of dilapidated computers and she is raising funds to seal the windows and add air conditioning to the computer room so they can continue to use them. Any and all help is appreciated!

    Read more from her about this project on her blog

    Peace Corp donation page

  30. I love Saint Joseph Institute for the Deaf. (There are three locations you can give to. If you don’t care which you give to, choose KC because I love them!)

    Hearing impaired kids can get implants now that help them hear. You might remember this news story about the 29 year old woman hearing her voice for the first time? Well, the sooner you get the implant, the better it works because your brain is trained to interpret the signals sooner, better. Infants and toddlers are getting the implants.

    At SJID the kids get speech therapy so they can easily communicate with others and get an education that puts them a year ahead of their public school counterparts. When they get mainstreamed back into the public school system they aren’t fighting an academic battle as well as adjusting to regular classroom noise.

    I’ve seen kids that have graduated and are now in high school or beyond. It’s amazing. As wonderful as the deaf community is, these kids have the opportunity to more easily explore and be employed and be social in the world beyond it. Truly fantastic work.

  31. Having had a son who spent several months in a NICU I have personally benefitted from this charity, and give back every year since: http://www.projectlinus.org/

    Project Linus’ aim is to help comfort sick and traumatized children with blankets, and accept monetary donations and blanket donations. The year we “adopted” Project Linus as our extended family Christmas charity they sent personalized thank you letters to everyone that had donated, which while not necessary to get me to donate really makes my help feel appreciated.

  32. I run a charity called Books for Boobs which raises money for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer while drawing attention to noteworthy authors! My fundraising partner and I are planning to launch another batch of signed books in the next week or so, for slightly belated holiday gifts. :D You can join the mailing list to be notified when the next wave goes live!

  33. Arts on the Edge, http://www.artsontheedge.org/, the 501c3 non-profit organization behind the Hiland Mountain Correctional Center Women’s String Orchestra (Eagle River, Alaska). It’s the only women’s prison orchestra in existence, so far as I know. It’s a serious community effort. Musicians from the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra volunteer to sit in with the inmates at practice over the year. The orchestra received the ‘Bright Idea” Award from the Harvard/Kennedy School of Government in 2010.

    Who benefits? The inmates, obviously, who are there because they were never taught to play well with others. Now they are. Safety of the staff. At every concert I make a point of thanking the corrections officers for the trouble they go to to help stage the concert (it is a logistics nightmare of epic proportions), and many of the officers have said to me, “If the women are practicing on their instruments, they aren’t causing us trouble.” The public, who get an up close and personal look at the inside of a public institution paid for by their state dollars, and who are treated to solos by world-class guest musicians.

    Funding goes to pay the conductor (more about her here, http://www.artsontheedge.org/About%20us.html), for instrument purchase and repair, and for guests appearances by world class musicians (This year the guest was cellist Evan Drachman of the Piatgorsky Foundation) at the annual Christmas concert. The concert, due to heroic efforts of warden and staff at the facility, is open to the public, and this year was sold out. Next year there will be two concerts.

    More answers from Arts on the Edge Director Pati Crofut, crofutp@aol.com.
    Send tax-deductible checks made out to Arts on the Edge, 2308 Jefferson Avenue
    Anchorage, AK, 99517.
    Full disclosure: I’m on the board of directors.

  34. I’d like to second carmen wexter buxton’s suggestion to support spina bifida research. It’s been shown that, in developing countries, spina bifida and hydrocephalus can be caused by malnutrition and infection.

    I was born with hydrocephalus. Since 1998, my family and I have been big supporters of the Hydrocephalus Association (www.hydroassoc.org, you can also “like” them on Facebook), based in San Francisco, CA. They provide support and education for the families affected by hydrocephalus, and they also support research funding for hydrocephalus, spina bifida and other related disorders.

    Please consider donating. Hydrocephalus can be very expensive to treat (the brain surgery alone can cost upwards of $30K, and that’s only for the procedure itself, not counting the other costs), is excruciatingly painful–at worst, fatal–if left untreated, and not everybody is fortunate enough to have insurance.

    Thanks so much, and Happy Holidays!

  35. I would suggest this org. Almost all of the donation goes directly to the injured soldiers. The SUDS program is run by a dedicated staff of volunteers who are passionate about helping our injured service members & diving.

    Mission Statement

    Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba (SUDS) at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) in Bethesda, MD is designed to help improve the lives of injured veterans returning from Iraq & Afghanistan. By training the warriors in a challenging & rewarding activity it can help facilitate the rehabilitation process & promote mobility. Offering this venue provides the veteran with a sport they can enjoy throughout their life. SUDS is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization & a chapter of Disabled Sports USA.


  36. StandUp For Kids is a great place to donate because they are RUN ENTIRELY BY VOLUNTEERS in each city and so almost all of your donation goes directly to items supplied to homeless, at-risk, and runaway kids and young adults up to 25 years old. The Washington, DC chapter has a page where you can get a choose the amount of your donation and receive a customized holiday card (either paper or e-card) saying what your donation could be used for, for example:

    * $10 – A Gift for the Road: Your gift would provide one youth with a packed lunch, hygiene items, and clean socks.
    * $25 – A Gift of Warmer Winters: Your gift would provide a coat to one youth who will benefit from the warmth as he or she spends time outside.
    * $50 – A Gift of Work: Your gift would provide one youth with a complete interview outfit and transit card to join the workforce.

    Go to https://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/standupdc/donate to donate

  37. Another link for people in the UK: http://www.sauk.org.uk/

    Raising money to support those undergoing treatment for scoliosis and related conditions, in the form of a helpline, right through to local contacts who have previously been in the same position.

  38. I volunteer with a cat shelter called Katie’s Place, here in the Lower Mainland of BC. We take a lot of ‘last chance’ cats, including those living with FIV or Feline Leukemia, and try to find them homes. Our website has a Paypal button for anyone wishing to donate.
    We also have a book, the proceeds from which go to the shelter. Details about that are available on the website, under ‘Shop’, but copies can also be bought from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca (the title is “The Cat Who Sang”, by Brigitta MacMillan).

  39. Toys for Tots is my traditional request in these lists. I don’t want to clutter this with links; you all know Google. All of these have saved my life or helped me over the years: “Epilepsy Foundation”, “Red Cross” (you can give blood, and life!), “CHADD” helps both children and adults with ADHD, and the “Disabled American Veterans”.

  40. The Jeannette Rankin Foundation provides scholarships to women entering college for the first time at age 35 or older. Many of these women are single mothers, and many are the first in their families to attend college. The graduation rate of recipients is admirable.

    Wholesome Wave is an organization working to make fresh, locally grown food available to people who can’t ordinarily get it. For example, they sponsor programs that double the value of food stamps (EBT/SNAP) when spent at local farmer’s markets. This helps small farmers, keeps money in the local economy, improves nutrition and decreases chronic disease risk among vulnerable populations, and brings an oasis to food deserts.

  41. Chuck Russell—I suggest that if somebody’s uncomfortable giving money, a meal is always a good idea. After all, if their sign says “Hungry” they’re usually serious about it.

    I’m going to suggest the Advent Conspiracy, which started when a group of churches took note of how much Americans spent on Christmas and determined that a mere fraction of that annual total could provide clean water to everyone in the world. Donations are used to set up wells in places where clean water is hard to come by.

  42. I would like to endorse the charity Sanctuary for Kids.

    It is charity focused on at-risk youth. It helps by giving 100 percent of all donations through local groups directly involved with the aforementioned at risk youth.

    It was started by actress Amanda Tapping, screenwriter Damian Kindler and Jill Bodie.

  43. Sanctuary for Kids was started by Amanda Tapping, Damian Kindler and Jill Bodie to improve the lives of children around the world who need protection and are in crisis – those who are exploited, dispossessed and threatened.

  44. Broad Universe (www.broaduniverse.org) is an international non-profit that supports, honors, and promotes women writers of science fiction, fantasy, horror–and everything in between. We educate the community about women authors who are still frequently overlooked through panels & readings at conventions, libraries, & bookstores. We also help women sell their books with tables at conventions, readings at events and in podcasts, and information through our website and discussion list. Help us help more women – now and from genre’s past – get the recognition they deserve!

    Bay State Equine Rescue is an all-volunteer non-profit dedicated to making the world a better place for horses through educating the community about equine issues and care, as well as direct intervention to save and place horses who have been neglected, abused, and abandoned. http://www.baystaterescue.org

  45. If you like Heifer International or Kiva and have/work with kids, you might also look at http://www.onehen.org/

    They have all kinds of information on microfinance for kids, and have also published a picture book on the topic.

  46. The National Domestic Violence hotline is a great source of information and networking for families in need of a safehouse or shelter. Contact them to donate or to find numbers for the domestic violence shelters near you; call and find out what needs are pressing locally.

    Thanks, John Scalzi!

  47. http://www.donorschoose.org – a way to help public school teachers fund small projects for their classroom. You can search by geographic area, subject area, and many more ways. I usually search by “language and literacy” to see who is trying to fund reading centers or buy books for their students.

    http://www.globalgiving.org – another site that lets you look through projects and select them by place or meaning, but this one is worldwide. Buy a chicken for someone in India or help fund a pantry that provides supplemental food to low income people in the Portland area who living with HIV/AIDs.

  48. I’ve been working with an LA organization called Reading to Kids (http://readingtokids.org/Home/main.php) for 11 years now. We run monthly reading camps at 7 central-LA elementary schools, where we (as the name says) read books to the kids, do arts-and-crafts related to the books (to encourage further/alternative thinking about them), give books to each child to take home, and donate books to the school libraries. We’ve donated over 100K books to the kids and over 18K books to the schools. And we’re a cheap source of karma: a $5 contribution will supply take-home books for 4 kids. Donations can be made here: http://readingtokids.org/News/2011AnnualFundDrive.html

  49. I would ask folks to consider the Ruth Ellis Center in Detroit. The Ruth Ellis Center is the only mission specific agency in the entire Midwest dedicated to LGBTQ, (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-atractional, Transgender and Questioning) youth. The Center provides residential and drop-in programs.

    The Ruth Ellis Center honors the life and work of Ruth Ellis, an out lesbian of color born in 1899 who was a social justice advocate. Her life and work were chronicled in the fantabulous documentary, Living With Pride: Ruth C. Ellis @10

  50. My recommendation is for Soldiers Angels. Their primary mission is to identify soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who do not have family support and pair them with volunteers who agree to send care packages and letters on a periodic basis.

    Additionally, however, they are also a very robust support group for wounded war-fighters and families of deployed military.

    They are truly worthy of your time and attention.

  51. The last few years, Marcia and I have made gifts to charity instead of exchanging presents (she still gets a birthday present on January 3).

    Recently mine have been to Partners in Health, founded by Paul Farmer, who was the subject of a fine book by Tracy Kidder, and to Ashoka, which specializes in “social entrepreneurship” to find solutions to really tough problems.

  52. Your local emergency heating fund. These are sometimes run through utility companies, or by brances of the Red Cross or United Way, or by local charitable organizations. Do a little research, and in the spirit of the season help keep your neighbors warm this winter.

  53. The 826 organizations support writing and tutoring programs for students, ages 6-18. Last year their tutoring centers served over 29,000 students. I think they’re particularly relevant for those of us who value writing and reading…and making sure both become, and remain, fun.

    826 is serious about fun, in fact: Each chapter has a storefront aspect that serves as a clever ruse to lure in the unsuspecting. From LA’s Echo Park Time Travel Mart to the Greater Boston Bigfoot Research Institute to Chicago’s Boring Store (which sells nothing of interest and is certainly not an outlet for spy equipment) to the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co., all are amazing and do their part to raise a little money for the local programming.

    http://www.826michigan.org/ (my local chapter, and home of Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair)

  54. For anyone interested in secular humanist giving, I highly recommend the Foundation Beyond Belief: http://foundationbeyondbelief.org/

    Every quarter, FBB selects a slate of charities in ten different categories including Environment, Education, Poverty, and Human Rights. Members sign up to donate a set amount of money per month and then get to decide what portion of their donations goes to each of that quarter’s charities. FBB carefully vets each of the selected organizations to make sure that ” they act in accordance with humanist values including mutual care, responsibility, and free inquiry and do not proselytize.” 100% of donations go to the selected charities; nothing goes to overhead costs to run FBB.

    Because FBB sends 100% of donations to the selected charities, they rely on separate donations and grants to cover their overhead costs. They are running and end of year fundraiser to help meet those costs right now. Even if you cannot join as a continuing member, consider donating to this cause to keep the foundation running.

  55. I’m surprised to get all the way through the list and see only one person mention Child’s Play, so I’ll mention it again. Hospitals set up Amazon.com wish lists and when you purchase a book, toy, game, or movie from the list Amazon sends it directly to the hospital. The items are shared with kids who may be scared to be in the hospital. I’ve participated for the past few years and when I receive a thank you card from the hospital in January, it’s a great feeling.

  56. John,

    I have a friend who created an e-commerce company that acts as a single point of access for American-made consumer products. It’s not a charity, but I can provide the link if you think this would be of any interest to your readers.

  57. I have two I would like to suggest: CAPSA and Sanctuary for Kids.

    Community Abuse Prevention Services Agency (CAPSA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and providing education in order to prevent violence in our community. The mission of CAPSA is to provide safe, caring, and confidential shelter, advocacy, and support for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault; and to reduce incidents of abuse through prevention education.

    We believe in individual worth. We believe a person in an abusive situation has the right to understand the options available and be in control of his or her own decisions. We believe that individuals:
    1. Have the right not to be abused.
    2. Have the right to freedom from fear of abuse.
    3. Have the right to choose available options and resources.
    http://www.capsa.org/site/ (Or consider your local domestic violence shelter/rape crisis center.)

    The mission of Sanctuary for Kids is to improve the lives of children around the world who need protection and are in crisis – those who are exploited, dispossessed and threatened. S4K was founded by Amanda Tapping, Damian Kindler, and Jill Bodie through their connection to the television series Sanctuary. http://www.sanctuaryforkids.org/

  58. My charity is actually one I work for. It’s JCRS, or Jewish Children’s Regional Service, at http://jcrs.org. We offer college scholarships, Hanukkah presents for needy children, camp scholarships, and special needs assistance to families who live in the seven state region of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. We’re based out of New Orleans, and we have also offered disaster relief assistance and gathered together Christmas packages for needy families directly after Katrina.

    For the non-religious inclined, The St. Bernard Project is still in the city, helping to rebuild houses one by one. http://www.stbernardproject.org/ There are still people who need assistance in making livable homes for themselves in New Orleans.

  59. Glad to see a few other animal groups out there.

    My charity is the Wildcat Creek Wildlife Center (http://wildcatwildlifecenter.org), a wildlife rehabilitation and education center dedicated to rehabilitating injured and orphaned wild animals and returning them to the wild. We take in animals from all over Indiana, USA. We have state and federal permits for all native wildlife species, and are currently working on building a large, circular flyway suitable for the rehabilitation of Eagles. Any donations of time, money, or supplies are welcome and encouraged! We are staffed entirely by volunteers and funded entirely through donations and fundraisers.

  60. I’m joining the fight with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® in its search to cure pediatric cancer and other catastrophic diseases. I ask that you join me. My company, Coyote Logistics, has set a goal of raising $100,000 by December 31st. We’re more than halfway there.

    Here is how you can help:
    • $10 can provide two medical teaching dolls
    • $20 is enough to cover the cost of one bone marrow needle
    • $30 can provide a daily meal card
    • $55 can provide one complete blood count test
    • $85 can provide a pair of crutches
    • $150 can provide one night of family housing


    Thank you for supporting a great cause!

  61. I work with an all-volunteer organization called the Elf Louise Christmas Project, which has been delivering gifts to underprivileged children since 1969. It is an extremely grassroots project – volunteers come to wrap gifts and dress up as Santa Claus to take the presents directly to the kids. It has a long history, and often we’ll see people coming to donate and volunteer that benefited as children. It’s a great cause! Thanks for the chance to share.

  62. I always give to ReMind.org which helps soldiers with traumatic brain injuries. This type of injury is often the result of bombs and because there may be not outward signs of injury is often under-reported. Bob Woodruff started this after his devastating brain injury in Iraq and his realization that because of the excellent care he received he is now working for ABC again even if not the evening news anchor. He wants to ensure the common soldier receives the best care possible.

  63. http://www.thehotline.org/ – national abuse hot line – After recently housing an abuse victim for a year, I learned more than I wanted to know about this horrific problem. Call them, get help now, your problem is not unique and they CAN help!!

    http://www.plannedparenthood.org/ – The single best way to reduce the number of abortions is to support free or cheap birth control options for women.

    http://www.pancan.org/ – My mom died from pancreatic cancer this May. She complained how this cancer was little funded by the american cancer society and that we should go directly to the source. She fought until she could fight no more. RIP

    Christmas is supposed to be about the spirit of giving. And what is more powerful than giving to help those who can not help themselves?

    Thank you John Scalzi and family. You never stop giving, all year round.

  64. First, I’d like to thank John for the charity contest he ran earlier this year, in which $10,000 was raised for his local library. That reminded me that access to public libraries is an important part of my vision for the future, so we donated $500 to our local library. I recommend others who believe that reading and learning are vital to an informed citizenry consider doing the same.

    I’d also like to recommend a charity that we’ve become involved with through our church. (Don’t worry; it’s nonsectarian.) It’s family promise. Check it out. I think you’ll agree it’s worthwhile.


  65. Smile Train. My cousin’s son John was born with a cleft palate, and (unrelated to that fact) he died at only 9 weeks. There is a donation page set up in his memory here: http://support.smiletrain.org/site/TR/Events/General?pxfid=9501&fr_id=1030&pg=fund but of course one can donate without it being in memory of a child you didn’t know.

    It only takes about $250 to rebuild a child’s mouth when they have this condition. Even better, they strive to train local doctors to do the work.

  66. I would like to recommend a non-profit organization in a one specific county in Miami County Ohio. The Health Partners Free Clinic is just that, a free clinic for uninsured and under-insured just for Miami County residents. I am a volunteer and I am amazed at how many people have jobs that are part time or full time with no insurance (such as truck drivers). We give free services such as the ability to see our drs. who volunteer their time; assist with medications; refer to other specialties and among things. We are non-govermental, supported through grants and donations only. If you live in our are, please consider assisting the Health Partners Free Clinic! The link is: www. health partnersclinic.org.

  67. I just want to second the recommendation of http://www.childsplaycharity.org

    If you’ve ever known anyone who had to have an extended hospital stay, you know how great it is to have a diversion not only from the physical pain, but also from the mental anguish and uncertainty of those stressful times.

    I love the work Child’s Play does, so just wanted to share!

  68. “Food Not Bombs shares free vegan and vegetarian meals with the hungry in over 1,000 cities around the world to protest war, poverty and the destruction of the environment. With over a billion people going hungry each day how can we spend another dollar on war?”
    ( http://www.foodnotbombs.net/ )

    I can’t feed every homeless person I see, but I’m happy to help Food Not Bombs do it!
    Google “Food Not Bombs” to find a chapter in your area.

  69. I am a very big fan of First Book, http://www.firstbook.org , which gives NEW books to kids who don’t have them. They are a very efficient organization which puts 97 cents of every dollar into their programs. So far they have donated 85 million books. Also, if you are connected with a title one school in any way, please tell them about First Book– it’s a great way for those schools to get NEW books at very very reduced cost.

  70. Hello all!

    I’d like to put in a plug for Cerimon House. I was one of the Board members of this Portland based charity until time constraints forced me to retire earlier this year. Cerimon House, named after the place of healing in Shakespeare’s Pericles, is a sanctuary for the humanities. Cerimon House focuses on four main areas of helping the community. It will be a place for Creativity, Curiosity, Community, and Ceremony.

    Cerimon House is currently raising the funds to buy a building which they plan to then be self sufficient in its running. The vision is greater than even that, however, and they are striving to create a model for other communities throughout the US.

    Thank you for your consideration and all the best,

  71. I’m shocked no one has mentioned charity:water. 100% of the donations go to providing clean safe drinking water for people in many countries around the world. They say it only takes $5,000 to drill a well that provides water for 250 people, so even small donations go a long way. (Their operating expenses are funding separately.)

    Also there is Kiva.org, which is not strictly speaking a charity, because you get your money back over time, but it is still a wonderful way to help hardworking people get a leg up in the world.

  72. Thank you for allowing us to share here, John.

    I’d like to highlight a non-profit that offers the financial means to get treatment for teens and young adults who struggle with addiction: http://henrygranju.org/

    “Henry Louis Granju was a much loved 18 year old boy who lost his battle with drug addiction on May 31, 2010. In Henry’s honor, his family has launched Henry’s Fund.
    Those of us who donate our time, talents, and money to Henry’s Fund believe that those who want help for addiction should be able to get that help, regardless of income or insurance status. Henry’s Fund is a nonprofit fund which was created to provide meaningful assistance in paying addiction treatment costs for young people aged 12-20.”

    Henry’s Fund recently awarded a grant to a local treatment center in honor of the police officers and detectives who work to combat the drug epidemic in Knox County, TN: http://mamapundit.com/2011/11/stay-tuned-today-for-an-exciting-announcement/

  73. In March, I gained two more little cousins. Within their first week they were both diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Luckily for them, their parents live in Tuscaloosa where one of the best early intervention schools for children with special needs is located. The University of Alabama Rise School accepts students with disabilities as well as those of typical development. http://riseschool.ua.edu/ and a video which my little cousins (look for the twin babies) are featured: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwkcxFOhwW8

  74. So many worthwhile charities! I haven’t seen one of my favourite charities mentioned here though. Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and related dementias affect many people and with the Baby Boomer generation reaching their senior years the number of people with the disease will escalate. There is no known cure and the available medications for treatment don’t work for long. Meanwhile families try to care for their loved one until the job becomes overwhelming. The Alzheimer’s Society in Canada (and I’m sure other organizations across the world) provide funding for research and also give help to caregivers and persons with AD.

  75. I recommend a donation to your local legal aid agency. These agencies provide free legal services to people who need help with things like foreclosures, domestic violence injunctions, homelessness, Unemployment Compensation. Currently, legal services programs across the country are facing steep funding cuts and are losing the ability to provide these services that are absolutely critical for many people who cannot afford to hire an attorney. The program I work for in Central Florida is http://www.clsmf.org. You can find the legal services program in your area on the Legal Services Corporation’s website, http://www.lsc.gov.

  76. My son and I do multiple fundraisers for Doctor’s Without Borders every year. He is committed to helping them achieve their goal of providing health care in areas where they might not otherwise have it, and in areas recovering from natural disasters.

    Also, we buy groceries for our local food bank every week. Check at your grocery store – they may have a program set up to make it really easy for you to donate.

  77. If you are in San Diego County (and even if you’re not!)- Mama’s Kitchen. They prepare and deliver food to people who are afflicted with AIDS or cancer.

  78. If you’re in the southeastern Michigan area, I have to get in a plug for my employer and my favorite local charity, the Humane Society of Huron Valley. We were just awarded “Outstanding Large Shelter” by the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance for having the highest “save rate” among all large open admission animal shelters in the state: nearly 81%!

    Our cages are almost always full, and right now we’re looking at losing a quarter of a million dollars of funding for 2012 thanks to a contract dispute with the county board of commissioners.

    You can learn more about us here: http://www.hshv.org

    Please remember that ALL humane societies are independent organizations, and do not receive funding from outside organizations–HSUS is not an umbrella organization, nor are there umbrella humane societies in individual states. So if you want to donate to your local animal shelter, make sure that’s who your donation is going to!

  79. http://www.toysfortots.org/

    As a former Marine, I support this charity beyond what I can really afford. As someone who grew up poor but not as poor as others, I appreciate what they do. As a kid at heart, I support this charity with my heart as well as my head. If your head leads you, Toys For Tots has very low overhead and the vast majority of its money goes straight to kids.

    I donate cash, and whenever I see a toy drop-off in a store I’ll buy some stuff and drop it in the box. This week there were a bunch of Buy One Get One Free toys at the local Walgreens, so I spent most of my walking-around money for the next two weeks on toys and dropped them in the box. I’ll eat peanut butter sandwiches for a week to let a few kids unwrap some cool stuff on Christmas morning.

  80. Hoppy Holidays from House Rabbit Resource Network in Austin, Texas! We care for 200 injured and abandoned domestic rabbits in our stand alone rabbit shelter. It takes a lot of love and money to provide care for the bunnies until we find their forever home. We rely solely on donations to pay our bills. Visit our web site to learn more about caring for rabbits and make tax deductable donations! http://www.rabbitresource.org.

  81. I work with Distributed Proofreaders, which produces electronic editions of public domain books for Project Gutenberg, which distributes them for free. While monetary donations are welcome, what we really need is labor. At DP, you can contribute by proofreading as little as a single page. Done once a day, or as often as you can manage, and multiplied by hundreds or thousands of volunteers, even a small contribution can add up over time. And of course some of us get hooked and end up contributing more than just a few pages.

  82. Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty (CHILD) http://www.childrenshealthcare.org/ fights religion-based child abuse and child neglect. You have probably read news stories about children who die from treatable illnesses, such as diabetes, because their parents believe “God doesn’t want us to go to doctors” or similar nonsense. Thanks to determined religious lobbying, laws in many U.S. states give religiously motivated parents a pass on this sort of neglect, by providing exemptions to laws for preventive measures (hearing tests, vision screening, bike helmets) and medical care. Arkansas and West Virginia provide religious defenses for murder. CHILD fights to protect children by fighting these exemptions. All children should be protected so that they can grow up to make medical decisions for themselves.

  83. The Animal Rescue Corps truly embodies their motto, “Compassion in Action”. I had the honor of volunteering at their temporary shelters during several puppy mill rescues in Texas earlier this year. They are dedicated, professional, and highly effective. If you are an animal lover, I strongly recommend you support them.


  84. I’m another that recommends Child’s Play as a charity, but I also wanted to mention Operation Paperback, which sends new & used books to US troops stationed overseas, and The Geek Group, which provides science education and opportunities to the public.

  85. I like Trees for the Future, which helps communities re-plant trees. Not only are they re-foresting devastated areas, but forests provide food and building materials for locals, prevent soil erosion, replenish underground aquifers, and help cool off a planet with a slight fever. http://www.plant-trees.org

  86. We contribute to Episcopal Relief & Development, as they support working towards the U.N. Millennium Development Goals – which aim to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015. ER-D is one of the most effective, and best administered, charities in the world. A full 89% of donations go directly to programs and only 3% to administration. They work with local organizations as often as they can, and are focused on reducing poverty. Proselytizing is not on their agenda.

  87. City Kitties is a West Philly cat rescue organization that recently got some publicity over their rescue of Clark Kent. Like most animal rescue organizations, they can use help making ends meet and savings cats.

    Mommy’s Light Lives On is an amazing organization that helps kids and teens keep alive simple traditions that they enjoyed with their (deceased) mothers. My sister started volunteering for this organization after we lost our own mother to cancer, and I am always amazed at the volunteers who do such beautiful work to help dying mothers and their families to create traditions – and then make sure they happen year after year.

    Philadelphia’s Toys for Tots was, as of last week, running out of toys for the kids. It’s Philly local, but if anyone is reading and from the area, you can find drop-off locations at this link.

    Finally, I would encourage everyone to look into your local non-profit hospice organization, as they do amazing work year-round, and can always use the financial love.

  88. Please consider any local hospice organization. The one near and dear to my heart is Hospice of Northeast Missouri, http://www.nmrhn.org/members/hospice.asp They cared not only for the patient, my father, but for the entire family in an amazingly compassionate way, all at no cost to my mother. All hospital supplies, nursing and even prescription drugs were provided for my father which mitigated the financial burden on my mother allowing her to worry less about money and enjoy more of my father’s last days.

  89. Southern Poverty Law Center does amazing work with fighting hate crime and getting legal help for those too poor to afford it otherwise. Working against discrimination, immigrants’ issues, and teaching tolerance (they have an excellent resources Website for teachers) are all on their agenda.

    House Rabbit Society has been mentioned in this space. They have a listing of local chapters so you can get involved in your own area in rescuing rabbits from shelters and from abusive situations and getting them place in loving homes.

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