by Molly Barber, Photo by Paula Watts
The holidays are a special time of the year and while many of us enjoy them, this particular season can be rough for others. But there are ways we can all do our part to share the love and spread the kindness this year. I’m here to share some organizations with you whether you are looking to give locally, nationally or internationally.
Let’s start at a local level. Most counties have local Soroptimist International organizations. This is an amazing club who’s mission is “to better the lives of women and children locally and globally.” I have worked closely with the Susanville group and have been blow away with the work these women do to help those in the community. Every year they adopt families and senior citizens at Christmas and give them their whole Christmas- presents, dinner, tree, everything. They also give out $6,000 in scholarships and awards to women and children annually. They host teen esteem workshops and they support other local organizations like Lassen Senior Services, Grace Gables women’s recovery house and Lassen Family Services. This is a great organization to donate to, volunteer with, or join.
Another great holiday charity event that is in most towns is Toys For Tots. This event reaches children as young as infants and ranges all the way up to teens. The recipients will receive toys, books, stuffed animals, stocking stuffers and food. Another big bonus to this event is that all the money that is donated goes right back into the local economy. This long standing program has helped bring joy to numerous families who otherwise might not have had a very special holiday.
Then there’s Resilience Rising, which is a safe house for children rescued from the depths of sex trafficking. Their mission reads, “to reduce the incidence and prevalence of the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the United States through our mission of providing opportunities for safety, healing, and empowerment to survivors.” This safe house offers a home to those kids that might have never seen or experienced Christmas. They help the survivors “develop the coping skills and life skills needed to break the inter-generational cycle of abuse and poverty that drives this tragedy.” You can read more about Resilience Rising and how to help at their website, www.resilience-rising.org.
Maybe you want to hit two birds with one stone and help people while shopping for Christmas gifts and yes, this is a possibility. There are organizations like Greater Good that offer cool products that are fair trade, sustainable, and fair wage. “At the Greater Good Shop, every purchase gives back to a worthy cause, at no extra cost to you!” as explained on their website. “We believe that no good action is too small, and want to provide you with simple tools to heal the world. Since 1999, your online actions have given $40 million to charities around the world!” Some of the awesome causes your money goes towards are hunger, breast cancer, animals, veterans, autism, alzheimer’s, diabetes, literacy, and the rainforest. You can buy awesome gifts for your loved ones for the holidays while at the same time doing your part to help make the world a little better.
Along that same line is an organization called Sudara. They offer clothing and goods and not only is the money going back into the organization that helps pull women and children out of sex trafficking and slavery but the products are crafted by the brave souls who escaped. “We believe in dignified, living wage employment. Our model is not based on a percentage of price per piece. Our sewing centers in India provide wages for the women that are, on average, double the fair-trade baseline for their work. The women also have access to job training and placement services that afford them the freedom to choose their own pathways.” They offer clothing for men, women, and children along with other fun things. And as if this organization wasn’t cool enough they also invest in other amazing programs for women and children, “providing education for the children of the women, safe housing for those needing to escape abuse, and health and wellness services — all of this in the context of a caring, restorative community that will help her to rebuild her life and re-integrate into a larger community.” www.sudara.org
The last organization I want to leave you with is the Lift Ministry in Haiti. They work to improve the lives of women and children in Haiti. They have started schools, built churches and helped women start their own businesses to take care of their families. I have worked first hand with this organization and know that every dollar donated goes straight into the empowerment or betterment of those this organization comes in contact with. In fact, for $200 you can send a child to school for the year, this includes supplies and a uniform for them. I have been a proud sponsor of a little girl there for two years now and get updates on her from the organization frequently. You can visit their website www.liftkids.wordpress.com to see more of what they are all about and ways to help.
Please don’t think that these are your only or best options. In fact, I encourage you to look into other organizations and causes close to your heart. It can be easy to get discouraged when looking into the problems facing us today but try to remember it’s not about you changing the world, it’s about you changing someone’s world. Helen Keller once said, “I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.”
Happy Holidays my friends. Let’s go out and do something.