Ten Things Tuesday – December 7

7 Dec

In this season of giving, it’s important to remember the significance and difference you can make by giving back. Today I give you ten favorite charities and non-profits:

1. Harry Potter Alliance. Committed to fighting the Horcruxes found in the real world. They’ve done amazing work for human rights and equality, raising awareness and advocating change for LGBT issues, sending books to children in impoverished countries, etc. They recently won $250,000 in a Chase Community Giving vote on Facebook. They hope to spread love and understanding of all people all over the world, as championed by Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter. As their motto states, The Weapon We Have is Love.

2. AmeriCorps. A national service-learning organization dedicated to getting things done for America, while providing work experience and educational funding for young adults working in their communities. It’s what I’ve been doing with my life for the past year. If you’re looking to change the world, in a small way, you should look into it.

3. Central Asia Institute. Founded by Greg Mortenson, of Three Cups of Tea fame. Promoting peace through education, rather than war. This organization builds schools in the remote Kashmir region of Pakistan, expanding into Afghanistan, as well. It started with just one man, a mountain climber who lost his way, and found his life’s purpose building schools, especially for girls, starting with the small community who saved him. Truly an inspiring story, and a worthy cause.

4. Girl Scouts. You’ve probably heard of it – and the cookies – before. A national program for girls dedicated to building character and lifeskills for the real world. I was a member for 11 years, and even earned my Gold Award (equivalent to the Boy Scout Eagle). It’s a wonderful place for girls to promote community, independent thinking and problem solving, and self-confidence.

5. Kiva. An organization that provides small business loans to entrepreneurs across the world. A really inspiring effort to alleviate poverty. Also promoting mutual respect and dignity for those around us.

6. Project Have Hope. An organization, based in the Boston area, working with women in the Acholi quarter of Uganda. They achieve this by providing small business loans, sponsoring children for educational expenses, and selling handmade beads made by the women living in the quarter. The work they’re doing is really inspiring – I’d love to volunteer or even travel for them someday. You can even buy their beads and jewelry, among other items.

7. Ten Thousand Villages. Not exactly a charity, but a wonderful network of stores that support fair trade, reasonable wages and working conditions for all workers, and handmade goods in developing countries. the profits from these stores benefit artisans around the world. They carry some of the most gorgeous jewelry, accessories, home decor, and gifts. Visit their online store.

8. Global ReLeaf. A branch (pun intended!) of American Forests, this is an effort to plant trees and restore ecosystems damaged by natural disasters and human negligence. Another of their efforts is to beautify and shade urban areas by planting trees and foliage.

9. Americans for the Arts. It’s no surprise that I would support some kind of artistic endeavor. This organization provides support for the arts and their contributions to communities. The visual and performing arts are so important – it’s what makes life worth living.

10. Free Rice. A great, free way that you can not only combat world hunger but also improve your vocabulary. Every right answer you get earns 10 grains of rice donated to the World Food Programme and supports free education for children around the world. It costs absolutely nothing for you, so check it out!

Also, not so much an organization as a foundation, check out mikeroweWORKS, founded by none other than Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs. This foundation is based on promoting the efforts of the men and women he meets on his show – the ones who do the backbreaking dirty work that keeps the country running. They also support trade by providing funds, education, career opportunities, and advocate support for these industries. It’s a really great thing they’re doing – supporting the thousands of workers in those thankless jobs that we don’t consider the importance of.

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