Dear readers: This is the time of year when our thoughts turn toward others as we search for something tangible to celebrate our relationships. The downside to this season is our focus on possessions, when so many people go without.
Here is my annual gift guide for readers who are looking to give differently this year. Please take these recommendations as a starting point, as you look for ways to give that reflect your own values. I use charitynavigator.org to search for and research charities, and highly recommend their rating system as a guide.
This is a treacherous time for refugees and other vulnerable populations around the world; the following charities primarily serve populations outside the United States.
Save the Children: Founded in 1919 to aid children in war-ravaged Europe, Save the Children continues to advocate for the rights of children worldwide — often in times of great crisis. They offer a “gift catalogue” where you can buy goats, pigs, sheep and honeybees for at-risk families; you can also sponsor a child, in this country or overseas. savethe
International Rescue Committee: Founded in 1933 at the suggestion of Albert Einstein to aid Germans suffering under Hitler, the IRC responds quickly to global crises, aiding the most vulnerable citizens. Through their gift program you can donate warm blankets, a year of school or (for $25), portable solar lights and chargers for refugee families on the move. rescue.org
Blinknow: Small-town New Jersey girl Maggie Doyne went on an overseas trip after high school that changed scores of lives. In remote Surkhet, Nepal, with help from her neighbors back home, Doyne founded a home and school that now serves hundreds of children and their parents. You can buy sandals, medicine or a year’s supply of diapers for the babies they take in. blinknow.org
Doctors Without Borders: This international, independent and politically impartial humanitarian organization sends medical teams and relief supplies to treat and help people made vulnerable by war or national disaster. Ninety percent of their budget comes from private donations. doctorswithout
According to Census Bureau statistics, there are currently 21.8 million military veterans in the United States. Government statistics estimate that approximately 47,725 veterans are homeless on any given night.
Homes for Our Troops: The mission of Homes for Our Troops is to build specially adapted homes and give them, mortgage-free, to severely injured veterans. hfotusa.org
The Warriors and Quiet Waters Foundation:
Its vision is to help wounded service members with traumatic injuries heal from their wounds through the experience of fishing and floating on the pristine rivers of Montana. The foundation is now hoping to build a lodge, which can accommodate the physical challenges of the disabled veterans during their time on the river. warriorsandquiet
Donors Choose: Children benefit when teachers can design and deliver special supplies and projects to their classrooms. On the Donors Choose website, teachers ask for materials and donors deliver. donorschoose.org
Artists for Humanity: This Boston-based organization connects young people with creative jobs. afhboston.org
Mr. Hollands Opus: Band instruments for school children! Everybody wins. mhopus.org
Reach Out and Read: Doctors promote literacy by incorporating books into patient care and by giving “prescriptions” for reading. An estimated 4.5 million children benefit from Reach out and Read programs each year.
According to a 2014 study by Feeding America, its network of food banks provides service to 46.5 million people across the United States, including 12 million children and 7 million seniors. feedingamerica.org
Meals on Wheels: This community-based program delivers nutrition and companionship to more than 2 million elderly patrons each day. Please donate money or volunteer at your local pantry or Meals on Wheels. Enter your ZIP code to support a feeding program in your community: mealsonwheelsamerica.orgAmy Dickinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.