At this time of year, we sometimes find ourselves searching for the perfect gift for loved ones who seem to have it all. Why not skip the extra present and give on their behalf to someone in need of basic necessities? These charities focus on delivering donations to those who need them most. Help a child through emotional trauma; advance literacy in developing countries; or provide a simple item that may be someone’s gateway to a better life.
Printed materials are a commodity we take for granted. In Africa, many children never attend school and others share a single textbook with their entire class. Education should be a great equalizer; Books for Africa is trying to better it. Devoted to all ages, the organization has helped stock classrooms, school libraries, community resource centers and adult literacy programs, and while they have sent more than 38 million new and used books so far, there is still much to do.
Providing food to those with none is a noble cause, but the relief of a single meal is short-lived. Rather than putting food directly into hungry mouths, Heifer International helps impoverished areas feed themselves by turning cash gifts into farm animals. A heifer, chickens or a beehive become milk, eggs and honey, and this nutritious food can become a family’s source of income. Or give to a project that provides clean water or home necessities. By supporting agriculture and self-reliance, you’re also providing for the Earth.
Most of us own multiple pairs of shoes, one for every occasion. But imagine if you didn’t own even one pair and that walking was your primary mode of transportation. Consider the potential harm to your feet after years spent walking barefoot. Founded as a disaster relief organization, Soles4Souls distributes shoes and clothing around the world. The organization provides relief to children who have been prevented from attending school, adults prevented from working, and the millions exposed to potential pain and injury from not having shoes.
In the midst of fear, plush toys provide children with a sense of security. Started in 1997, SAFE connects stuffed animals with children experiencing emotional or traumatic situations, helping them feel cared for through the stress. This network is vast, reaching across the United States into foster systems, emergency responders and shelters, and sometimes overseas into war-torn areas. New or gently used stuffed animals can be given to a SAFE chapter or urgent need near you.
Children born into poverty are often at a lifelong disadvantage to their peers; as they develop, their parents lack the supplies and support to care for them properly. Room to Grow works to avoid this by partnering with pregnant parents and serving them until the child is 3 years old. They teach parenting education and on-track child development, and they nurture families through community resources and the donation of clean and good-condition used books, blankets and toys.