Since today is officially the kickoff of Christmas/holiday shopping, it seems like the appropriate time to highlight a few organizations that would benefit from being placed on your gift-giving list. As we did the last two years, we're picking a nonprofit (or two) and donating the value of one night of Chanukah gifts for Bambina. Last year was DC Central Kitchen (which feeds and trains homeless individuals in food service) and Food & Friends (which provides meals to people with chronic illnesses such as AIDS or cancer). We do this because we want her to maintain perspective in life, to know that she can always do something to better the community and the world, and that--god forbid!--she can live without a gift or two to make it happen. As she gets older she will play a more direct role in picking the charity. This year, obviously, it's gotta be
Dana Farber's bone marrow transplant research program.
Here are some others you may wish to consider for your year-end (tax-deductible!) giving:
The World Jewish Watch Backpack Project
This project provides a backpack of school and personal supplies to Darfurian kids in a refugee camp in Chad run by the IRC. It allows them to continue their schooling while displaced. I don't know how to save Darfur and often feel like cursing the darkness as a result, but perhaps provisioning one child for his or her education may light the proverbial small candle.
Bright Horizons Foundation
BHF creates Bright Spaces for kids at homeless and crisis shelters. These playrooms offer kids in crisis the chance to just be kids.
Half The Sky
HTS is an amazing organization that works to better the lives and futures of children in Chinese orphanages who are not adopted. Its work includes building facilities, training caregivers, improving child nutrition, and most importantly, recording each child's achievements and milestones in a "memory book" for them to take with them throughout life--a personal history for a child who would otherwise lack one.
There are many thousands of charities out there to fit any interest your family may have. And because I've been a hardworking fundraiser myself for some great organizations, I'm sending you to
CharityNavigator'sTop Ten Lists of biggest hoarders, most in the red, highly rated, etc. Type in a name or a keyword such as "sailing" or "liver", it'll give you a list of relevant orgs and tell you how they spend their (YOUR) money. By all means identify one, research it, and support it in lieu of buying a couple of gifts. Whether or not you believe in Santa, it's still important to "be good for goodness' sake."