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CHARLAINES FAVORITE CAUSES AND CHARITIES
I know all of you have charities or causes that you prefer because you think they’re doing a great job helping people, either directly or indirectly. Here are a few of mine, and I’ll tell you why I think they’re great.
I give enthusiastically to Kiva. Here’s why. Your money is used over and over to make small loans to independent businesswomen and men across the world. They repay the loan. Then you can re-loan that money. If you have a special fondness for helping farmers buy more livestock or grain, you can find them. If you have a special interest in helping women who run tiny grocery stores and want to buy more stock, you can find them. They may live in Sri Lanka or Peru or Kenya. Like another favorite charity, Heifer International, this money helps people who are anxious to help themselves. And re-loaning the same money? Can’t be beat.
Every Christmas, my children give animals to people who need them. Every family who needs animals to raise for food, for wool, as a working animal, gets what they need from Heifer International, and every family is taught how to take care of the animal or animals; in return, they agree to pass along one of the animal’s offspring to another family. As Heifer puts it (better than I could) “they provide a family in need with the dignity of feeding themselves. . . the means to pay clothing . . . an education . . . doctors’ visits . . . and decent shelter.” I tell my children every Christmas that this year one of them gave a flock of ducks, one of them a goat, one of them a pig, to someone who otherwise had nothing. That’s pretty cool.
Doctors Without Borders (Medicins Sans Frontieres)
DWB (MSF) is an international organization that crosses the borders of any country to offer medical and humanitarian aid in the event of any disaster, including famine and war. Members of Doctors Without Borders are doctors, nurses, logistics staff, and sanitation engineers. This is a great, great organization.
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity helps low-income families obtain their own homes. Through donations of materials and labor – and sometimes land – families who have applied and been selected through a screening process are enabled to build their home, helped by a mixture of volunteers, both skilled and unskilled. The families are required to put in hours of work, so when the homes are completed they’ll have the skills to make basic repairs themselves. Habitat really works, and it’s a great way for people without much time to donate a morning here and there to help in a wonderful cause. Lots of church groups turn up to help when a Habitat house is going up in their vicinity.
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
You should click on this link and read the fascinating history of this organization. You’ll be enlightened about the history of animal rights in this country, and about the strides the ASPCA has made in its struggle to improve the lot of America’s animals. As deeper thinkers than I am have remarked, the way we treat our animals says a lot about our society.
Please have your pets neutered.
The Crime Lab Project
To people who’ve been watching all the CSI programs on TV for years, this will come as a shocker: not all crime labs are clean and beautiful with up-to-date equipment. And most crime labs in America are backed up to the choking point with cases that can’t be processed because there isn’t enough money for more qualified personnel to do the processing. For example, until very recently Arkansas was FOUR YEARS BEHIND in processing evidence on some cases. When you or someone you love has been the victim of a crime, do you want justice delayed because of a personnel shortage? This organization is just getting off the ground, but I think its goals are worthy, and I think we can help.
These are just five groups I know of that have great goals and are working in a reasonable and effective manner to reach them. There are hundreds of other organizations that do great work -- I haven’t even gotten around to mentioning the Red Cross – and I know all of them are worthy of your donations of money and time.
® 2013 Charlaine Harris