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How to Help During the Holidays

Posted by Kara Baskin  November 25, 2012 04:00 PM

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Tomorrow morning, I'll be on NECN talking about various ways to give back during the holidays, because tomorrow is Giving Tuesday (not to be confused with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or OMGISplitMyPants Saturday). The spot I taped was pretty short, and there wasn’t time to discuss all the amazing organizations that could really benefit over the coming weeks—and year-round, for that matter—so I asked friends to write to me with their favorite charities and organizations. Ahead is a list of various worthy causes that my community really loves. (As for me, I’m hoping to take Andrew to a local nursing home in the coming weeks to visit residents and pass out gifts.) Check out this list, and feel free to add your own special charity in the comments. To everyone who chimed in and contributed, thank you! Donate with your time or your money, but most of all, your heart.

The Jett Foundation: Their mission is to increase worldwide awareness of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, with the purpose of raising and appropriating funds for research that will realize a cure for this fatal disease and ensure that children like Jett have the opportunity to enjoy a full life.

The Home for Little Wanderers: This organization, America’s oldest child and family service agency, comprises a network of services for needy children ranging in age from newborns to young adults, including behavioral health, therapeutic services, and transitions into foster care. One friend rallies a group each holiday season to work a shift at their gift shop, distributing toys. It’s a great company bonding exercise, too.

Angel Flight NE: Angel Flight organizes free flights to men, women, and children requiring medical care. “Earth Angels” are volunteers throughout the Northeast who provide ground transportation for sick patients to and from medical facilities.

Reach Out and Read: This nonprofit promotes early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms nationwide by giving new books to at-risk children and providing parents with information about the importance of reading aloud. The first program started at Boston City Hospital in 1989; today, they reach more than one-third of all children living in poverty in the United States.

Community Servings: Thanks to this organization, homebound, critically ill area residents and their caregivers receive hot, homemade, free meals. They need help packaging and prepping meals, delivering food, assisting with special events, or doing administrative work.

Donors Choose: Ideal for busy folks, Donors Choose links online volunteers with public school teachers. Enter your area code and find out what local schoolteachers need for their classrooms, pick a project, and give any amount to a project that inspires you.

Room to Grow: This organization enriches the lives of children, newborns until age three, born into poverty. Parents receive developmental information, supplies, skills, and crucial support. Donate baby gear and clothing, volunteer at their headquarters, even organize a baby shower and donate the gifts to a family in need.

TADS Teenage Anxiety and Depression Solutions: TADS is a group of people in and around Groton, Massachusetts who actively advocate for mental wellness for young people. The mission of TADS is to raise awareness about mental health issues in our society, especially depression and anxiety, and in so doing, help to prevent suicide. They’re actively seeking donations, especially around the holidays.

Future Chefs: This organization prepares inner-city youth for quality early employment and post-secondary education opportunities in the culinary field and supports them in developing a broad base of transferable skills as they transition into the working world. They’re always seeking mentors and donations.

Partners in Health: Donations to this organization provide crucial care to the poverty-stricken worldwide. Their mission statement is simple: “When a person in Peru, or Siberia, or rural Haiti falls ill, PIH uses all of the means at our disposal to make them well—from pressuring drug manufacturers, to lobbying policy makers, to providing medical care and social services. Just as we would do if a member of our own family—or we ourselves—were ill.”

Boston’s Children’s Chorus: The Boston Children's Chorus brings kids together from all over the Boston area to harmonize socially and through a shared love of music. They keep tuition low and on a sliding scale based on household income, so they rely on the annual support of people who believe in the transformative power of music. Donate online, hear them perform on Tuesday, November 27 at the Copley Square tree-lighting ceremony, and buy their CD, Let’s Be Jolly.

Boston Medical Center Kids Fund: Since 1984, this fund has given hope to needy children throughout the urban area. Their goal is to provide assistance for children’s most basic needs, whether it’s a mattress for a family whose home has been burned to the ground, or special formula for a baby suffering from malnutrition, or funds to help send a city-bound kid to summer camp. Volunteer at event throughout the year or donate to their kids’ fund.

Victim Rights Law Center: The Victim Rights Law Center (VRLC) was established in 2003 as the first nonprofit law center in the nation solely dedicated to serving the needs of rape and sexual assault victims, whose lives could be otherwise devastated and derailed. Donate funds, pro bono legal services, or encourage your workplace to make a corporate donation.

Community Cooks: This Somerville-based network of volunteers whips up home-cooked meals for the most vulnerable people throughout the Boston area. Donate online, or become a cook. Each cook provides one part of a family-style meal, once a month. Purchase the groceries, cook in your own kitchen, and deliver it to a convenient central location.

Second Chances: This Cambridge- and Somerville-based group provides free clothing, shoes, and accessories to people in need throughout these communities. A replenished wardrobe builds self-esteem and opens doors to brighter futures. Since 2005, they have provided free clothing, shoes, accessories and gift cards to more than 2,300 lower income and homeless people in Cambridge and Somerville and recycled or reused over 400,000 pounds of clothing, shoes and accessories.

Last but not least, the Globe Santa delivers gifts to children in need throughout the Boston area. Donate money in honor of a loved one, wrap gifts, attend a fundraising event, or volunteer in person.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Kara Baskin (@kcbaskin) is a Boston-based writer, editor, and mom to Andy. She thinks Sriracha and garlic make everything tastier. She loves Steely Dan and "Murder, She Wrote." Her More »

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