Charities fall into two categories, places you give money to and places you give time to. Below are our family’s favorites:
Places to Give Money: Smile Train
The Smile Train is a kids’ charity. They perform operations that repair cleft palette. Some of these kids have never had a normal meal. Never. Imagine not being able to swallow or chew. It’s a horrible life. Imagine children and adults being afraid of you because your appearance is odd. That’s what these little children go through every minute of every hour of every day. So our first pick for charities to give money to is the Smile Train.
Places to Give Money: HSUS, ASPCA, AAVS
Many people confuse the top three animal charities with each other. None of them are parent organizations of local humane societies or animal shelters. So if you are blessed to live in an area with a local Humane Society then please donate to them.
HSUS is the abbreviation for the Humane Society of the United States. Their mission is to:
- advocate for better laws to protect animals
- conduct campaigns to reform industries (to prevent cruelty to animals)
- provide animal rescue and emergency response
- investigate cases of animal cruelty
- care for animals through sanctuaries and wildlife rehabilitation centers
ASPCA is The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. They are the first organization created to prevent cruelty to animals and that is their primary goal.
AAVS is the American Anti-Vivisection Society. Vivisection is animal experimentation, the worst form of animal cruelty. Today there are alternatives to every type of animal experimentation. Testing on animals has been proven repeatedly to give false results and to not work. There are alternatives. They work to make sure every animal’s voice is heard.
Places to Give Time: Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels is a program that delivers meals to seniors who are homebound. When people age in our country, they are often left with no family, no money, and no transportation. Food becomes an issue, one that can mean the difference between a quality life and one plagued with illness. Meals on Wheels usually needs help cooking, driving, and delivering meals. Use the national website to locate a local center. If they don’t need you to volunteer, then choose another charity.
I don’t give money to Meals on Wheels because I want my dollars to count for something I care about. I don’t want them spent on some pipe dream for a national policy (that will never pass). I want them spent on actually delivering food to local seniors. Like the AARP, this is an organization that often gets sidetracked spending money on lobbying congressmen rather than actually doing good deeds. More often than not these bills they try to pass end up hurting my children. So I volunteer my time, but not my money.
Places to Give Time: Food Bank
The Food Bank is a wonderful charity to volunteer for. I don’t donate money because it gets caught up in administration overhead. I donate my time. If they don’t need help cooking, gathering, sorting, or procuring food, then I walk through my neighborhood, get everyone’s extra canned goods and boxed goods, and take them to the local food bank. I’ll stick a coffee can donation jar in a local store and take the donations to the local food bank when I get a chance. These are easy activities to get your kids to help with. They are non-threatening, unlike working in a soup kitchen at a homeless shelter, which can be scary and downright dangerous.
Places to Give Time: Homeless Shelters
Among the needy who need help are not just seniors and homeless, but college students. Most of them are away from home for the first time and without money. The first thing they forget about is food. The Homeless Shelter Directory gives locations in every state for homeless shelters and food banks, many which serve local universities. There is no better way to teach your child how fortunate they are than to show them a world where children are not so fortunate. It gives them an opportunity to help kids not so different from themselves.
Originally published on November 23, 2013.