Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A challenge to give

My appearance on NPR yesterday focused on a $50 billion fraud by one of Wall Street's biggest investors, who bilked everyone from sports team owners to charitable foundations out of their money. One charity in Boston even had to close its doors and fire all its staff as a result.

Thievery aside, the talk about charity got me thinking a bout how difficult it must be for those who are struggling and those who help them at this point in history. There's a perfect storm of bad circumstances for the needy: millions of the newly jobless are hitting the streets just as the most people are cutting back even on personal necessities, much less charitable contributions.

So I've resolved to make a donation, not much -- maybe $50 or so -- to some charity that directly helps the needy with food, clothing or shelter, before the year ends. I'm not sure which charity that'll be, so I'm taking suggestions.

In the meantime, I'm challenging everyone who reads this to do the same, no matter the amount. People are suffering through a rough economy, and even if you can only spare $5, that $5 could help someone in desperate need. I'll make another post once I've done the deed, and in the meantime, please share where and what you've given on the comments page.


Butterrfly said...

Here in DC a personal favorite of mine is the Capital Area Food Bank. I volunteer with them in person every now and then, sorting and packing groceries. $1 == 3 meals. How they make the magic work I have no idea. But given the inside operation that I have witness and been a part of I know that my donations are well spent.


Velvet Jones said...

A few years ago, I was laid off. It took me 9 months to find another job. Luckily I had savings to fall back on. During that search I volunteered a few days a week at a Chicago organization called Inspiration Corporation. This is a group that helps people get out of homelessness with dignity and respect. Not everyone qualifies for the program, they have to be recommended in. Once part of it, they given education and resources (coaching on how to pay bills on time, help in finding low-cost housing, how to be a good neighbor, access to a computer lab, etc.) to live in a way most of us take for granted. Their hallmark is Inspiration Cafe, a restaurant run by guests in the program.

I chose this group to volunteer a reminder that a lot of us are only a paycheck away from being homeless ourselves. It was a great experience and I would recommend it to anyone. While trying to find a job while laid off is a lot of work, I do not believe it's like a "full-time job" like some people say it is. I have more than enough to to volunteer and I think it's a great way for people to help out in a non-monetary sort of way. Could you imagine the impact if everyone that got laid off this year volunteered for even 1 hour a week while they were looking for work? While charities would be missing money, I can't help but believe quite a bit could be made up with sweat equity.

All that said, I choose a different charity to donate to this year: Rolling Dog Animal Sanctuary. A couple from Seattle quit their day jobs a few years ago to open a ranch to take in severely disabled animals so they can live out the rest of their lives. It's just them and one other person taking care of dogs, cats, and even horses. I save up all year and managed to donate $300 to them. I'm an animal lover and figured they could use the cash, especially times like these where people so often overlook the needs of animals (do a Google search on what's happening to people's pets as they go into foreclosure).