The Christmas season brings about a lot of consumerism and I think it's important we also think about the spiritual meaning of the season and give to others in need as well. I think it will bring you a sense of fulfillment to do good for others. Charities say they get the majority of their donations towards the end of the year. This is the true spirit of Christmas, it's about more than gifts.
I recently read an article called Stop donating canned goods to the food bank which had some interesting arguments I hadn't thought of, but I think one size doesn't fit all for all food banks. It says that food banks get a lot of expired and random food items and that they would prefer cash so they can purchase food in bulk at discounted prices. Maybe food banks could be more specific in what types of food they need most, like things that can make an actual meal instead of pistachio pudding.
I've researched the charities I've donated to by looking them up at CharityNavigator.org which ensures that the bulk of individual donations goes to programming or meeting a specific need of the donor's choice. Check with your employer to see if they match your charitable donations, my previous employer did. There's so many charities out there so I hope you give to a charity that supports a cause you feel strongly about. For me I feel that the worst humanitarian emergency of our time is in Aleppo, Syria. The civil war has been waging for 4 years now and over 10 million refugees have fled the country. It's hard for me to watch the coverage on the news every night. Did you know Syria has winter? It's 40 degree there right now (30F at night) while they're fleeing their homes and living in tents. Last Wednesday the Eiffel Tower went dark in solidarity with the people of Aleppo. This article shows where all the Syrian refugees have gone in the USA. The first charity I gave to is a local one, but the rest all support Syrian refugees as well as other causes.
Wreaths Across America
Each December their mission is to remember and honor our veterans by laying wreaths on the graves of our country's fallen heroes. You can participate at Arlington National Cemetery by laying a wreath on graves as well as over 1000 other locations all over the US. If you can't participate, you can donate money for a wreath - $15. A couple weeks ago they said hadn't raised enough money to put wreaths on all the graves. From the article, "Three years ago, Hanson was placing a wreath for a special request in a section that had not been covered when he ran into a father visiting the cemetery who asked Hanson, "What about my son?" "I said to myself, 'How many other people come to Arlington and see these thousands and thousands of wreaths and there's not one on their loved one's marker?'"
This is not a government agency. Last Saturday they had over 44,000 volunteers in the freezing rain and lay 245,000 wreaths. 30 trucks brought in wreaths from Maine. Volunteers had to walk up to 40 minutes to the back of the cemetery just to find an empty grave to lay a wreath on. You can also volunteer with the clean up in January, a date hasn't been set yet.
Save the Children
Save the Children invests in children around the world. On their website you can sponsor a child or shop their catalog to purchase for example a goat which provide protein-rich dairy to satisfy hungry children. The charity also provides emergency food for Syrian children, and supports education in Syrian refugee camps among other things.
They provide emergency shelter and vital supplies to support communities around the world overwhelmed by disaster and humanitarian crisis including survivors of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, the earthquake in Nepal, the typhoon in the Philippines, and tornadoes in Oklahoma.
"ShelterBox has been providing emergency shelter and supplies to families affected by the Syrian crisis in Iraq Kurdistan, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria When the water pumping station at Al-Khafsah in Aleppo failed, cutting off water supply to the city, panic and chaos ensued, with people resorting to drinking from puddles in the streets. Hospitals and schools were also attacked, with at least nine medical facilities bombed in Aleppo and Idlib during July 2016. ShelterKits contain a variety of essential items such as jerry cans, mattresses, tarps, solar lights, mosquito nets, kitchen sets, and water purification equipment"
American Refugee Committee
"In Syria, we remain committed to the most marginalized in society who have lost everything, but who are trying so valiantly to regain control of their lives. Since 2013, ARC has provided water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure in collective shelters, protection support for women and girls facing violence, and distribution of much-needed emergency items for people who have fled their homes but are still inside Syria."
"The humanitarian response to the Syrian crisis has been operating half empty for years. There has simply not been enough funding. The aid community has called for increased food aid – their pleas went unanswered and Syrian families went hungry. What we’ve seen in the past year is Syrians reaching their tipping point. They’re giving up hope – they will no longer stand by as their children starve. We have simply not done enough to help the people who are looking to save their lives, who are trying to grasp the last shreds of hope for peace."
International Medical Corps
IMC has administered programs on Women and Children’s Health in over 70 countries including the health of pregnant women. They offer mental health programs in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq, Turkey, Libya, Yemen, Chad, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Japan, the Philippines, Liberia and Nepal. IMC helps run a service center for Syrian refugees in the Turkish city of Gaziantep that provides medical care, classes and job training. The IMC said they hasn’t seen any increase in donations to their Syria response efforts, but their “work to help those affected by the conflict continues and is more critical than ever.”
"International Medical Corps began operating in Syria in 2007 to support Iraqi refugees who resettled in Damascus during the Iraq war. Since then, we have established ourselves as a key player in the health sector in Syria with strong technical capacity in primary health care, mental health and psychosocial support services, and related humanitarian assistance programs. We have continued to support Iraqi refugees and vulnerable host populations with a range of critical health services, including maternal and child health, mental health, psychosocial support, and gender-based violence prevention and response."
"Due to the ongoing conflict in Syria, International Medical Corps has expanded our services to address the critical needs of affected Syrians both inside Damascus and in bordering countries where refugees are seeking shelter and humanitarian resources. We operate mobile medical services and support health care facilities in and around Damascus, providing primary health care, mental health care and psychosocial support, and distributing critical supplies. In addition, International Medical Corps has scaled up our Syria refugee responses services in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq."
Medical Teams International
"Medical Teams International focuses on health and dental care for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Their volunteers monitor chronic disease patients in their homes and provide families and communities with vital information on chronic disease recognition, management and disease prevention. Violence has forced millions from their homes in Syria. In a war that's taken countless lives, traumatized refugees are in desperate need of medical care and support. Medical Teams International works in the Middle East, primarily providing care for Syrian refugees displaced in Lebanon settlement camps or traveling through Greece. We are also sending volunteers to serve refugees in Serbia."
International Rescue Committee
"The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future. In the United States: The IRC has 29 offices across the country and has resettled 270 of the 1,541 Syrian refugees who have been accepted into the U.S. We provide immediate aid to refugees, including food and shelter, as well as access to the tools of self-reliance: housing, job placement and employment skills, clothing, medical attention, education, English-language classes and community orientation.
More than 3,000 IRC aid workers and local volunteers operating inside Syria and in four neighboring countries have reached over 3.3 million Syrians fleeing violence with emergency relief and long-term support. We're focusing on health care, protection of vulnerable women and children, education, and economic recovery."