Thanksgiving is only a few days away, and I’m super excited! Even though I’m not much of a fan of the month of November, I dearly love Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season. This year I’m going to be spending the holiday visiting my family in California, and it will be my first Thanksgiving with them since I moved to Washington in 2010.
I am so incredibly fortunate to have so much to be thankful for this season: a wonderful family and friends, and a loving fiancee and sweet kitties that live with me in our warm, comfortable home. I have plenty of food to eat, a great job, a warm bed to rest in at night. The list goes on and on, and I could easily write an entire blog post just listing out things that I am grateful for. But just as I am so very thankful for all that I have, I am also very aware that there are so many around me that do not have even the most basic of things, no roof over their heads or warm clothes to wear or a safe place to sleep. It seems so unbalanced to me, that I have so much while others struggle to get by with so little, and so I try to do my part to help out those less fortunate than me. I wanted to take some time today to share a few of my favorite charities, and I hope that this will inspire those around me to find a way to help out those in need. I’ve included links to each organization’s website for anyone who would like more information or to donate.
To me, Kiva is a gift that keeps on giving. It isn’t really so much a charity as it is a system of loaning money to people who are trying to better their communities but may not have access to traditional bank loans. Kiva is a non-profit organization that connects lenders and borrowers. To get started, decide on an amount to loan (my first one was $25, which was all I could afford at the time). Then review the different men and women who are seeking funds to improve their businesses and communities. There are a wide range of areas to choose from (for example, I lent money to a man who was saving up for a water filtration system to provide clean drinking water to students in Uganda). Find the perfect cause, lend out the money, receive repayment, and start all over! Over the years I have been repaid my money several times, then turned around and found new people and projects to loan to.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) was the first humane society in North America, and today it is one of the largest. They are a non-profit organization fighting animal cruelty throughout the US, with their mission being the protection, placement, and rescue of animals in need. While I would happily adopt every homeless animal if I could, unfortunately I don’t have the resources. Between donating monthly to the ASPCA and pampering my own three adopted cats, I am trying to do my part to help animals.
In addition to larger national organizations, I also believe it is really important to offer local support as well. Cocoon House is a local non profit that strives to end youth homelessness in Snohomish County. It was started as a small emergency shelter but has grown into a nationally recognized program that offers a variety of programs to help at-risk youth and their families and to combat the problem of teen homelessness. It’s hard to imagine that there are kids right now with nowhere to go tonight, but over 34% of the homeless population is under the age of 24.
Snohomish County Food Bank
On Thanksgiving Day, most of us will probably eat far too much and then slink off to bed to sleep off the turkey hangover. But there are far too many people who are anything but full on any given day, and to help those people locally we have the Snohomish County Food Bank. This non-profit organization provides beneficiaries with food and social services every week. Those wishing to donate food can find drop-off locations on the organization’s website, and monetary donations are taken right online. Want to help but have a tight budget? The Food Bank is also accepting volunteers for a variety of schedules and jobs.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!