There are needs in every community, in every country, every minute of every day. Right now I think for good reason the focus for most charitable giving is disaster relief in Haiti, however after yesterday's post I felt like it would be a good idea to list some places where we can all give back within our communities if we ever find ourselves so inclined. Of course there is no absolute comprehensive list of good charities-there are many that I have not listed here which are very worthy causes-but here are a few of my personal favorite places to donate.
Good places to donate money:
St. Jude Children's Hospital
St. Jude's is a research facility and treatment center for children with chronic illnesses, and they treat all children regardless of their family's ability to pay. In these difficult economic times a hospital that helps low income families with chronically ill children is indispensable.
To A Maternity Home
There are many maternity homes in this country. For those of you who don't know, a maternity home is a place where young pregnant women with no support or resources can go. They give these young women a stable environment and help them get prenatal care, find jobs, and learn to take care of themselves and their child. They also, for those interested, help with the adoption process. You can go here to find a pretty comprehensive list of maternity homes state-by-state.
Good Places to Donate Time
Volunteer with a Foster Care Program
There are more than half a million children in the foster care system of the United States, and a fantastic way to help them is to volunteer! Especially by mentoring, you can forever affect the life of a child who probably doesn't have the love of a stable, caring adult.
Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen via The Salvation Army
The price of food has gone up. Hubby works in a grocery so I can say this with absolute fact backing me up. I can also tell you that the food given out by food pantries, while given with the best of intentions, is often (a)already expired (b)completely random food that people gave because they don't want to eat it themselves [what do you do with a can of pickled beats? Most people give them to a food pantry to get free concert tickets] and (c)something that homeless people cannot actually use [you can't cook expired hamburger helper without a stove to cook on]. Soup kitchens are absolutely vital to homeless people who truly need a hot, unexpired meal-and volunteering to help provide that meal is a priceless gift that you can give the less fortunate in your community.
Causes that Need a Voice
Sometimes we don't have money or time to give-but there is always one thing we can do-we can use our voices to support our causes. As bloggers we have an even better opportunity to spread the word about issues and causes that are important to us-here are two causes that are important to me.
For obvious reasons, this issue is close to my heart. We can never truly know how many homeless teens there are in this country because many of them are completely cut off from services, but it is estimated that there are as many as 750,000 chronically homeless minors in the streets of our nation. There are not enough services to attend to the needs of all of these homeless youth-as many as 22% of homeless teens are turned away from shelters and charities for lack of space or funding.
One of the biggest ways to help homeless teens is actually very simple-talk to your congressperson. Changing the laws so that homeless minors can obtain full time jobs and contract for living services such as rental properties and utilities can open doors for young people who are willing to work very hard but are legally barred from providing for themselves. Some states already have 'independent minor' laws in place to help remove the roadblocks to self sufficiency-check your local laws and talk to your representatives to find out more.
Joint Custody Laws
According the US Census Bureau, women are granted sole legal and physical custody in 90% of all custody cases and 70% of contested cases. From my own personal experience living with an abusive mother while my dad fought against a system that routinely adheres to the belief that "children are better off with their mother" for no other reason that pure gender bias, I can tell you that the laws regarding joint custody need to be changed. They are heading in the direction of equality-the fact that 30% of men are now winning contested custody cases is actually an improvement-but in the interests of children this process needs to go faster. Children need both a mother AND a father-this is just as true even after parents separate/divorce as it ever was. Maybe even more so.
A few states already have 'default joint custody laws' meaning that unless it can be proven to be harmful parents will be granted joint legal custody. This is an important step, and it is a step that needs to be taken farther to include default joint physical custody as well. Children with two loving parents should be able to spend equal time with both of their loving parents-talk to your representatives about the laws in your state and what you can do to help.
What charities, organizations, and causes are close to your heart? I'd love to hear about them. Because this post is so late (11pm! I'm really pushing my resolution aren't I?) instead of posting an entirely new post tomorrow I am going to post a new link to this post as well as links to YOUR favorite charities/causes-so comment here and let me know what they are and why you love them!