Let’s talk about meaningful holiday giving. Every year I have the best intentions. I swear I’ll quit trying to buy something for my friends and family that they don’t already have or can’t buy for themselves. Gift giving has become a name drawing, secret Santa, $30 limit, white elephant, pain in the neck.
The answer? Give to a charity and send your loved one a card explaining you’ve given in his or her name. I’ve shied away from this in the past because it feels a little hollow to me, like I’m giving up. This is going to sound terrible, because I know every dollar DOES count, but sometimes, with a large charity, I feel like my donation is just a drop in the bucket. A very small drop. A drop that becomes part of the system – X amount to research, X amount to fundraising, X amount to administrative fees, X amount to education… NOT THAT ANYTHING IS WRONG WITH THAT.
Did you know the average amount spent on holiday gifts by Americans is expected to be just under $1,000 this year? What if you gave that $1,000 to a charity where it would make a HUGE difference? Where it would solve an immediate problem, or make someone’s dream come true? Maybe it’s my need for immediate gratification, but I like the idea of knowing exactly what my contribution is doing.
I’ve been researching to find charities where a donation of the $25 – $1,000 variety might change lives. I’m sure there are a lot out there, but I selected just three examples covering children, veterans and wildlife. These aren’t the ONLY charities worth supporting by any means – just examples of opportunities to get creative and personal with your giving.
Did you know that each year, 1.5 million American children are homeless? Children who arrive at a shelter are often coming from an emergency situation – either domestic violence, extreme poverty, or disaster. Most of them have only the clothes on their backs. The trauma of their situations often results in learning disabilities, anxiety, and depression. Project Night Night was created to provide a little comfort to these children.
Project Night Night provides 25,000 children across the country with Night Night packages each year, free of charge, when they arrive at a homeless shelter. Each Night Night package contains childhood and educational essentials to feel secure, cozy and significant: a stuffed animal, a blanket, and an age-appropriate book.
Project Night Night accepts donations of new blankets and stuffed animals, as well as like-new children’s books. Of course, financial assistance helps to fill in the gaps in donated items and defer the cost of shipping, storage and supplies.
One parent shared her experience, “My child and I were in a battered women’s shelter when we received our package. It was the first time I had seen my little girl smile all day. She fell asleep with the blanket in her arms.”
You can underwrite the cost of one Night Night Package or more. For each donation of $25, a Night Night Package will be delivered to a homeless child in your honor (or that of your family/friend). Each gift allows Project Night Night to reach out and serve one more homeless child. See their video – Project Night Night or you can make a donation here.
That feels like you’re making a difference, right?
The Greatest Generation. What more needs to be said? Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization that honors America’s veterans. From over 130 hub locations, they transport our heroes to Washington, D.C. where they visit the war memorial, reflect on their service and honor their fallen brethren.
Over 20,000 World War II, Korean War or Vietnam Veterans are on the national Honor Flight Network waiting list. Some have been waiting for years. Honor Flight has flown over 150,000 veterans to D.C. so far, but they don’t have the funds to quickly reach everyone else on the list. Senior veterans are top priority – World War II survivors and those veterans who are terminally ill. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an estimated 640 World War II veterans die each day. Time is running out if we are going to thank these brave men and women.
If you want to be overwhelmed with patriotism and gratitude, find an Honor Flight landing near your home, grab your family and friends and join the welcome committee at the airport greeting the vets when they return from their D.C. trip.
You can help with a little or a lot – $30.00 feeds one Veteran, $65.00 can pay for the tour bus and food. The cost of the trip for one veteran ranges from $500-$1,500 depending on the location of the Honor Flight hub and overnight stays. (These costs were located on one chapter’s website, so others may vary a bit, but you get the idea.) Visit Honor Flight to donate or look for your own local hub here. Watch the short video with testimonials here. Grab a tissue.
Mission:Wolf is a non-profit consisting of 200 acres of secured land. One hundred twenty acres are in conservation and provide a buffer zone, 80 acres are fenced for wolves, and a 3-acre village is used for the human volunteer staff who live on site.
Mission:Wolf is a peaceful sanctuary for captive wolves and wolf-dog crosses. They presently have 32 wolves and wolf-dog crosses that depend on them for care. All of the animals living at Mission:Wolf share a common trait – they were born in cages. Most captive wolves born each year don’t see their first birthday; they are commonly destroyed or neglected.
In addition to providing a sanctuary for wolves and a nature center for people, directors Kent Weber and Tracy Brooks travel the country with Ambassador Wolves visiting schools, universities, museums, and other public facilities. “Our goal is to put ourselves out of business. When we educate enough people that there are no longer captive wolves in need of rescue, we can tear down our fences, turn the wolf sanctuary into a nature center, and listen to the wolves howling in the wild,” says Weber.
There are multiple ways to donate. You can become a wolf “caretaker,” selecting a wolf to sponsor for up to a year, you can donate to the land trust that will preserve the surrounding land of Mission:Wolf, or specify your donation to the Crimson Fund, which pays for the wolves’ veterinary care.
For donations over $100 they’ll send you a photo of your sponsored wolf and naturally shed wolf hair. Donate $1,000 and you’ll feed a wolf for a year. For $3,000 you can feed a pack. You can watch a short video and see the wolves and their refuge at Mission:Wolf. Visit their website to read more about the sanctuary and to donate.
These are just three causes I thought were personalized for my meaningful holiday giving. Make sure, when you are deciding where to make your donation, you check the status of the charity. Do your homework and make sure it’s in good standing. A little Googling goes a long way!
Now, go do some good!
Prime Women provides a platform for our contributors to tell others about causes they care deeply about. However, we have done no vetting of any kind of the organizations and make no formal or implied recommendations of these charities.