The Spirit of Giving: Where to Donate This Holiday Season

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Alright, 2016. We get it. You were a hot pile of garbage and we are done with you. You took Prince and Bowie and even Snape. You were filled with police violence. There’s the Zika virus. There was Brexit. Oh, and in case you forgot, our President-elect is a racist, orange-haired internet troll.

So we are here to kick you to the curb, 2016. And what better way to do that than to build up some good karma for 2017? In a year (and with four long years ahead) where marginalized groups were repeatedly targeted, we all need to reach out and support those in need.How can you really show your support and be an ally for those around you who may be feeling more at risk than ever before? How can you recognize the issues that matter to them?

This year, instead of another candle or knick-knack or whatever you throw in a bag when you can’t figure out what to buy, maybe think about what charity could effect change in your gift recipient’s community. Below are several charities that you can support this year, either financially or with your time and energy.


Planned Parenthood

In the coming years, women’s reproductive rights and affordable healthcare will both be at risk. Planned Parenthood is an organization known for supporting both of these causes. While politics and the media like to focus only on the valuable reproductive choices that the organization provides, they tend to forget the breast cancer screenings, affordable birth control, STD testing and counseling, and other services for women as well as men. Did I mention it’s also their 100th birthday? What better time to give to this established organization? And while you’re at it, I have an idea for who you can dedicate that donation to

The Trevor Project

Between politicians who would love to turn back the clock on marriage equality and a bizarre amount of political focus on what bathroom people use, it’s no surprise that LGBTQIA organizations need support this year. The Trevor Project, one of those organizations, provides suicide prevention services to LGBTQIA youth. The Trevor Project acts as a lifeline for LGBTQIA youth, providing instant message and text message access in addition to a traditional support hotline.

Color of Change

This civil rights organization aims to create a “more human and less hostile world for Black people in America.” Their initiatives include fighting for voter rights and criminal justice reform. By donating to them, you’ll help fight back against white nationalism and a criminal justice system that unfairly targets people of color.

ACLU

The American Civil Liberties Union defends the rights of individuals as defined by the Constitution and the laws of the United States. In a world where people’s rights to privacy and autonomy are being threatened, the ACLU takes on challenges such as defending privacy rights and protecting transgender students in public schools. If politicians put international human rights at risk, the ACLU will be there to help.

The Sierra Club Foundation

The scientific community agrees that climate change may be the most important issue of our time. Climate change deniers and fossil fuel lobbyists continue to hold back environmental progress. The Sierra Club Foundation helps protect the wilderness from being threatened by outside forces. Recently, that has included supporting the Standing Rock protests.

The White Helmets

Throughout the year, we’ve watched the crisis in Syria unfold, and it can often leave people feeling helpless as to what we can do. The White Helmets are on the ground in Syria, organizing and executing search and rescue missions in war torn areas, often pulling survivors from the rubble. In September, The Atlantic reported that the group has saved more than 60,000 lives. Donating to these first responders will help support their lifesaving efforts in Syria.

The National Immigration Law Center

Under the incoming administration, the rights of immigrants may be more at risk than at any other time in recent history. It’s no secret that a cornerstone of Trump’s campaign involved promoting fear and anti-immigrant rhetoric. The National Immigration Law Center defends and advances the rights of low-income immigrants, influencing policy and providing support to these communities. The organization does everything from defending DACA to providing information on their website on how to file taxes.


As we wind down 2016, we need to look at what’s next. From an troublesome political climate to international humanitarian crises, it is hard to focus in on concrete ways that we can change things. Donating doesn’t have to be financial; your time and your energy can be just as good (or better). Look into supporting local chapters of charities that matter to you. Smaller local organizations are often the ones most in need of help, and they’ll be the ones where you can stay hands-on and see change with your own eyes.

Let’s start 2017 off trying to hold each other up and make things just a little bit better for all of us.

(image via Shutterstock/Savicic)

Daryl Sztuka is a writer living outside Boston with her husband. You can find her reading comics, listening to records way too loud, and having intense staring matches with her cat, Agent Scully. Follow her on Instagram @girlseeksband and Twitter @girlseeksband.

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