The Season of Giving: Buying More than Presents this Holiday Season

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'Tis the Season of Giving

‘Tis the season for buying lots and lots of presents. Video games, HD TVs, clothes, fancy phones and music players are on everyone’s list. But this season that is so much about spending money can also be about giving money to well-deserving organizations. A year-end gift can give you an extra bump in your list of tax deductions and also just make you feel really good. We’ve put together a list for you of non-profit organizations that help people, animals and the environment. This is simply for informational purposes; there are a lot of worthy organizations not named on this list.

In the spirit of the old-school “20 Questions” game, we’ve divided our list into three categories: animals, vegetables and people.

Animals

The Humane Society

Your local Humane Society is one of the easiest places for you to donate. Most cities (even very small ones) have a local chapter of the Humane Society. Most people are familiar with the Humane Society’s work to get abandoned animals adopted into loving homes, but it also advocates for animal rights laws, investigates animal cruelty charges, rescues animals and operates mobile vet clinics. More information, including how to donate, is available on the Humane Society website.

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ASPCA

Also known for its animal advocacy, the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is another year-end donation option. The ASPCA was founded in 1866 and is based in New York City. The ASPCA is best known for its investigation and rescue programs. It only has one adoption center at its New York headquarters. In addition to its lobbying and awareness efforts, the ASPCA partners with community-based organizations to provide investigative, rescue and intervention services in cities across the country. Additional information is available on the ASPCA website.

Vegetables

Don’t worry, we’re not encouraging you to support organizations that try and rescue vegetables (not that there’s anything wrong with that). These are organizations that work to restore and protect the environment:

The Nature Conservatory

Founded in 1951, the Nature Conservatory addresses “the most pressing threats at the largest scale.” According to its website, the Nature Conservatory employs hundreds of scientists and operates over 100 marine conservation projects. Conservatory employees and volunteers work in all 50 states and 30 countries to protect both animal and plant life by preserving their natural habitats. Find out more at the Nature Conservatory website.

Leave No Trace

If you’re an avid outdoors persons, an organization like Leave No Trace might be right up your alley. The mission of Leave No Trace is to encourage “responsible enjoyment and active stewardship of the outdoors by all people, worldwide.” The organization works to educate people on how to enjoy the outdoors while making minimal environmental impact- what Leave No Trace calls “outdoor ethics.” The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics has created a three-tiered training system, educational guides and reference cards to teach people about outdoor ethics. Additional information can be found on the Leave No Trace website.

People

If you’re looking for a way to help under privileged people this season, there are – again – numerous organizations from which to choose. These are just two:

International Justice Mission

Founded in 1997 by a former U.S. Department of Justice lawyer, International Justice Mission (IJM) is a human rights agency that works to secure freedom and justice for victims of violent oppression. IJM has field offices in 12 countries where staff investigates instances of modern-day slavery, forced prostitution and child slave labor. Every year, IJM secures freedom for hundreds of people who are forced to work in cruel, inhumane conditions for little or no pay at all. Additional information is available at IJM’s website.

TOMS Shoes

TOMS Shoes was started in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie. During his travels to Argentina, he met a lot of kids who had no shoes to wear. When kids go barefoot, they are susceptible to soil-transmitted diseases and infections of cuts and scrapes on the bottom of their feet. Knowing this, Blake was moved to start a company that would give away one pair of shoes for every pair that was purchased. Buying gifts from TOMS Shoes is a great way to combine some holiday shopping with a good deed. Find more information, and do some gift shopping, at the Toms Shoes website.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but gives you an idea of some of the organizations that are always in need of extra financial support. Before donating to any organization, do some research to make sure the organization is reputable and responsible with its finances.

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