2012’s Holiday Charity Guide

As the malls flood with people buying gifts and spending an absurd amount of money on gadgets that’ll be irrelevant within the next year or so, there are many out there that are suffering. Some are without homes after Hurricane Sandy, some are missing loved ones who have gone missing, some are without equal rights, others are in the hospital and some just want their wishes to come true. Instead of spending money on wants, why not switch it up this year and invest in a need for someone else? Here’s a list of some charities aimed to help make those needs a reality:

Invisible Children

Since 2004, Invisible Children have been on a mission to end the horrors brought on by the Lord’s Resistance Army, such as taking children from their homes and turning them into killing machines. Not only does Invisible Children work on educating those on the devastation brought on by the LRA, they’re also out to help those who are affected by providing programs such as Village Savings And Loan Associations. This program gives people in the community a chance to save money, take out loans to open their own business and so much more. In light of the holiday season, Invisible Children have opened an online store called Out Of Africa, which can be found at shop.invisiblechildren.com/sustain-it/. Each item offered is handcrafted from East Africa, and 100 percent of the proceeds go to the organization to help rehabilitate those who have been directly affected by the LRA, to help restore education and economic programs. For more information on how you can get involved, visit invisiblechildren.com.


Child’s Play

Founded in 2003, Child’s Play has worked hard to bring happiness to children in hospitals across the world. Through donations, Child’s Play is able to provide various forms of entertainment on wish lists provided by the hospitals that participate in the program. If one wishes to donate to Child’s Play, there are many ways of doing so. You can use PayPal to send your donation, hold your own Child’s Play event and donate the proceeds from it to the organization, or you can visit their website to find the nearest hospital that participates in Child’s Play, view their wish list and purchase a gift that will be sent to the facility. For more information, go to childsplaycharity.org.


Little Kids Rock

Little Kids Rock is a nonprofit organization set up to make sure that every child gets a well-rounded education, and that includes music education. Budget cuts in many states, the importance of music and being able to express oneself has been put on the back burner, but Little Kids Rock is out to change that by providing kids with the opportunity to learn an instrument. Local branches of the organization include ones in Montclair, Newark, Jersey City and New York City. The instruments that are available to learn are guitar, bass, drums and keyboards, and full-time public school teachers who also play the instrument that they’re teaching. There are various levels of donations that are available on the site, however, one can donate any amount of money they wish. Visit their website and help provide music education to kids in grades K-12! littlekidsrock.org


Sandy Relief

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, many lost everything; their homes, property, and even loved ones. As the storm raged on outside, the Hurricane Sandy Relief Foundation began building its website to alert those affected by the storm of shelters and how to get assistance for relief. Donations are being accepted for those in need in New Jersey, New York City and Staten Island. The Hurricane Sandy Relief Foundation has an Amazon Wish List of the most asked for essential items that are being asked for by victims. HSRF also has their own shop set up so that one can purchase items supporting the cause, such as t-shirts or a Jersey Strong bracelet. For more information about how you can get involved, check out sandyrelief.org.


Tyler Clementi Foundation

By providing programs geared towards battling and standing up to bullies, whether one is a bystander or being bullied directly, building support for the LGBT community is the Tyler Clementi Foundation, which encourages and educates the importance of acceptance and respect in all aspects of life. Currently, the Tyler Clementi Foundation has teamed up with BARE The Musical, which is being shown at the New World Stages in New York City. Discussions will also be held on select performance dates. In addition to being a foundation to celebrate the life of a young man gone so young, the Tyler Clementi Foundation also provides resources on their website for those who need it. To donate to the Tyler Clementi Foundation, please visit tylerclementi.org.


Human Rights Campaign

With the belief that all people should be treated equally regardless of orientation, the Human Rights Campaign is striving to help improve the quality of life for LGBTQ+ individuals. Their website highlights various issues and provides resources for topics such as coming out, hate crimes, federal advocacy, and even a section for straight supporters. Also included on their site is a section where one can pick their location and learn how to get involved in making sure all people are treated equal. With various ways of donating to a cause that shouldn’t have to be fought for, there’s no better way to show your holiday spirit by helping others gain the rights they deserve. Visit hrc.org for more information on how you can get involved and support your fellow human being.


Make-A-Wish New Jersey

Much like Child’s Play, the Make-A-Wish Foundation is out there to brighten a child’s day. Started in 1980, the Make-A-Wish Foundation has granted the wishes of children with life-threatening conditions. With wishes ranging from going to NYC during Thanksgiving, being a cowboy, having a hot tub, meeting athletes or celebrities, the Make-A-Wish Foundation shows that anything is possible and helps keep these kids fighting. Help show these children that complete strangers believe in their wish and want to help make them happen. Each donation goes towards helping to fund each wish, including travel. To donate to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, please visit wish.org or for the NJ chapter, nj.wish.org.


Stop Trafficking Of People (STOP)

Human trafficking is a problem that’s happening right under our noses. The number of women and children of both sexes that are forced into selling their body for sex is growing each year, and it doesn’t show signs of slowing down unless organizations like STOP can help. With the help of donations, STOP is able to track down locations and alert the authorities and with their help, bring the victims to support centers so they can get the help they need. With support centers internationally, STOP is working hard to make sure that awareness is raised, the victims are taken care of, and the traffickers are brought to justice. For more information on how STOP and to make a donation, visit their website at stopinternational.org.


Table To Table

Based out of northern New Jersey, Table To Table is a food rescue program that gathers prepared and perishable food and donates it to various facilities such as rehab centers, homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters and much more. On their website, Table To Table outlines how your money donations will be spent. For example, $25+ can provide lunch for three weeks for HIV-positive patrons of a Fort Lee soup kitchen, $100+ provides dinner for a week for those who reside at an Englewood senior home, and there are so many other wonderful ways your money will help the community. Table To Table also accepts time donations, as well as food donations. For more information on how to get involved, visit their space on the web at tabletotable.org.


Greenpeace Fund

Regardless of race, location, age, sex, orientation and economic class, we all share this planet. The Greenpeace Fund is one of the organizations out to make the world a cleaner, greener place with sustainable resources and renewable energy to boot. If we continue on the road that we’re heading on, who knows if future generations will even have a place to call home? The time to act is now and by donating to Greenpeace, you’ll be part of the solution to the problem that we’ve created. Every donation goes towards making the planet a cleaner place and protecting what we have now so that other generations can have a brighter and greener tomorrow. Check out greenpeacefund.org.


New York Cares

Between running coat drives, helping with Hurricane Sandy relief and projects ranging in helping children in grades K-2 discover new ways to stay active, New York Cares is among the ranks of the superheroes in the city that never sleeps. The largest volunteer organization in New York City works year-round to help out however they can, especially around the holidays and chilly months. New York Cares runs a Coat Drive every year, and now after Hurricane Sandy, the need for gently used, freshly cleaned coats is at an all-time high. New York Cares is always accepting donations to aid them in their work, as well in their special programs such as the Coat Drive and their Sandy relief efforts. Give the gift of protection from the cold this winter; direct your browser to newyorkcares.org for more information.


Habitat For Humanity

There’s nothing like the security of having a roof over one’s head, especially that one can call their own. By working under trained individuals, people can give back to their community by providing one of the most basic human needs: a place to lay their head at night. Habitat For Humanity accepts donations in the form of money, materials and even vehicles to help transport the supplies. Events are held in the NY/NJ area and there are various local affiliates listed on their website. Help out your fellow neighbor by getting down, dirty and rough up those hands by getting involved with Habitat For Humanity. Find them on the web at habitat.org.


American Foundation For Suicide Prevention

The 10th leading cause of death in the United States is suicide, a preventable fate if those with suicidal thoughts or behaviors are given the chance for proper care. The American Foundation For Suicide Prevention (AFSP) provides support for those who have been affected by suicide, as well as engage in research to understand suicide better. Alongside research, AFSP also put together suicide prevention projects, which is geared towards developing new ways to help those in need, such as their LGBT Depression And Suicide Prevention Project, Interactive Screening Program, and their Billboard Campaign. Sign up for one of the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention’s Walk To Save Lives, volunteer, or make a donation and help make strides to bring the suicide rate down. Visit afsp.org to find out how you can get involved!


The Humane Society Of New York

Not only are people in need this holiday season, but so are our furry friends. The Humane Society Of New York is out to help cat and dog owners in need of assistance with basic care, adoption services, spay/neuter services and so much more. The Humane Society Of New York needs help from people like you, especially now. After Hurricane Sandy, the HSNY has gone beyond the call of duty to help displaced, injured and ill animals. Give the gift of love to our four-legged friends. For more information on how to help out, head on over to humanesocietyny.org



Much like The Humane Society Of New York, the ASPCA of New York is geared towards the care of our fluffy companions. With their mobile adoption and spay/neuter clinics, foster programs and even a branch of law enforcement, the ASPCA is hard at work to make the lives of critters better and full of love. The ASPCA accepts money donations, as well as vehicle donations and even blankets, pet food, toys and bedding to help keep homeless animals comfortable and healthy. Better yet, if you’re in the position to, why don’t you adopt an animal and give it a permanent home full of compassion and love? To find the local ASPCA chapter in your area or for other ways to get involved, visit aspca.org.


Family Promise

By working in 41 states, Family Promise is out to help tackle poverty and build communities by helping homeless and low-income people gain maintainable independence. Family Promise educates those families who are at risk of being homeless on how to keep themselves from heading down that path, as well as providing food, shelter and support and resources for those who are less fortunate. Through the Interfaith Hospitality Network set up by Family Promise, families are able to learn the skills needed to create a better situation for themselves. To make a donation or to give families a chance at a better tomorrow, head on over to familypromise.org.


Feeding America

Each night, millions go to bed without food in their stomachs, and most of the time it isn’t by choice. Feeding America is out to battle hunger. They’re determined to fight to make sure no one goes hungry during the holidays by opening an online “store,” where one can purchase fresh food items to give to families who are less fortunate during this time. Items offered include chicken, milk, bananas, apples, corn, oatmeal, whole grain bread and much more. By donating to Feeding America, one of the many food banks associated with the cause will be able to provide meals for those in need. Throughout the year, Feeding America works to provide food through public assistance programs and even has a special program dedicated to children. Give the gift of a hot meal and a full belly this year. feedingamerica.org


American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is known for helping individuals in time of need, but in order to help others, they need your help too. Whether it’s by hosting or donating blood at a blood drive, fundraising, becoming an advocate, attending one of their classes or making a cash donation, every bit helps. The Red Cross also has programs in place to show our armed forces that we’re thinking of them, such as their Holiday Mail For Heroes program, which sends holiday cards to those serving. With each cash donation, funding is provided for vaccines, disaster relief assistance, emergency assistance services and so much more. For more information on how to donate to the American Red Cross or find a blood drive nearest you, visit redcross.org


Occupy Rolling Jubilee

With debt being what it is and corporations receiving bailouts while everyday people are left trying to make ends meet, Occupy decided to create a bailout for people. Occupy’s Rolling Jubilee is a bailout program for people where the debt is purchased, not collected, and is aimed to liberate debtors. By donating $10, someone can be freed of $200 worth of debt, $20 gets $400 of someone’s debt taken care of and by donating $100, you can help eliminate $2,000 of someone’s burden. By donating to Rolling Jubilee, you’re giving someone their life back, as debt is like a noose tightening around one’s throat. Help someone this holiday season breath a little easier. rollingjubilee.org


Electronic Frontier Foundation

Everything is digital in this day and age and as times are changing, so are your rights and privacy in the age of the internet. The Electronic Frontier Foundation works hard at defending free speech, privacy, consumer rights and more in the modern era. The EFF helps to protect internet users from acts such as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) or PIPA, The Protect IP Act. Both bills are pro-censorship and blacklisting of websites, and not just those geared towards pirating or stealing copyrighted information. Websites that host user made products, such as Etsy, could also face the wrath of those bills. Support the Electronic Frontier Foundation and keep your rights on the street and the net. For more information, visit eff.org.