Thursday, December 23, 2010

10 Things Thursday: 10 Worthy Causes

The Story Behind 10 Things Thursdays
For most of us there was some level of gift shopping to do over the course of this holiday season. On each of the 10 Thursdays from October 21, up until today, the day before Christmas Eve, it was my goal to present 10 ideas (at least), in 10 different themes, for eco-friendly gifting. Many suggestions were from places I know or products I'd purchased or received. I managed to meet my goal and find myself (a little later in the day than usual) at my final post of this series — List 10. This list is not about things to buy, but rather about places to make a donation, perhaps in the name of a person for whom you have not shopped and for whom it is too late to send a gift in time for Christmas. (Or maybe just a gift for yourself.) These groups are all working to change the world, and they could all use a little extra help as they feel the pinch of the recent economic downturn. I have tried to include an idea for everyone. BTW, I had this list in the works well before Google Chrome announced “Chrome for a Cause.” There is some overlap, but you know what they say about great minds… Here is my List 10.

10 Worthy Causes
    Flow How did a handful of corporations steal our water
  1. Water. It’s a simple fact that water is essential to human life. According to the website for the film Flow, “of the 6 billion people on earth, 1.1 billion do not have access to safe, clean drinking water.” Two groups for your consideration are charity:water and
  2. Medical Relief. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an independent, international medical humanitarian organization which goes where others dare not go, providing relief in places ravaged by natural disaster, threatened by epidemics, or torn apart by armed conflict. Created by doctors and journalists in France in 1971, the group received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999.
  3. Disaster Relief. Oxfam International is often the first responder after a natural disaster. Formed in 1995 by a group of independent non-governmental organizations, Oxfam’s aim is to “work together for greater impact on the international stage to reduce poverty and injustice.”
  4. Conservation of ecologically important lands and waters. A number of groups are working in this area, including: The Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club, and local land trusts. 
  5. Wildlife Conservation. Greenpeace (for its work with whales and dolphins) and the World Wildlife Fund are two of the most well-known organizations with this focus. The work of the WWF is particularly accessible to children.
  6. Ending Hunger. Feeding America and a national network of local food banks, including Connecticut Food Bank, secure surplus food and get it to those who most need it. The network members of Feeding America supply food to more than 37 million Americans each year. 
  7. Literacy. As a person who loves the written word, it is difficult to imagine just how closed the world would be to me if I did not have this skill. Many in the world, however, have not received this gift. Room to Read works in developing countries with a focus on literacy and ending gender inequality in education. Motheread works in the US, combining the teaching of literacy skills with child development and family empowerment issues. Through Motheread parents and children learn to use the power of language to discover more about themselves, their families, and their communities. 
  8. Advocacy. Although I live on the East Coast, I am a member of Environment California, a group in working on “protecting California’s air, water and open spaces.” With an economy ranked in the world’s top ten, California is often the testing ground for new ideas. Their successes and failures provide the lesson plans for the rest of the country. Or, if you prefer, pick an advocacy group closer to your own home or in an area of special interest to you. There are so many. Let me name just a few from whom I have drawn material for this blog: Food Democracy Now!, Slow Food International, Environmental Working Group
  9. Shelter. Everyone has heard of Habitat for Humanity which helps build homes for first-time homeowners. Lesser known is NeighborWorks America, of which Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven is a member. During the course of its 30-year history, NHS has fully renovated and sold nearly 300 houses to low- and moderate-income families. Through the New Haven HomeOwnership Center, NHS puts approximately 500 families a year on the path to homeownership through its homebuyer education classes. They have a wealth of information for homeowners on all the latest energy-saving products.
  10. Creating an East Coast Greenway. There is a dream that one day it will be possible to cycle 3,000 miles from Maine to the tip of Florida by connecting existing and planned shared-use trails. A donation to The East Coast Greenway is a perfect donation in honor of any bicycle enthusiast.
There you have it, List 10. Pick a cause, any cause… 

Thanks for reading. Happy Holidays to you all.

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