Having spent some time in the last week coming up with ways for you use your gift-giving dollars to support local artists and businesses right here in your community, I wanted to take some more time to call attention to our neighbors who are also in need of some generosity this holiday season. I don’t need to remind you that this has been a terrible year, with the recession straining charity organizations’ resources on both sides in the form of reduced donations and increased demand for services.
So while you’re choosing that perfect gift for your mom or your brother or your spouse, I encourage you to leave some room in your gifting budget to donate to a worthy cause that’s close to your heart. The problem with writing a list like this is that there are far more worthy organizations who need help than I have time to track them all down. So this list is short and not even close to inclusive. If your favorite charity isn’t listed here, it wasn’t on purpose; so please add it to the list and give us all the widest range of organizations to choose from possible.
Finally, these are mostly pretty well-known and respected organizations, but I haven’t done any additional work to vet them. So don’t forget to take a close look at the organization’s website, or even their Charity Navigator listing, to ensure that your donation is being used in a way that fits with your priorities.
Food/Shelter/Basic Needs Aid
Bread for the City – Food (groceries), clothing, shelter services, as well as social and medical services.
DC Central Kitchen – Recovery of excess food, conversion into meals delivered to social service agencies around DC as well as street-level meal delivery to the homeless, training and employment opportunities for homeless/disadvantage residents for culinary jobs.
Miriam’s Kitchen- Meal services (breakfast now, dinner will be added in 2010!), social services and referrals, art therapy and skills classes.
Food and Friends – Meals, groceries, and nutritional support for people with HIV/AIDS, cancer, or other “life-challenging” illnesses.
Capital Area Food Bank – Food assistance through both direct assistance, as well as food provided to other agencies in the area.
Modest Needs – Small financial grants to clients in need of sudden, urgent assistance before the problem snowballs, preventing larger issues that require additional intervention. Not DC-specific, but their particular way of allowing donors to help determine which grants get funded allows you to emphasize locality, if that’s your priority.
Washington Animal Rescue League – Runs a shelter with complete medical center for dogs and cats.
Homeward Trails Animal Rescue – One of the larger rescues in the area- they do not run a shelter of their own, but instead have a network of foster homes for animals rescued from shelters in rural areas with domestic animal overpopulation problems.
Safe Shores – Provides transition services (and often a fresh backpack or change of clothes) to children who are victims of or witnesses to crime.
FirstBook – Operates nationally, but is based in DC. Who doesn’t love giving books to children? Random House is matching donations book-for-book through December 31.
Words Beats & Life – Uses hip-hop to interest DC students in academic subjects; technology for mixing, lyrics for poetry, etc. Their specific donation needs are outlined in the Catalogue of Philanthropy.