Last Chance for 2011 Charitable Giving

Photo courtesy of RikkisRefugeOther
courtesy of RikkisRefugeOther

Welcome to the last moments of your life… in 2011.

Did that briefly fill you with fear that you’ve misspent your time on this fair earth? (If so, why? Do you think I have kill-you-through-the-internet powers? Worry not, you’re wayyyyyy down on the list for when I get THAT superpower) Or did you just think “crap, I need to make some more tax deductible donations before the clock ticks over!”

Either way, we got you covered. The We Love DC team spent some time spitballing their favorite locally-focused and/or locally-based charities and came up with a prodigious list. All will allow you some way to donate to them for the 2011 tax year, if you’re fortunate enough for such deductions to matter to you. All will be similarly delighted to take your cash from Jan 1 onwards too.

Keep reading for the list and feel free to suggest your own in the comments. Most of the places below are in the District but some are in surrounding areas; charity doesn’t stop at the boundary stones, after all.

If you want to concentrate on the most basic of needs, keeping body and soul united requires food. We’re home to several fine organizations that work to feed the needy.

DC Central Kitchen has gotten some love here in the recent past and Marissa profiled Chef Allison about a year ago. DCCK’s combination of providing nutrition as well as training folks in culinary arts is a clever approach.

Bread for the City is closing out the last few years of their fourth decade. They provide comprehensive services including clothing and social services but I always think of their nutritional contributions first. It’s right there in the name, after all.

So Others Might Eat also goes beyond meals, including substance abuse counseling, elderly care, medical services, and housing. On top of all that they serve more than 1,000 meals a day in their dining room and via outreach.

Some of these operations focus on homelessness and poverty, others provide advocacy:

WEAVE provides legal services and education on violence issues. No one should have the suffer at the hands of another and WEAVE’s attorneys help bring that idea closer to reality.

N Street Village provides support to homeless and low income women. Women among the homeless are vulnerable in additional unique ways beyond the challenges all the homeless already face. Increased vulnerability to HIV is one of those ways, and in recognition of that N Street created Miriam’s House just a few months ago to help homeless women living with HIV and AIDS.

Safe Shores received some backpacks from some of you a few years ago but we haven’t mentioned them recently. Thankfully they don’t do it for our adulation. This children’s advocacy center helps children who have come into crisis situations suffer as little chaos as possible, as well as providing education and outreach. If the first rule of finding yourself in a hole is “stop digging” then the first rule of helping a child in need is to stabilize the situation and make them start feeling safe.

DC Legal Aid Society recognizes people below the federal poverty line may still find themselves needing legal representation. Their staff helps make that happen, whether it be providing housing related legal support or protecting the vulnerable from being exploited.

Doorways for Women and Families in Arlington uses a comprehensive approach to work with families to address domestic violence and homelessness.

Building folks up and helping them become better able to help themselves through job training and other advancement:

Empowering Center works with students on education and employment.

College Bound tutors motivated students in 8th through 12th grade to help them improve their grades and work towards getting into college, as well as providing some scholarships.

Habitat for Humanity of DC builds homes. Habitat is pretty well known these days and there’s a lot to be said for their “sweat equity” concept that gets residents involved before they move into their new home.

The soul needs nourishment too. Some local operations that work through the arts:

Art Enables works with folks with developmental issues to help them express themselves through art, often providing them an avenue of expression they lack in other areas.

Choralis Foundation works to bring music into people’s lives, both as creators and listeners.

DC Arts Center provides a space for the visual and performing arts in the Adams Morgan area. I’ve seen a number of shows in their black box theater that wouldn’t have had a chance to be made if they hadn’t had access to that performing space.

Supporting people’s health takes a lot of forms. Sometimes it’s advocating for healthier options and environments, sometimes it’s providing medical services.

DC Greens works to improve access to fresh food in the city and advocates for healthier options in schools.

Phoenix Bikes works with local youth to provide training and provides bicycle services to the community.

Children’s National Medical Center is a pediatric-only operation that’s been working in the DC area for over 140 years. They’ve touched countless lives, including one of WLDC’s own, Brian Mosley, whose niece was born there earlier this year. If you want an example of what makes them special you can read about little Addison’s entrance into the world and the thirty-two person team who helped her here and here. Children’s has a Food Lion Challenge Fund matching donations through the end of today, so you get double the bang for your buck.

Some of the most vulnerable among us are those who have been separated from their support structures. Several local operations endeavor to help immigrants and refugees, as well as victims of trafficking.

The IRC in Silver Spring goes on-site to provide relief, both here and abroad. Domestically they help settle refugees, abroad they assist in different ways. The rundown is extensive and can be found here.

NoVa’s Migration and Refugee Services is a Catholic charity helping refugees and asylum-seekers in the Northern Virginia area. They’ve helped over 20,000 in 35 years – well more than one every calendar day.

Courtney’s House provides shelter and counseling services to children 12 to 18 who have been sexually exploited.

HIPS provides assistance via harm reduction programs to sex workers.

Tahirih Justice Center provides legal services, advocacy, and education for immigrant and refugee women suffering gender-based violence.

And of course, there’s everyone else.

Our list doesn’t scratch the surface of the people doing good work in and for the area. There’s some clearinghouse sorts of sites out there to help you find worthwhile places if nothing above strikes your fancy. You can look at  the Catalogue for Philanthropy who highlights a number of smaller charities, like DCAC, or simply look at GuideStar and search for a topic close to your heart.

My advice is to give and be careful; it feels so good that it gets to be addictive.

Well I used to say something in my profile about not quite being a “tinker, tailor, soldier, or spy” but Tom stole that for our about us page, so I guess I’ll have to find another way to express that I am a man of many interests.

Hmm, guess I just did.

My tastes run the gamut from sophomoric to Shakespeare and in my “professional” life I’ve sold things, served beer, written software, and carried heavy objects… sometimes at the same place. It’s that range of loves and activities that makes it so easy for me to love DC – we’ve got it all.


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