Holiday charities 2014

flower in hands

photo: Flickr user Hamed Saber (cc)

This month we talked with a bunch of people about holiday gifts, both giving and getting . And one of the questions was about favorite charities.

A lot people make donations this time of year. So we've gathered all those charities mentioned into one easy-scan list.

If you're still looking for a place to support this year, you might find it on this list...

Heifer International
Suggested by: Lecco Morris
"I would want the best world-improvement bang for your buck with charities. I think that Heifer International hits the nail on the head -- gifts of farm animals to families and communities that can develop sustainable businesses and practices and systematically pull whole communities out of poverty. This addresses ecological and human needs on a personal, local scale -- the ripple effect of Heifer's work has been incredible to watch."

Capital District Humane Association
Suggested by: Heather LaVine
"Animal rescue groups. Vic and I have two pups that both came from local rescue groups. Charlie, our newest pup, came from the Capital District Humane Association. Their adoption process was really thoughtful and thorough; definitely an organization to support."

Survival International
Suggested by: Sean Rowe
From the org's website: "Our work is preventing the annihilation of tribal peoples. We give them a platform to speak to the world. We investigate atrocities and present evidence to the United Nations and other international forums. We support legal representation. We fund medical and self-help projects. We educate, research, campaign, lobby and protest. And we won't give up until we all have a world where tribal peoples are respected and their human rights protected."

Sweethearts for a Cause
Suggested by: Elizabeth Zunon
"I would like to support my own non-profit called 'Sweethearts for a Cause,' started by my mother, a family friend and myself. We are very very small, and raise funds through bottle drives, T-shirt sales and saving spare change to send money when we can to a group of orphanages in Cote d'Ivoire (the Ivory Coast), West Africa."

Thomas Patrick Morrison Foundation
Suggested by: Katie O'Malley Maloney
"I am lucky enough to support the Thomas Patrick Morrison Foundation all year long. This season I am especially excited to pick up a beautiful 'Chavez for Charity Bracelet' at Crabtree & Evelyn in Stuyvesant Plaza -- 25 percent of the gross proceeds go directly to support the foundation and local families in need. My husband and I also love to support Capital Region Action Against Breast Cancer and Adopt A Family."

Organizations helping the homeless
Suggested by: Brandon Jones
"As far as charities, I would very much like to support those who are homeless. It has always been very close to my heart, and would like to donate my time and energy getting people off of the street." (Brandon didn't mention a specific charity. So here are a few local ones: the Homeless and Travelers Aid Society of Albany, Capital City Rescue Mission.)

Suggested by: Ethan Ullman
"Proctors. It's technically a charity, and I technically work there, so I technically want to support it because I technically get paid by Proctors so I technically want to support myself."

Suggested by: Rachel Person
"Among others I'll be supporting is Wellspring, which is the new name of Domestic Violence Rape Crisis of Saratoga County. They do incredible -- and vital -- work on a tiny budget."

Ali Forney Center
Suggested by: Sean Desiree
"The Ali Forney Center is the largest and most comprehensive organization in the nation dedicated to housing LGBT youth. AFC serves youth aged 16-24, and provides emergency and transitional housing, street outreach, a drop-in center, medical and mental health treatment, a vocational/educational program, and a counseling project for the families of LGBT youth. The Sanctuary Fund is a Holding Our Own donor-advised fund for women and families who need to leave their homes without notice, as a result of a disaster, a divorce, domestic violence, and beyond."

Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York
Suggested by: Lauren Hittinger Hodgson
"My husband George and I semi-regularly volunteer at the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, which is an amazing place. Spending time there always makes me feel more centered and humble, even if I just spent two hours sorting frozen foods. The past couple of years, we have also donated a little bit of money to Unity House's Adopt-a-Family program. I like the idea that I'm helping, even if just a little bit, to make someone else's December a wonderful time of year."

Oakwood Community Center
Suggested by: Erin Pihlaja
"I try and support as many local charitable organizations that I can. This year, I'm going to try and help the Oakwood Community Center hit some of their targeted goals. They are working on building neighborhood connections in an area of Troy that really needs it. The Soul Café is a great event -- eat delicious food while helping the center, it's great."

Environmental Working Group
Suggested by: Daniel B.
"Fighting hunger is a huge issue and one that I support. But I also think it's important to make sure people have access to cleaner foods, and one organization that is helping that charge is the Environmental Working Group. For years I have listed their report on pesticide loads on produce in the sidebar of the blog. Educating consumers and helping them to make better choices leads to more people voting with their wallets and corporations producing cleaner versions of everyday products. And it extends beyond food to things like moisturizers and sunscreens. As well branded as they are, Charity Navigator still gives the EWG a 4* rating and that gives me the assurance that my donation will be well spent."

Peaceful Acres Horses
Suggested by: Deanna Fox
"There are so many charities I'd love to support, it's always hard to choose one! I typically support food, agriculture, and historic preservation causes (all topics dear to me), but this year I'd give to Peaceful Acres Horses. People go ga-ga for horses in this area, but tend to forget about how many abused and neglected horses there are; we dispose of them so easily once they can't entertain us anymore. The folks at Peaceful Acres work tirelessly to ensure that horses can receive proper care and love, even if they aren't 'useful' anymore."


STRIDE Adaptive Sports is a great organization to support! STRIDE provides sport programs like skiing, bowling, swimming, camping, and a learn-to-ride bike camp for children with disabilities and Wounded Warriors. It's amazing to see and hear about some of the lives changed in the adaptive sport programs. For so many of the kids and veterans, they think that their disabilities limit them from doing things. When they get involved with STRIDE, their smiles are HUGE as they discover what they CAN do.

Also consider a donation of money, toys, non-perishable food items, hygiene products, or even your time to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region.

Three inter-connected gorgeous victorian homes on South Lake in Albany serve as a home-away-from home for families who have children admitted to local hospitals. The Ronald McDonald House is a beautiful, comfortable, and supportive place that the family can stay so they do not have to worry about how to afford hotel stays to be near their ill child. Home-cooked meals are also generously provided to families every night by volunteers so that parents who have spent stressful days at their childrens' hospital bedsides do not have to worry about cooking dinner.

The RMH Charities also provide dental care to local, low-income children. Further, the RMH Charities also run a Family Room at Albany Med that provides snacks and a place to relax so that families have a retreat to go to within the hospital itself.

To support a historical, local non-profit benefiting children and dedicated to supporting summer camp for girls who cannot afford it - please think about giving to Friends of Camp Little Notch. CLN is located in Fort Ann, NY.

We really need your help right now as we are trying to finish buying the land from Open Space Institute, and have until January 9th to raise the funds.
Donate IPOD Shuffles to our dementia patients in assisted living facilities. Music does wonderful things for the mind!
Donate to Recovery High Schools for youth sober and drug free! We need more of these!

Remember it is always a good idea, especially with very large organizations, to check their ratings on Charity Navigator.

Two organizations I support regularly, year-round are Feeding America and Blissful Bedrooms.
Capital Roots (Capital District Community Gardens)

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