Saturday, August 01, 2009

Charity: Three Ways to Give

My last post (Small Houses, No Houses) included some disturbing information about several tent cities that have been created by people who are homeless. Who would have imagined that in 2009 our society would have tent cities that look like something out of the 1930s? At least there are finally predictions that the economy is on the upswing again. Today, an LA Times article by Don Lee said:

"The worst recession since the Great Depression could be coming to an end shortly, with a fresh [economic] report raising hopes that a recovery may be stronger than previously projected."

I hope that optimistic prediction is right, but the current global financial mess still indicates that charitable giving is needed from any of us who can afford to give it. With that in mind, here are three ideas for giving -- our cash, our clutter or our time.

(1) Donate cash: Regular blog reader Sue Sorensen alerted me to an unusual project that's being initiated in Edmonds, Washington:

"A friend, Carol Schillios, runs a nonprofit organization that provides micro-loans to women in Third World countries and runs a craft training school in Africa for young women beggars. The Fabric of Life Foundation also has a fair trade boutique on Main Street in Edmonds, WA, where I live. You will be seeing a lot of Carol in the news later this week when she moves to the roof of the boutique to promote awareness that we can all be of service to the world in our own small ways. Carol will live in a tent on the roof [for one month to encourage] one million people to send her a dollar and tell her one small thing they're doing to help their community or the world."

All the donations to the charity are tax-deductible. Carol's already camping out and will begin blogging on Monday, August 3rd. You'll be able to go "Up On the Roof with Carol" to find out more about the progress of her unique fund-raising plan. Her seven-year old foundation is currently setting up credit unions, savings cooperatives and educational training opportunities in West Africa and Viet Nam, but in the past they have worked in other countries from Kenya to Thailand. Sounds worthwhile. I hope it doesn't rain very much in Edmonds!

(2) Unclutter your home: Sometimes the most obvious and familiar charities may get overlooked or taken for granted. Goodwill has been around for over one hundred years, providing not only well-stocked stores filled with our gently used household items, but also offering job training and employment placement to disadvantaged people who truly need this assistance.

Goodwill of Southern California ranks number nine in the top ten charities with the most consecutive four-star ratings from the very useful organization, Charity Navigator, "America's premier independent charity evaluator."

As I continue uncluttering with my 365 Item Toss challenge, I'll be hauling more useless stuff to Goodwill so that those things can become useful again in someone else's life.

(3) Give your time: There are many charities that appreciate volunteers, but if you happen to be a health care professional, Remote Area Medical, "pioneers of no-cost health care," needs your help. RAM was founded in 1985 as a "non-profit, volunteer, airborne relief corps dedicated to serving mankind by providing free health care, dental care, eye care, veterinary services, and technical and educational assistance to people in remote areas of the United States and the world." This amazing volunteer group now stages special short-term health care events and expeditions in both rural and urban locations, offering free medical attention to anyone who is "uninsured, under-insured, unemployed, or under-employed."

The health care crisis in this country surpasses the housing crisis in severity. These medical angels make a tremendous difference in the lives they touch. They'll be here in Los Angeles at the Forum in Inglewood from August 11-18th.

Is there something, one small thing, we all can do, no matter what our circumstances, that will make a difference? Here's a quote that will help us answer that question:
"A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog."

Jack London

U.S. adventurer, author and sailor (1876 - 1916)

© 2009 Cynthia Friedlob


dB said...

People tend to forget on #3 that if you spend any money by giving your time (such as travel expenses), that's a tax deduction. Of course, that's not the reason to be charitable, but it is a nice bonus. A lot of people have nothing to give but time. Especially with the unemployment rate so high.

Cynthia Friedlob said...

Excellent point! Getting a tax deduction never hurts.

So true that many people have only time to give, but cutbacks in funding for non-profits often mean loss of staff, so donating time probably helps even more now than during the more prosperous years. Makes you feel good, too.

Thanks for commenting.