Thursday, January 2, 2014

Season of Giving 2013 Continues? Splendid!

So I had this great plan to expand my Season of Giving this year.  I was going to pick more charities to donate to, and I was going to find really great companies that partner with charities to give back, and I was going to write beautiful posts about all of them in the two weeks leading up to Christmas.

But then, you know what?  I got busy with work, SAI, and social obligations, and I haven't gotten around to writing any of my "scheduled" posts.

I didn't want to completely abandon the concept, and I still donated to charities, so instead of doing multiple posts, I'm just going to do one, giant, big-ass post with the remaining organizations.

I did manage to write another post about the Eastern Illinois Foodbank to kick things off this year.  You can read that here.

In addition to the EIF, I gave money to the American Red Cross specifically in my area.  Back in November tornadoes swept through Illinois.  An EF4 tornado ripped through Washington while an EF3 tornado hit Gifford.  Other towns throughout Illinois were hit with severe weather and tornadoes that day as well, but Gifford and Washington are especially important to me.  Gifford is a small farming town 20 miles from where I live.  Two of my coworkers live in Gifford, and though their homes were thankfully and luckily untouched, they shared stories of the terrible damage caused by the weather.  I took a special interest in the recovery efforts in Washington because one of my dearest friends and her family live in Washington.  They were fortunate enough that their property sustained no real damage.  However good friends of theirs lost their entire house and all their belongings.

Knowing that I would not be a real help to the relief effort, the best way I knew to help was to make a donation to the Central Illinois Chapter of the Red Cross.

The next two charities were suggestions from my friends.

Bryan suggested I donate to the Wounded Warrior Project.  The ten year old organization helps veterans through a number of programs.  They have projects to help them stay connected with other vets, programs to help them find civilian jobs appropriate for their experience, projects to help with physical recovery from injuries sustained while on active duty, and programs aimed at mental health.  One of the things that struck me about the WWP website is that on the Programs page, it shows the mental health programs first, which I appreciate.  I love knowing that there is an organization that is making a concentrated effort on improving the mental health of the men and women who have been in combat while serving this country.  The Wounded Warrior Project casts an even wider net by offering a grant program to help other nonprofit organizations that support our veterans!

The final charity for this year was suggested by Elizabeth.  Girls Inc. is a nonprofit aimed at inspiring girls to be "strong, smart, and bold."  I love that mission statement!  I want all girls to be strong, smart and bold!  The programs Girls Inc. offers cover a wide range of subjects including economic literacy, community action, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) skills, and preventing teen pregnancy, among others.  The organization has more than 1,400 sites in 350 cities in North America.  Each year they serve 136,000 young women ages 6-18.  Unfortunately there are no affiliates in Illinois, but there are plenty in the surrounding states!  The website has some great resources explaining their programs, how you can support the organization, and resources for parents and their daughters.  One of these resources is the Girls Inc. Girls' Bill of Rights.  It's wonderful.

If you made charitable donations last year, I would love to know which organizations you supported!

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