Fab Friday Five - Charity Edition

As most of you know, I'm deeply rooted in the idea of helping others.  Most people do this through spreading their faith and trying to convince everyone in the world to believe in Jesus (whatever happened to America being the place for freedom from religious persecution, eh?).  I, however, believe that the best way to help people isn't to tell them who they should or should not believe in, but to make sure that they have the means to achieve a healthy and happy life.  To me, that means to make sure every living thing (human and animal) has access to shelter, food, water, clothing, medicine, and education.  (I mean, obviously animals don't NEED clothing and education, I know that...don't be rude!)

There are a ton of charities out there that help provide all of these things.  Some are very well known while others are only known by a few.  Some do great things while others only claim to do great things.  There are also a few that are half-and-half...they do some really great things, but there's also a lot of controversy surrounding them as to where exactly all of their money goes.  If you're thinking of getting involved with a charity, search for them on Charity Navigator.  This website rates charities on several different aspects including how much of their collected money goes to help their cause and how much money their executive officers are paid.

My favorite kinds of charities are the ones that you can do something to help right from your home (even though it would be AWESOME to be able to volunteer to go help build a school in Ecuador or somewhere equally deserving) and also, as selfish as this will sound, charities that accept your help without having to explicitly give a lot of money.  The fact is, I just don't have that much extra to money to give.  I do what I can (I donate a dollar every time I check out at PetSmart), but I just can't financially afford more than $20. 

So here are some of my absolute favorites!

your birthday can change the world!
Give up your birthday for the gift of clean water HERE
CHARITY WATER is one of my favorites.  They've got a 4 star rating on Charity Navigator (97/100% ...84% of all collected monies goes to the support of their projects and only 7.5% goes to pay the administrators)

Charity Water build wells and other necessary devices to help provide clean water to impoverished areas.

You can do just like this picture says:  raise money for your birthday (through a digital fundraiser on their website) and they take that money and put it towards a project.  Once completed, they'll send you photos of the project as well as a GPS location.  Now I know some of you are cynics and are saying "That could be any old picture of any project....your money went to pay for the CEOs new desk"  and that's fine if you think that...but I like to see the good in people (call me naive) and I believe that they wouldn't do that.

Project C.U.R.E - Kits for Kids
This charity - Project C.U.R.E. - also has a 4 star rating on Charity Navigator (97/100%....98% of what they collect goes to their programs and 0.3% goes to administrators)

Project C.U.R.E. provides medical resources to all areas of the world in need.

This is my absolute favorite charity!  My favorite program with Project C.U.R.E. is Kits for Kids.  I think it would be a great project for a workplace, school, or church to do together as an organization.

Here's how it works:  Order some bags (pay $5 shipping/handling), fill the bags with medical and hygienic items kids (and babies) need such as bandaids, toothbrushes, bar soap, hand sanitizer, childrens tylenol, and antibiotic ointment.  Then you mail the bags back to a collection center (last time I checked, they asked you include a $10 donation to help with the international shipping charges but I don't see that now).  You can then track the location of your bags with an included tracker tag.

You can get most of that stuff at the dollar store!  What an awesome way to help others!

Project C.U.R.E. also accepts donated medical supplies from medical facilities to send to clinics in developing countries who don't have regular access to things like culture swabs, IV kits, scalpels, and sterilization supplies as well equipment items such as IV poles, ultrasound machines, and surgical instruments.

Charity Miles donates money to your favorite charity for every mile you walk, run or bike. | 25 Free Apps That Are Making The World A Better Place
Charity Miles app
Charity Miles is this app that you can get on both the Apple App store and Android Google Play store.  The way it works is simple:  You pick a charity to support (with such known ones as ASPCA, Wounded Warrior Project, and Habitat for Humanity).  Then all you have to do is walk, run, or bike (with your phone on you, of course).  For every mile you go, Charity Miles donates money to your selected charity.  Bikers earn 10 cents for each mile and walkers/joggers/runners earn 25 cents.  From what I can see, however, it only works if you're actually outside moving.  Several reviewers I found online mentioned that they run on a treadmill and it doesn't log any miles as the app uses the GPS in your phone (so you have to have location services turned on for the app) to see how far you've traveled.  So it's not GREAT, but every little bit helps!

Donate books to schools in Africa
Books for Africa (another 4 star charity with Charity Navigator) accepts books, computers, and school supplies and sends them to villages, schools, and struggling universities in Africa to promote literacy.  They accept books from preschool level and up, including textbooks and vocational books (except music) along with paper, pens, and world maps.  They don't accept magazines, books about American history, or cookbooks/wedding planning.  They will accept french books and french dictionaries (as a large part of Africa speaks French).  They will accept bibles, but ask that they be mailed in a separate box marked "religious" and will distribute them when specifically asked.  They also won't accept murder mysteries with derogatory terms in the title.  All you have to do is mail some books to Atlanta (or drop them off in Atlanta or St. Paul, MN).  That's it!  They do ask that you also give 50 cents along with each book you send to help cover cost of shipping, but it is not a requirement.

Warren the Charity Bear - a free teddy bear pattern from Shiny Happy World
Sew and stuff an easy bear to give to children
I've always wanted to help volunteer at the Children's Hospital of Georgia right here in Augusta, but every time I look at their website, they're not accepting volunteer applications.  And after having spent a little bit of time there with my coworker's family, the want to help is even greater.  One thing that can be done to help out is to sew this easy little bear (his name is Warren the Charity Bear) using the pattern from the link provided in the caption under the picture.  You sew and stuff a bear and then bring it to your local hospital (or homeless shelter, or shelter for abused women and children, or an orphanage, or anywhere with kids in need) and give it away.  It may not be able to actually HELP the child, but it will offer them some comfort as they endure whatever it is they're going through, whether it be chemo, or surgery, or not having any bears of their own because they don't have a home.  There are a ton of other easy patterns out there for other stuffed animals for this same purpose.  I don't have a sewing machine, but I could hand stitch these if I needed to!

Have a good weekend...and think about doing something great to help your fellow man, whether it be right here at home in the community or somewhere on the other side of the world.  
It doesn't matter...just do some good!

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