Do something meaningful
Tis the season to do something special, so why not donate your time and money to those less fortunate? There's no shortage of fantastic charities out there, and we've handpicked a few of our favorites.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Give the Gift of Hope
Show your support for diabetics by sending Gift of Hope Program holiday cards. There are dozens of designs and colors to choose from, and all can be shipped within two to three business days. Envelope personalization is also available.
The cards come most commonly in packs of 20, with prices ranging from $11-$29.
Photo Credit: Gift of Hope
Give Toys to Children in Need
The IKEA Soft Toy campaign began in 2003 and has since raised more than $30 million for UNICEF and Save the Children, and benefited 8 million disadvantaged children in developing countries, giving them an opportunity to get a better education.
For every soft toy sold between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24, IKEA will donate approx $1.30 to Save the Children and UNICEF. With soft toy prices ranging from just 49 cents to $19.99, these cuddly toys make the perfect stocking stuffers and grab-bag gifts for the children on your list. This year for the first time during the final week of the promotion (Dec. 18-24), IKEA will also donate approximately $1.30 for every kids' menu item ordered in its restaurant.
Photo Credit: IKEA Hong Kong
Help Afghan Women Improve Their Lives
Afghan Hands teaches skills that help Afghan widows obtain independence and secure a livable wage. At Afghan Hands centers in and around Kabul, Afghanistan, women learn to create embroidered shawls and scarves, and connect with the world around them.
Through Afghan Hands, these women get a chance to learn about their human rights and they prepare for work as free women.
Large scarves cost anywhere from $95-$200 on the organization's website.
Photo Credit: Afghan Hands
Donate Gently Used Goods
Soles4Shoes gives to people with no access to shoes. You can donate money, organize a shoe drive or send your own shoes through this charity to help those without the means to buy footwear.
The Nashville-based charity was founded by Wayne Elsey, and has given away nearly 12 million pairs of new and gently worn shoes since 2005, according to its website. People in more than 125 countries.
For shipping and drop off information, visit the Soles4Shoes website.
Photo Credit: Soles4Shoes
Donate Your Cell Phone
Cell Phones for Soldiers turns old cell phones into prepaid calling cards for U.S. troops stationed overseas. Phones are sent to ReCellular, which then pays Cell Phones for Soldiers for each donated phone.
Cell Phones for Soldiers was founded by two teenagers with their own cash. Since then, the organization has raised almost $2 million in donations, and distributed more than 500,000 prepaid calling cards to soldiers overseas.
The founding family hopes to raise more than $9 million in the next five years to fund new programs, like video phones with prepaid service.
Photo credit: compujeramey
Give Someone a Ticket to Ride
Big Brothers Big Sisters Cars for Kids' Sake raises funds through the donation of unwanted vehicles — even if they don't work — to help kids in your community. The charity accepts all types of vehicles, from SUVs to farm equipment, and offers a tax deduction as well.
Donating is easy. Call 800-710-9145, or follow the steps on its site to arrange for a pick-up.
Photo Credit: Cars for Kids' Sake
Donate Your Books
ReadThis is a New York-based program that works to promote reading to a variety of age groups.
Launched in 2008, the organization has almost 2,000 members currently, according to its website. The charity provides books to public schools, overseas troops, pediatric wards and homeless shelters.
To donate, check the news section of the organization's website to find a book drive near you.
Photo credit: ReadThis
Warm a Heart With a Coat
Good Morning America has teamed up with Burlington Coat Factory for Warm Coats Warm Hearts, a nationwide coat drive.
Donating is easy, just visit your local Burlington Coat Factory. Gently worn coats are OK, as well as other winter-weather clothing like sweaters, hats and gloves.
Photo Credit: Liz (perspicacious.org)
Make Wishes Come True
The HOPE Program teamed up with the Robin Hood Foundation to post client wish lists on Amazon.com. Each “wish” offers a personal story, so you and your family can select one that speaks to you.
The HOPE Program helps New Yorkers get out of poverty by providing job training, as well as GED test preparation.
Another great charity that offers client wish lists to help with shopping is the Victim Rights Law Center. The VRLC was the first nonprofit law center to work only on providing legal services to victims of rape and sexual assault.
Contact the VRLC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit: HOPE Program
Give Back to Marine Animals
The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation operates the New York State Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program, which facilitates the rescue and rehabilitation of those lovable sea creatures like seals, sea turtles, whales, dolphins and porpoises.
Since the Riverhead Foundation is a nonprofit, it relies on the public for donations. Lend a hand by adopting an animal or providing gifts of needed supplies.
Photo Credit: The Riverhead Foundation
Help the Military Serve Our Tots
The U. S. Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots Program snaps up unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distributes them as Christmas gifts to needy children all over the states. You can also donate money online or vehicles.
Toys for Tots collections and distribution happen mostly in communities in which a Marine Corps Reserve Unit is located, so visit the Toys for Tots website to find a drive near you.
Photo credit: wjarrettc