The other day, I wrote about how I would spend the money if I won the power ball. In the midst of my giant love letter to consumerism and greed, I made the tiniest of references to contributing to society by giving to my favorite charities. I’ve got a pretty strong opinion on what makes a good charity organization, and I don’t think most of them are worth giving money to. In order to get a piece of my income, a charity has to openly and diligently serve a pretty noble cause. To me, a charity should serve their function without political, an generally without religious, agenda.
You can’t be a slave to two masters. If the charity is serving a political group, it is impossible for them to also serve their cause. There is a little bit of a gray space here for religious charities. Generally, I prefer to avoid them, because they tend to only serve those of their own religion, or for the purpose of recruiting to their religion. However, it’s rare that I meet a true man of God (any God) that doesn’t fully believe that it is his duty to take care of those who need him, regardless of who they are.
4 Charities You should be supporting
1) Child’s Play
If you are not familiar with the Child’s Play charity, you probably haven’t spent much time reading gaming blogs or web comics. Created by Penny Arcade’s Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, Child’s Play is an amazing charity that grew out of a rant at the portrayal of video games as “murder simulators” by Jack Thompson and the talking heads that make up cable entertainment news. The idea became if video games can be used for kids to separate themselves so far from reality that they will think they are playing a video game when they gun down and eat their principal, then maybe it could help kids going through some traumatic medical experiences separate themselves enough from reality that they can imagine their insides are made something other than molten lead.
They’ve streamlined the process of making sure the games and movies get to the places they need to be. You don’t have to go out and buy a toy, you don’t have to drop it off in a box and hope that no jerkoff runs away with it, you don’t even have to trust them to deliver it for you. You simply go to Amazon, buy the gift on the wishlist for the hospital of your choice, and it gets shipped straight there. You can even choose to give to a hospital in your area. They are currently taking care of hospitals all over the world, and if the hospital near you isn’t on the list, you can help get them there.
Another feather in the proverbial hat, Child’s Play has a reputation for being the geekiest charity ever. The basic concept is giving video games and movies to kids. It excites someone like me doubly. I think video games are awesome, and I love ideas that take a negative image, like the gamer geek stereo type and turn them on their heads.
2) Best Friends Animal Society
If you have a soul, you know that animal charities move you. How can you say no to puppies? Yet, there are millions of homeless animals just here in the US alone. At face value Best Friends probably doesn’t seem like the most effective charity in the world. They want to help eliminate the problem with homelessness for some of the cutest, sweetest, and most awesome dogs ever, that might happen to have a health issue or a birth defect, but they don’t go after the big evil puppy mills or set animal abusers on fire by coating them in phosphorous.
What they do give is something there probably isn’t enough of in this world, and that is love.
Yes, I believe puppy mills are cruel and sadistic torture houses the likes of which should be reserved for the worst of humanity, namely the people who run the puppy mills. Yes, I valiantly stand in favor of adding animal cruelty to the list of crimes that Constitutionally guarantee the death penalty. Yes, I think that animals are generally better than people. Wait, I had a point.
Oh yeah, you can’t say no to puppies. They are cuddly, lovable, and cute. Kittens on the other hand.
3) The American Cancer Society
Let’s face it, the older we get, the more exponential our chances of developing cancer are. This is especially true for people such as myself that are genetically predisposed to cancer. There are multiple cancer survivors in my family. We wouldn’t know that a genetic predisposition significantly increased your risk of cancer if it wasn’t for research funded by the ACS. In fact, it was research funded by the ACS that allowed us to discover the root cause which was a huge leap on the way to finding the cure.
Even if you are not predisposed, you will get cancer if you live long enough. That’s just a matter of playing the odds. It is in everyone’s best interest to support the people that will help us find the cure. After they do, then we can all start partying pretty hardcore with the carcinogens again. I mean, don’t you guys really, really miss asbestos and lead?
Oh, yeah, these guys helped us discover the connections there, too.
4)Heroes 4 Heroes
Agree with wars or not, agree with the politics or not, one thing we can all agree on is that the US Soldiers are doing a service to their country, even if it isn’t necessarily the service they signed up for. There are hundreds of thousands of men and women who have put their lives on hold and endured hell and worse as a service to our nation, and in a way, they are doing it for the rest of the world, as well. I can understand the higher calling of serving in the armed forces, and I think soldiers deserve our respect and support.
Heroes 4 Heroes agrees with me.
Like I said, these guys and gals are serving in some of the most horrible places in the world, and when they aren’t getting shot at by crazies, or helping defend the not crazies from crazies, they are probably sitting around being bored and getting into trouble. After all, a certain type of personality is attracted to military service, and its the type that likes to get into trouble. That’s where Heroes 4 Heroes comes in. H4H sends video games, movies, magazines and music to our soldiers overseas. It gives them not only something to occupy their time while waiting for the next batch of explosives to rain down on their heads, but also gives them a link to those of us back home.
A connection to their civilian lives not only gives the a constant reminder of why they are over there, but also helps them adjust to life once they are back here doing the humdrum. It’s great how video games can really make a difference in people’s lives.
You don’t have to give money
Let’s face it. Most of us give money to charities because it’s an easy way for us to buy off our own conscience. The problem is, we live in a time when the economy is tanked, 12% of us are looking for jobs that don’t exist, and a lot of us are barely able to get by on our own. That makes it really hard for us to be able to give money to the charities that help people who are slightly worse off than we are.
There is more you can do though. If you feel passionately about something, there are several ways you can help out and support your favorite causes. You can donate time, old stuff, even a few hundred words on a blog to show a little bit of encouragement. Everyone has something they feel strongly about, I’m sure if you look hard enough you can find an organization that is working on your issue. If you can’t, maybe you can’t start one of your own.
Don’t forget, sometimes, the biggest thing we can do, is encourage others to support, too. Spread the word, and maybe, just maybe, we can actually make a difference on something in this world.