Whether it's the season of giving or just any ordinary day of the year, giving back can be incredibly rewarding. Choosing a charity to support can be a really personal decision, and it often involves forming a connection with the work the charity is doing (either through our personal experience or being touched by the story of the organization).
Our team here at LoveToKnow is proud to support a number of charities, both as individuals and as a company. Here are a few of the big ones for us (we think they could be big ones for you too).
JZips: Making Chemo a Little Easier for Kids
JZips is a charity that helps create zippered shirts for kids who are fighting cancer and need a mediport for chemo. It allows them to have treatments without having to change into a hospital gown. When Jordan Harouche was diagnosed with cancer at 15, his mom, Jodi came up with the idea of creating a zippered shirt to make port access easier. Jordan ran with the idea and started a charity to provide these shirts and empower kids with cancer.
We love this organization because it's about making life a little easier (in a super practical way) during a really difficult time. JZips has made over 8,000 shirts for kids, and they're still hard at work.
Second Harvest Heartland: Feeding the Hungry & Building Community
Second Harvest Heartland is a food bank in the Midwest that takes large donations of food from companies and breaks them down into smaller quantities to send to food pantries. My son and I volunteer there regularly sorting and repackaging food, and it's been an amazing learning experience for both of us.
It feels like we're making a difference in our community, and we also get to connect with other volunteers and broaden our perspectives. There are so many families experiencing food insecurity, and volunteering and donating lets people feel like they are helping in a very real way.
Make-A-Wish Foundation: Empowering Critically Ill Kids
The Make-a-Wish Foundation grants the wishes of critically ill kids — things like a bedroom makeover or a trip to Disney World. Beyond just fulfilling the wish, this charity really empowers kids who might not otherwise feel like they have a lot of control over what's happening in their lives. Our Staff Writer Heidi loves this organization and even participated in a dance competition to help raise money for them.
Carolina Waterfowl & Rescue: Saving and Rehabilitating Injured Wildlife
Megan, another Staff Writer on our team, has a special place in her heart for Carolina Waterfowl & Rescue, a nonprofit that specializes in saving and helping to rehabilitate birds in the Carolinas. Megan lives so close to this organization that she can hear the geese honking from her yard, and she sees first-hand how they help protect nature in the Carolinas. Community members can call to report injured animals, and volunteers come to check on the animal and help it.
Autism Involves Me: Connecting & Helping Families Affected by Autism
Having a child on the autism spectrum can feel really isolating for families (I know this because my eldest son has autism). Staff Writer Heidi helped facilitate a 5k walk to support an organization that directly helps with this isolation. It's called Autism Involves Me, and it works to help families make connections, attend sensory-friendly events, and get access to important therapies and other resources. We love how this is a real-world way to help people who could really use community support. Visit their website at www.aimnwa.org to donate or learn more.
Kiva: Changing Lives by Facilitating Microloans Around the World
Our Editorial Director, Carrie, has been involved with a cool and unique organization called Kiva for many years. Kiva lets individuals make small loans to other people around the world for life-changing things like starting or expanding a business. Carrie says that her initial donation of $25 has been repaid and re-loaned several times.
She loves how she can choose who to lend money to, such as single moms or people who need help right away to make the loan happen. She also likes choosing by location and is trying to hit as many different countries as she can.
Carrie has bought $25 Kiva gift cards for her kids' teachers as holiday presents. We love this idea of a charitable donation as a teacher gift!
CASA: Advocating for Children Who Need a Voice
Our Deputy Editor, Karen, volunteered as a Guardian ad Litem/CASA (court-appointed special advocate) for CASA, an organization that helps advocate for kids who had been removed from their parents due to neglect or abuse. CASAs are often the only advocate that speaks for the child and only the child. It is very challenging and involved work, but Karen feels it is absolutely worthwhile to give kids a voice. CASA encourages volunteering and donations so they can help kids who need it.
Dance Party for Parkinson's: Providing Free Movement Classes
Our General Manager, Amy Boshnack, got involved with Dance Party for Parkinson's when her friend Beth, the founder, asked her to join their board. Beth was diagnosed with Early Onset Parkinson's at age 36, the same illness as Michael J. Fox.
Dance Party for Parkinson's makes it their mission to provide free movement classes because this type of therapy is amazing for those battling the disease — but it shouldn't cost an arm and a leg. Illnesses are expensive and often people choose to skip the one thing that can help their body and their mind because it's cost-prohibitive. Beth says, "It lifts people's spirits almost immediately and helps to slow the progression of the disease." If you'd like to help, you can donate on their website.
Having a personal connection to someone affected by an illness can be very powerful when it comes to getting involved with a charity. Amy jumped in to help with Dance Party for Parkinson's because she saw how it could make a difference in the lives of people like her friend.
World Help: Providing Life-Saving Supplies to People Who Need Them
Staff Writer Sydney loves donating to World Help because it makes a real difference for people in need. This charity provides supplies like blankets, medical kits, and food to people who are struggling around the world. You can sponsor a child and see your donation change their life, or you can volunteer your time or donate money in other ways. One of the things we like about this organization is that it's easy to find ways to get involved. Find out more at worldhelp.net.
Golden Harvest: Feeding Those in Need & Making Community Connections
One of the things Staff Editor Amy Finley loves about Golden Harvest, a nonprofit food resource organization with locations in Georgia and South Carolina, is that there is a true sense of community and genuine care for the people they serve. She volunteers there and loves how easy the process is.
Golden Harvest has a daily meal program, stationary and mobile "markets" to provide people with necessities, an urban farm, and food banks. While their focus is to "bridge communities and provide food resources" what is just as important is that they provide love, compassion, and respect at times when people need it most. People can get involved by volunteering, donating, or hosting traditional or virtual food drives.
Just as Rewarding for You
Whether you have a personal connection to someone facing a challenge or want to help give back to your community, getting involved in charities can be an important way to make a real difference. We know from experience that donating money or supplies, volunteering, and fundraising can be just as rewarding for us as it is for the charity we support.