As much as we all love to receive gifts during the holidays, the real reward comes when we give back. And as this year has proven, there are plenty causes that need your helping hand or generous donation.
With so much going on in the world right now, from wildfires to the White House, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. We've put together a list of places where you can offer support and make a difference.
Help Camp Fire and SoCal Fire Victims
2018 was another record year for wildfires in California, from Butte County all the way down to Los Angeles.
Support those affected by the the Camp Fire:
- You can also donate to a variety of local organizations at sonomacounty.recovers.org.
- The North Valley Community Foundation, Butte County Office of Education, and United Way of Northern California are all still taking monetary donations
- The Airbnb Evacuee Program is looking for people with available housing to provide shelter for evacuees who have been forced from their homes.
- Go online to the Salvation Army's Del Oro division website to give monetary donations, find volunteering opprotunities, and see what goods are most needed, currently.
- CaliforniaVolunteers is still looking for volunteers.
- The Oroville Hope Center is still looking for volunteers to help clean up the aftermath, as well as monetary and goods.
How you can help our SoCal neighbors:
- The United Way has created a Disaster Relief Fund to quote "support our low-income neighbors whose lives and livelihoods are affected by the current wildfires in Southern California."
- Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation is in need of monetary donations to help recoup the cost of resources used to help ward-off the recent blazes.
- The Ventura County Community Foundation has set up a fund raise funds and good for local nonprofits serving the victims of the Woolsey and Hill fires.
Help the Homeless in the Bay Area
Homelessness is a major issue facing San Francisco. Take time during the holidays to show you care.
- Donate to Simply the Basics, a San Francisco-based charity that provides basic needs to those who need them; simplythebasics.org.
- Through Episcopal Community Services of SF, you can help those who are less fortunate. $10 can feed one person for a day, $35 will provide two meals and a bed, and $100 will give someone a G.E.D. test and prep materials. Help fund a meal at ecs-sf.org.
- HandUp is now part of South Oakland Shelter's mission to "build communities that end homelessness." You can learn the stories of individuals and families that you can donate to directly, find campaigns to help, or donate to the HandUp Fund. Learn more at handup.org.
- There are over a dozen giving opportunities that will help those of the Bay Area's Women & Children's Center. This includes helping to buy library books for Tenderloin students, and donating a percentage of eligible Amazon purchases to this nonprofit resource center. See how you can help at bawcc.org/Ways-to-donate.
It's been said that by donating blood, one person can help save the lives of up to three people. Every three seconds, someone needs a blood transfusion, so the need for donors is constant (especially in times of disaster).
Support Our Animal Shelters
Our furry friends need love too, and can use assistance around the holidays, whether you donate your time, money, or items. You can:
- Donate towels, linens, and blankets (for kennels) to your local shelter or pet hospital.
- Donate pet food, cat litter, baby food, bowls, litter boxes, toys, and any other pet necessities—as well as your time and dollars—to shelters such as Nine Lives Foundation, Humane Society Silicon Valley, and the San Francisco SPCA.
Give Back to the Planet
Our seas are rising and our flora and fauna are dwindling. Don't sit by—there are things you can do to help reverse the effects of severe climate change:
- The Environmental Defense Fund is perhaps the most wide-ranging organization out there to give back to. All donations go toward funding anything from "climate refugee efforts" to on-the-hill political lobbying for a net-zero carbon future.
- The Nature Conservancy safeguards ecologically important lands and waters around the world, putting scientists on the ground to deliver groundbreaking research. Every dollar donated goes toward future findings that could, ultimatley, help save the planet.
- The Save The Redwoods League has worked to safeguard and restore our native redwood forests for now over a century, connecting people to these giant sequoia's' boundless beauty as often as possible. Every donation, no matter the monetary amount, will help the non-profit create and protect these ancient forests of tomorrow—and you'll get some cool, eco-savvy swag sent to your doorstep, to boot.
- The Trust for Public Land constructs parks and protects land for people, solidifying healthy, sustainable communities for generations to come.
- The Sierra Club Foundation is the monetary sponsor of the Sierra Club's charitable environmental programs, all of which help educate, empower, and embolden people to protect and improve the natural and human environment.
- Make a donation today to support the International Rescue Committee in their work helping refugee families in the United States and around the world to survive and rebuild their lives.
- Donate to the ACLU to help safeguard the legal rights (and battles) of refugees and immigrants from around the world.
- Use your online prowess (and opinions) to help Amnesty International spread the word on current humanitarian issues, many of which include immigrants seeking asylum right here in the United States.
- Help Refugees collects goods year-round to then donate to in-need immigrants and refugees from all corners of the globe.