Conservatives often discuss the importance of fiscal conservatism, including the privatization of social programs.  It is not that conservatives are against helping people – many, including myself, are simply against the government taking money from citizens and redistributing it the way they see fit.  However, in order to end handouts and start privatizing social programs, conservatives need to prove that citizens will help those in need without the government forcing them to do so.  Almost everyone can help out those in need in some way, shape, or form. If you do not have the money to help others right now, you can always donate your time.  If you do not have a lot of time to volunteer right now, you can always donate money – even $1 could mean the world to a family or child in need.  Now, we’ve all heard of the Salvation Army and Make a Wish, so I’d like to highlight some organizations that you may not have heard of.  Here are eight charities you should consider supporting (in no certain order) – with either your money or your time – this holiday season.

1) American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

AFSP is “a non-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education, and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.”  With suicide being the third leading cause of death among young people aged 15 to 24, it is more important than ever to work towards suicide awareness and prevention.  You can make a monetary donation, participate in one of their many Out of the Darkness walks located in several cities and on several college campuses, or join your local chapter.

Find out more at www.afsp.org.

2) Homes for our Troops:

If you are passionate about helping our veterans, HFOT is an amazing organization to donate to.  Their goal is “to build mortgage-free, specially adapted homes nationwide for severely injured Veterans Post-9/11, to enable them to rebuild their lives.”  With so many of our veterans homeless, HFOT is an incredibly important organization to support.  Additionally, HFOT received an “A” grade from CharityWatch, a charity watchdog group that analyzes charities’ financial reports.  To date, they have built over 190 homes for severely injured veterans nationwide, mortgage-free, and have 52 additional home projects underway.  If you’d like to help, you can make a monetary donation, become a permanent sponsor, host a fundraiser, or become a volunteer, among other options.

For more information, go to www.hfotusa.org.

3) 4 Paws for Ability:

If you love animals and helping others, 4 Paws for Ability is the charity for you! They are a nonprofit agency that places “mobility, hearing, seizure, autism, and emotional assistance dogs with children and adults with disabilities.”They specialize in placing animals with children who are turned away by other agencies.  4 Paws for Ability also trains their dogs for each specific case and works with every family to meet each child’s unique needs.  They have no eligibility requirements other than that the person requesting a dog has a physician’s statement stating that they have a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.  If you are interested in helping, you can make a monetary donation, apply to volunteer at their headquarters, or foster a puppy, among other things.

Additional information is available at www.4pawsforability.org.

4) RREAL:

Rural Renewable Energy Alliance: If you’re passionate about the environment, RREAL is a great organization to donate to. RREAL’s mission is to make solar energy accessible to communities of all income levels, and has been pioneering the use of solar energy to address fuel poverty throughout the nation.  So far, they have provided more than 400 solar energy systems to low-income households across the nation.  Currently, they are working on a new project, PV for Phebe, to help bring energy to a hospital in Africa.  If you’re interesting in helping, you can make a monetary donation or apply to volunteer.  They also do solar projects for homeowners, business owners, farmers, etc. and use the proceeds to support their assistance program for low-income families.

To learn more, visit www.rreal.org.

5) The Epilepsy Foundation:

The mission of The Epilepsy Foundation is to “stop seizures and SUDEP [the sudden and unexpected death of someone with epilepsy], find a cure, and overcome the challenges created by epilepsy through efforts including education, advocacy, and research to accelerate ideas into therapies.”  The Epilepsy Foundation is an ally for individuals and families impacted by epilepsy and seizures.  Although 1 in 26 people in the United States will develop epilepsy at some point in their lifetime, it is often an invisible disorder, leaving many uneducated on it and a stigma surrounding it.  If you’d like to help, you can make a monetary donation or contact your local chapter of the Epilepsy Foundation.  They also have many events one can volunteer at, such as their annual Seize the Day 5K that takes place in multiple cities across the country.

To learn more, go to www.epilepsy.com.

6) Volunteer at a domestic violence shelter in your community:

In the United States, an estimated 22.1% of women and 7.4% of men have been physically assaulted by a current or former romantic partner. Domestic violence shelters often do not have enough basic items such as toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, soap, etc. to support all of those utilizing their services.  You can find your nearest domestic violence shelter with a quick Google search or by going to www.domesticshelters.org.  Just $5 can help a shelter buy the basic items that those in the shelters need to live.

7) Volunteer at your local soup kitchen or homeless shelter:

The holiday season is one of the most heartbreaking times to be homeless or hungry.  Furthermore, the number of people visiting homeless shelters and soup kitchens is much higher during the holiday season due to the cold driving people indoors for shelter and out of certain jobs that help bring in money.  You can find your local food bank at www.feedingamerica.org.  To find your local homeless shelter, you can use www.shelterlistings.org or do a quick Google search.

8) Last but certainly not least, one of my favorite ways to give back during the holiday season is to adopt a family that cannot afford Christmas presents for their children.  The holiday season can be a heartbreaking time for low-income parents who cannot afford a Christmas for their children, especially if their children still believe in Santa Clause.  Adopting a family is one of the most personal and rewarding ways to give back to your community, and a quick search on Google or Facebook can inform you of adopt-a-family programs in your area.

Politics aside, volunteering is one of the most rewarding and humbling experiences.  There is no better way to help others than to donate your time or money to those who need it.  If you are reading this on a computer or smart phone right now, I have a feeling you can spare a few dollars or an hour of your time to help those in need this holiday season.  Count your blessings and use your good fortune to help those without any.  Happy holidays, everybody.

 
Sara S
CABINET MEMBER