This is the time of year to get together with family and friends, and for those of us with means, to celebrate and indulge. But for too many people living and working around us, celebrating and being merry are far from their thoughts. Add the ongoing political and economic uncertainty, this time of year can be a harsh reminder of what it feels like to lose everything – or struggle to get by day-to-day in the first place. For some of us, the holiday season can be triggering, period.
There are countless nonprofits, however, that are doing what they can to make the holidays a time of hope and relief from what is often the ugly reality of the world. We cannot name them all, obviously, but these are just a few that have been on our radar – and note that these groups span a wide range of issues, from supporting families to environmental stewardship to supporting the formerly incarcerated. Side note: these organizations can always benefit from individual and corporate support.
Launched by José Andrés after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, this global group of chefs have time and time again responded quickly to natural (or should we say, climate change-induced) disasters, from Puerto Rico to California. World Central Kitchen (WCK) and Andrés have been relentless ensuring citizens under duress could at least have one hot meal a day, even under the most trying circumstances. WCK also runs a wide range of public health, educational and social enterprise programs. Andrés' latest focus: offering federal workers affected by the U.S. government’s shutdown a free sandwich at any of his D.C. restaurants.
There are countless ways in which foster children fall through the cracks in the U.S. social welfare system – and are often vulnerable in ways that don’t even cross our minds. On that point, The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption stands out as the only public nonprofit charity in the United States that is focused exclusively on foster care adoption. This organization distributes funds and provides training to adoption agencies in the U.S. and Canada. Learn about the organization’s most recent work and awareness campaigns here.
The discrepancies rampant in the U.S. criminal justice system are well documented, and despite the hype over the recent passage of a criminal justice reform bill, it’s important to remember that this legislation is a steppingstone – not a complete overhaul. Mission: Launch is one nonprofit that helps reintegrate those who have been rehabilitated back into society, while advocating for families who have been affected by mass incarceration. To learn more, read this profile of Mission Launch and other organizations that carry on similar missions.
Yes, there are countless organizations that do a fantastic job advocating for the environment. The Conservation Fund, however, has a compelling market-based approach to preserving land. From reforesting areas in Kansas to partnering with Apple in order to expand forest acreage in Maine, The Conservation Fund says it has helped preserve almost 8 million acres of land in all 50 U.S. states. There’s a chance the holiday season hike or cross-country ski excursion you’ve taken was made possible due to this group’s work.
Evidence often suggests we are spending more money here in the U.S. to target homelessness here in the U.S., but the problem seems to be getting worse, not better. This challenge appears to be intractable in part because the solutions needed vary by region – a program that may shine in one community may not work in another. To that end, one organization striving to make a difference is the National Alliance to End Homeless. By working at the federal level, conducting ongoing research and partnering with communities to turn innovative ideas into successful programs, The Alliance has proven to be an effective conduit to finding the best possible answers for America’s homelessness crisis.
Everyone has their pain and struggles, and no matter how severe or impossible it may seem, music can always soothe the soul. Of course, there are many cultural organizations, museums and historical societies that could use support, so yes, full disclosure: one of us here at TriplePundit is on the Delta Blues Museum’s board (and will not know about this article until it's live). If you love blues music, well . . . Clarksdale, MS and the surrounding Delta region are known as “the land where the blues began.” In addition to the museum itself, this organization runs events that bring the world’s foremost blues musicians together.
Image credit: World Central Kitchen
Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He's based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's worked an lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.