Ask Amy

Dear Read­ers: Many of us are now in the re­cov­ery mode of the hol­i­day sea­son — after at­tend­ing and host­ing hol­i­day events, gorg­ing on gin­ger­bread men and eggnog

The Denver Post - - FEATURES - by Amy Dick­in­son Send ques­tions via e-mail to askamy@tri­ or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tri­bune, TT500, 435 N. Michi­gan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

and let­ting the glit­ter of the sea­son re­lease us from De­cem­ber’s gloom. In the spirit of the sea­son, I present my an­nual round-up of char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tions read­ers should con­sider sup­port­ing.

Your do­na­tion may go far­ther at a small lo­cal non­profit than at a large char­ity. All con­tri­bu­tions count. So do non-mone­tary acts of kind­ness, such as shov­el­ing a neigh­bor’s walk, bring­ing a casse­role to a griev­ing per­son, or sim­ply abid­ing with some­one in need through friend­ship.

This is a sub­jec­tive list, based on my own in­ter­ests. Your own giv­ing should re­flect your in­ter­ests and val­ues. Most (but not all) of the or­ga­ni­za­tions listed be­low have a top (four-star) rat­ing on Char­i­ty­nav­i­ga­, which is an ex­cel­lent source for re­search­ing a char­ity. Di­rect Re­lief (di­rec­tre­ This char­ity, which has a sto­ried his­tory, op­er­ates in all 50 states and 70 coun­tries, de­liv­er­ing medicine, staffing med­i­cal clin­ics and pro­vid­ing med­i­cal safety nets to un­der­served pop­u­la­tions. Founded in Cal­i­for­nia after World War II by an im­mi­grant who did well in Amer­ica, the mis­sion was spread by other im­mi­grants who took up the cause. This or­ga­ni­za­tion re­ceives a stel­lar rat­ing and is listed as Char­ity Nav­i­ga­tor’s num­ber one char­ity value this year. Op­er­a­tions range from serv­ing in Syria to as­sist­ing in the re­cent wild­fires that rav­aged Ten­nessee. Doc­tors Without Bor­ders (Doc­tor­swith­out­bor­ Many of us have be­come aware of the work of Doc­tors Without Bor­ders/Medecins Sans Fron­tieres (MSF), due to the group’s pres­ence in places of high con­flict. The or­ga­ni­za­tion is cur­rently op­er­at­ing a hos­pi­tal in Aleppo, Syria, de­liv­er­ing health care to civil­ians, de­spite un­remit­ting vi­o­lence. DWB-USA pro­vides aid in nearly 60 coun­tries to peo­ple whose sur­vival is threat­ened by vi­o­lence, ne­glect or catas­tro­phe, pri­mar­ily due to armed con­flict, epi­demics, nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, mal­nu­tri­tion or ex­clu­sion from health care. In­ter­na­tional Res­cue Com­mit­tee (res­ Founded in 1933 at the re­quest of Al­bert Ein­stein, the IRC de­liv­ers life­sav­ing care to peo­ple flee­ing con­flict and nat­u­ral dis­as­ter. The IRC worked to re­set­tle refugees in Europe dis­lo­cated from con­flict in World War II, and their work con­tin­ues in the heart­break­ing cri­sis cur­rently un­fold­ing in Syria, through­out Africa and around the world.

Po­laris (po­lar­ispro­ I first be­came aware of the work of Po­laris through a fam­ily mem­ber’s ad­vo­cacy. Hu­man traf­fick­ing is mod­ern slav­ery, and vic­tims are of­ten vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple who are co­erced, dis­lo­cated and then forced into slav­ery — of­ten in the sex trade. Vic­tims of traf­fick­ing are some­times in our midst, at bus stops, mo­tels and truck stops. Law en­force­ment, clerks and long-haul truck­ers are now be­ing trained in ways to spot and res­cue these in­di­vid­u­als. Vic­tims can text BeFree (233733) and be con­nected with an ad­vo­cate. Save the Chil­dren (Savethechil­ When dis­as­ter strikes around the world, Save the Chil­dren is there with food, med­i­cal care and ed­u­ca­tion and re­mains to help com­mu­ni­ties re­build through long-term re­cov­ery pro­grams. The web­site has a cool gift cat­a­log where pur­chases help fund the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s wor­thy mis­sion. Donors Choose ( If, like me, you are in awe of and want to sup­port the hard work teach­ers do, find a project to fund on the Donors Choose web­site. Teach­ers post de­tailed and in­spir­ing ap­peals to pur­chase art sup­plies, mu­si­cal in­stru­ments or in­no­va­tive pro­grams and ex­pe­ri­ences, ac­com­pa­nied by photos of their stu­dents. Homes for Our Troops (Hfo­ One of my fa­vorite or­ga­ni­za­tions, this group raises money and then turns the funds into con­crete ac­tion, build­ing a new home or adapt­ing an ex­ist­ing home for hand­i­capped ac­ces­si­bil­ity. The fin­ished home is then given to a dis­abled vet­eran. All ser­vices and ma­te­ri­als are do­nated.

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