Dust off the hol­i­day glit­ter, and give

Orlando Sentinel - - PUZZLES & ADVICE -

Dear Read­ers: Many of us are now in the re­cov­ery mode of the hol­i­day sea­son after gorg­ing on gin­ger­bread and eggnog and let­ting the glit­ter of the sea­son re­lease us from December’s gloom. And so I present my an­nual roundup of char­i­ta­ble groups that read­ers should con­sider sup­port­ing.

Your do­na­tion may go fur­ther at a small lo­cal non­profit than at a large char­ity. All con­tri­bu­tions count. So do non-mon­e­tary acts of kind­ness.

This is a sub­jec­tive list, based on my in­ter­ests. Your giving should re­flect your in­ter­ests and val­ues. Most listed below have a top (four-star) rat­ing on Char­i­ty­nav­i­ga­tor. org — an ex­cel­lent source for re­search­ing a non­profit.

The mis­sion and the work of Cra­dles to Crayons (cradlestoc­rayons. org) is sim­ple: to pro­vide the phys­i­cal ne­ces­si­ties of child­hood. From cloth­ing, to equip­ment and sup­plies, this group takes in do­na­tions, of­fers com­mu­nity vol­un­teer ex­pe­ri­ences, and dis­trib­utes goods from its network of ware­houses.

This hero-en­ter­tainer is pro­vid­ing over 1 mil­lion books each month to children through her Imag­i­na­tion Li­brary (imag­i­na­tion­li­brary.com). She is a force for good in the world (dol­ly­wood­foun­da­tion.org).

Their motto is “School sup­plies. Chang­ing lives,” and they do­nate school sup­plies na­tion­ally to schools (and kids) in need. Children who do not have the tools can­not do the work.

This group starts as­sist­ing stu­dents in ninth grade, mak­ing a 10year com­mit­ment to pro­vide ser­vices and schol­ar­ship money to stu­dents who oth­er­wise would not be able to at­tend col­lege. Be­ing the first mem­ber of a fam­ily to at­tend col­lege will change a fam­ily’s fu­ture.

Last year I was hon­ored as a “dis­tin­guished Amer­i­can” by this schol­ar­ship group. Not bad for a farm kid who grew up in a sin­gle-par­ent house­hold. I would not have made it to, or through, col­lege with­out schol­ar­ship help, and it is the honor of my life­time to give back through this group that pro­vides schol­ar­ships to thou­sands of stu­dents each year.

This is the coun­try’s largest char­ity sup­port­ing Na­tive ac­cess to higher ed­u­ca­tion. I am a sup­porter.

This group op­er­ates in 50 states and 70 coun­tries, de­liv­er­ing medicine, staffing clin­ics and pro­vid­ing med­i­cal safety nets to un­der­served pop­u­la­tions. Founded in Cal­i­for­nia after World War II by an im­mi­grant, the mis­sion was spread by other im­mi­grants.

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 its work con­tin­ues world­wide.

I 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 be­ing trained to spot and res­cue these in­di­vid­u­als. Vic­tims can text BeFree (233733) and be con­nected with an ad­vo­cate.

Founder and chef Jose An­dres and his teams of cooks bring their mo­bile kitchens with food sup­plies and water ev­ery­where, serv­ing storm- or dis­as­ter-rav­aged pop­u­la­tions and first re­spon­ders.

This group raises money and turns the funds into ac­tion — build­ing a new home or adapt­ing an ex­ist­ing home for ac­ces­si­bil­ity. The fin­ished home is given to a dis­abled vet­eran. All ser­vices and ma­te­ri­als are do­nated.

Mills is a re­tired sol­dier who be­came a quadru­ple am­putee as the re­sult of an im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vice in Afghanista­n. He guides other war­riors and their fam­i­lies to­ward re­cal­i­bra­tion at a sto­ry­book prop­erty in north­ern Maine. Their work is truly in­spir­ing.

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