A few weeks back I posted a list of what I thought were five very worthy Lansing-based charities to give to this holiday season. We got good feedback from that list, but I felt we were leaving out recommendations for those givers interested in donating beyond the reach of their local community. So below, I have five more charities I think are worthy of donating to – especially if you’re interested in getting another donation in before the close of 2009.
Again, these are not in any particular order:
#1 Charity – Detroit Area Diaper Bank
I learned about the Detroit Area Diaper Bank (DADB) on Twitter and I have been nothing short of being absolutely blown away by their work. For one thing, I never really thought about diapers being a luxury until I became a dad and saw how expensive diapers are. However, diapers are not covered under any “safety net” program, such as WIC, Food Stamps, or Medicare (except in hospice). I also learned from Mary Beth Levine, Executive Director and Founder of DADB, that they have collected and distributed over 85,000 diapers since April of this year. Very impressive stuff for a strictly grassroots and family-based operation (you can see pictures on their website of Mary Beth with her husband and children delivering diapers to local partner agencies). Lots more information is on their website, including an impressive list of partner agencies and also a document about why cloth diapers are not the solution to this problem.
#2 Charity – Michigan Braille Transcribing Fund
Another amazing organization. Not only is the Michigan Braille Transcribing Fund (MBTF) the largest braille production facility in the country, but it is entirely based and run out of the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson, Michigan. That’s right, the employees of MBTF are prisoners from the facility. The facility encompasses not only a braille production center, but also a training facility in which prisoners undergo a rigorous process to become certified as braille transcribers by the Library of Congress. This program is of incredible value to not only the blind and visually impaired, but to the men working at the facility. They learn computer, communication, business and life skills essential to insuring a successful transition back to society when they leave prison. In fact, each transcriber released currently owns and operates their own braille production center in the state of Michigan. MBTF boosts a zero percent recidivism rate which results in quite a savings to taxpayers.
If you need something to tug at your heartstrings in order to open that checkbook, I defy you to visit these organization’s websites and not give to either of these great causes. Both Operation Smile and Smile Train are the world’s leading organizations performing cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries for children in need all over the globe. Both of these organizations are tireless in their efforts to change children’s lives forever with a simple inexpensive surgery unaffordable to them in their country. Cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries are only forty-five minutes long and cost around $240-$250. Again, I learned about these organizations on Twitter and also watched Smile Train’s 45 minute short documentary (Winner of 2008 Academy Award winner for Best Short Doc). These are incredible organizations doing very moving work to help children, who are often deemed monsters and cursed in their local communities.
#5 Charity – No Mas Muertes (No More Deaths)
On their website, No Mas Muertes (No More Deaths) has a tagline which reads: “Humanitarian Aid is Never a Crime.” No More Deaths is a mission, based out of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson, which works to end death and suffering of migrants trying to cross the U.S./Mexico border. Volunteers from faith communities, activists, and students, both local and elsewhere in the states,Â provide basic medical care, set up water stations, lead patrols into the desert, and also document any abuse suffered by migrants while in the custody of the Border Patrol. So far this year, 206 remains of migrants have been found in the Arizona border. A complete count of people who have died crossing the border does not exist.
Looking for a local connection? Lansing resident, Sarah McDonald volunteered at No More Deaths earlier this year and gave a stirring presentation back in October at the North Star Center.