Come on Y’All, It’s Time to Get Nice

It’s up to us to take back the holidays from the marketers and make it about something bigger. The whole idea of the holiday is to give. While most of us are pretty good in giving gifts to friends and family, don’t forget that this is also a great time to give to charitable organizations.

Last year, I set a personal goal to give 1% of my salary to charity. (If you are looking for a New Year’s Resolution, I highly recommend it, providing you can afford to live without 1% of your salary). I’m not Bill Gates so I simply gave little bits to a lot of different organizations throughout the year. It surprised me that it was so easy and so much fun to decide what organizations to support.

I kept a list so I’d remember who I’d given to and how close I was to my 1% goal. Here are some of the organizations that I choose to support and why.


Heifer International – You know the phrase “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime”? Heifer aims to put this into practice.

You can give a needy family in a developing country a flock of geese that will provide eggs for the family to eat or sell. Or you can give a goat (or a goat “share”). A goat thrives on dry land where crops don’t grow, and a goat’s milk can provide needed protein to hungry people. Needless to say, this is probably the most fun shopping possible because you are buying farm animals online.

Chez Panisse Foundation – I love the restaurant’s philosophy of celebrating food that is produced locally with care and eaten seasonally, and their foundation brings the same food-focus to schools, supporting better school lunch programs and edible schoolyards.

Food Runners – In SF, when restaurants have extra food, they can call Food Runners to get their food delivered to those in need.


InsideOUT Writers – Read True Notebooks and see if you don’t end up donating to this writing program for those in Juvenile Hall.

826Valencia – 826 connects students who need help with writing with actual writers. Some volunteers even go into local schools to help out. 826 began in San Francisco but there are now 826 programs in many major cities. They all operate out of incredible storefronts. 826 San Francisco is a pirate supply store, for example, while 826NYC is a superhero supply store.

Human Rights

Valentino Achak Deng Foundation – After reading What is the What, I was ready to move Valentino, a Sudan survivor, into my apartment. Instead, I found he had a foundation which contributes funds to war-torn communities in Southern Sudan.


Midnight Law Collective – An amazing group who provides free legal assistance for those who are, say wrongly arrested for simply standing up for what they believe in.


DonorsChoose – This is one of the best ideas: teachers post what they need for their classrooms and donors can choose (hence the name) what they want to support. You can choose fund as much or as little of a teacher’s request. I tend to support reading and food-related curriculum.

I received a package a week or so ago from the teacher of a 4th grade class in a very poor school in Richmond, CA. I had helped buy copies of Sadako & the Thousand Paper Cranes for her classroom through Donors Choose. In return, the teacher sent me photos of the class with the book and handwritten letters from the students thanking me and telling me how they liked the book. This was SO rewarding.


2 Responses to “Come on Y’All, It’s Time to Get Nice”

  1. A Time for Gifts & Giving « Whole Hog Says:

    […] year, I gave to many of the same organizations that I’d supported in 2007, but there are others that also deserve your consideration, such […]

  2. Help to Make the Season Bright « Whole Hog Says:

    […] are many worthy causes out there (you can see what I’ve supported in prior years here and here) and I hope you have one or two that you believe […]

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