Top 10 places to give and make change

Participants in the Jews and Muslims DC event prepare to leave the DC Jewish Community Center with food and gifts for homeless people on Christmas Day.

Participants in the Jews and Muslims DC event prepare to leave the DC Jewish Community Center with food and gifts for homeless people on Christmas Day. Photo by Rhea.

I started off Christmas Day by returning a lost wallet. Then I headed to a volunteer event at the DC Jewish Community Center, where I gave blood and joined a project of Jews and Muslims DC that distributed food, holiday cards, and toiletries to poor and homeless people. The Washington Post and local news station WJLA covered efforts that day.

Yep, it all looked pretty virtuous. But it takes more than a day of service to bring about change.

That afternoon, just outside a Metro entrance that provided some warmth, we met a man who had a job as a bike mechanic but was living in a tent because rent is so high. For the Post article, reporter Michelle Boorstein spoke to a father and his adult son who had both been struggling for years. These are ongoing and systemic problems.

Edward Johnson, Sr., says it best in Boorstein’s article:

“I’d like to be the one here giving things out to them, but now I’m the one on this side. I want to be an overcomer,” said Johnson. “I’m grateful for the thought, but it would do more to take one person in this park and say: ‘I want to help you do better, I’m going to help you do better.’ ”

Here are 10 organizations I see helping people to overcome and do better, both on an individual and systemic level. With efficient use of funds, these nonprofits bolster access to good food, health, faith, community, and overall human well being.

Please consider giving your support, either by December 31 for those much-touted tax deductions, or by volunteering time or talent as part of your 2015 resolutions.

These appear in no particular order.

Local Organizations

…where I give and participate

1. Crossroads Community Food Network

2. Hillel at Gallaudet University (Facebook Page here, and make a donation via Hillel International)

3. Jews United for Justice and their program Tikkun Leil Shabbat (scroll down to “Past Divrei Tikkun” on the right-hand side for more great organizations)

National and International Organizations

…that I support and are close to the hearts of friends and family

4. Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation

5. Planned Parenthood

6. National Alliance on Mental Illness

7. Out of the Darkness walks from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

National and International Organizations

Personal favorites I support

8. American Jewish World Service

9. The Fistula Foundation

10. Heifer International

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