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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Helping Others This Holiday Season

In addition to thinking about our families and friends this holiday season, here are some ways to help others in the community - local and worldwide.

This is an easy and fun project to get the kids involved with - it's Holiday Mail for the Heroes - through December 7. Send cards of appreciation to members of the military and they'll be forwarded on to our troops. If your child's Cub Scout den/pack or Girl Scout troop is looking for a project in the next week, this one is perfect.

There are lots of "adopt a military family" programs where you can provide gifts and/or meals to support the families of troops serving. I don't have experience with any of them personally, but here are a few websites to get you started.

That seems to be a theme lately, so I wanted to include a few clean water donation resources.

Passports for Purpose is doing a fundraiser through December 11, and all funds will be donated to to build wells in Haiti. Each $10 donation buys you raffle ticket to get great prizes like trips, hotel stays, electronics, gift certificates and more. Frisco Kids is hosting the Garmin Nuvi GPS prize - with free lifetime traffic and map updates from The 80+ prizes are truly fabulous, some once-in-a-lifetime vacations. All donations are tax-deductible.

Water for People is another worthy organization providing clean water know-how in developing countries. Read more about them in an article I wrote for A Garden Life, a free iPad magazine that has great articles.

Whether you host a coat drive or just donate to it, the One Warm Coat organization provides the resources to get coats to the people who need them. Look up where coat drives are in your area.

I really like the Heifer organization, where you can donate an animal (or a share of an animal) to help those trying to improve themselves in other countries. Those families pass it on, when the animal gives birth - they give the babies to other families and teach them how to raise them. Heifer has ways to involve the kids in the process. Sarah the Goat Giving Experience lets you put in the child's name into the computer, and then the kids can watch a personalized animated video. Heifer started Heifer at Hanukkah this year to encourage donations as part of the holiday experience. And if your kids want to start a Read to Feed program (not necessarily at Hanukkah) here's how.

The Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund is an organization I've contributed to . The fund provides one-time donations to families in need for specific purposes. If you read the SF Chronicle, you've probably seen stories they write about some of the recipients. Each year the fund helps more than 5,000 Bay Area families encountering an unexpected crisis. It's one of the largest private sources of emergency financial assistance in the area. The fund is celebrating its 26th anniversary this year.

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