Our Favorite Ways to Give Back

It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.

By Chanel Dror

We’ve been talking a lot about  taking time to give back to our communities in what is otherwise a time of year that’s focused on overindulgence. For us, it is a great break from the holiday madness, and it feels comforting to know we may inspire a couple of our readers to get out there and do some good.

But, we couldn’t help but wonder: how do we carry those acts of charity into the new year with us? Since local toy drives and food drives aren’t as widely publicized as they are in November and December, we think it’s important to keep each other in check — this moving speech by the amazing Gina Rodriguez is what first got me thinking about the subject, so I wanted to take a moment to poll our team and find out what they’re doing to be charitable all year round. Click through to get a few of our favorite non-profits on your radar, and in the comments section, please share links to the projects you support. Whether it’s a Kickstarter, a Peace Corps project or an after school program, your comment might be just what the initiative needed to meet their goal today.

Every Mother Counts

“Since I became a mother myself, causes that support women and children are especially dear to my heart. Founded by Christy Turlington, Every Mother Counts is dedicated to making childbirth safe for mothers around the world. The statistics are heartbreaking — over 300,000 women die every year as a result of complications with pregnancy & childbirth, and each of these women leave behind an average of 4 orphans. I love that 100% of online donations go to support their programs, which include providing transportation for women to reach healthcare providers, training midwives to deal with emergency situations, and providing supplies for the care of pregnant women.” — Camille

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Community First! Village in Austin, Texas

“My boyfriend and I recently toured the grounds of this ambitious project that will offer the chronically homeless affordable, sustainable housing in Central Texas. We left feeling inspired by a project that will tangibly help people right here in our own community. There are so many ways to get involved (from gardening to actually building houses) there’s really something for everyone. Find out more about volunteer opportunities on the community website.” — Jennifer Rose Smith

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Let Girls Learn

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about Let Girls Learn, which is the United States government initiative ensuring adolescent girls get the education they deserve. Michelle Obama spoke about this at SXSW (along with Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott, Sophia Bush and Diane Warren) and I was so moved. Good education is something I’ve taken for granted and hearing that over 62 million girls — half of them adolescents — are not in school, is heartbreaking. What I love most about this initiative is that they’re not just asking for money, they’re asking for action — support in raising awareness and help in developing educational programs. I hope to be able to play some part in Let Girls Learn moving forward.” – Kelly Krause

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Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team in Training

“When I was in college, I knew three young people diagnosed with various forms of Lymphoma, including my boyfriend at the time. Witnessing people my age — healthy, active and with their entire lives ahead of them — being impacted by blood cancer, inspired me to take action. Team in Training is the flagship fundraising program for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, offering endurance sports training programs in exchange for fundraising efforts to support blood cancer research. Their volunteer coaches provide in-depth training and nutrition guidance for everything from marathons and triathlons, to cycling and hiking, as well as a team of like-minded people that become your support group in every step of your training journey. In return, fundraisers are tasked with raising money that will go on to help change the course of peoples’ lives. In the past 5 years, I’ve run three half marathons with the help of TNT, and more, importantly, raised over $10,000 as a result. Sign up to save lives here!” — Katie Wahlman

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Green Corn Project

“Green Corn Project takes unused land and turns it into garden beds for elementary schools, community centers, and elderly, low-income or disabled community members in underserved areas of Austin. They give Austinites access to nutritious, affordable, organic, fresh vegetables in their own backyards, and provides the education and help to maintain the garden beds after they’ve been installed. It’s the perfect way to give my own neighbors a helping hand, get out and get active on a Saturday morning, and it’s been a crash course in gardening for me and completely changed how I care for my own plants. If you’d like to help people with limited access to healthy food grow their own vegetables in ways that are affordable and sustainable, you can donate or register to volunteer here.” — Cristina Cleveland

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ORGANIZE & Conscious Commerce

“Did you know that 95% of Americans support organ donation, but only 40% are registered donors? ORGANIZE is working to close that gap completely and solve the organ donation crisis, and their recent collaboration with Conscious Commerce is something we’re proud to get behind. The graphic vintage tees are as stylish as they are altruistic, making it even more fun to spread the word.” — Chanel Dror

Building Homes with Habitat for Humanity

“I’ve enjoyed volunteering with many different organizations over the past few years, helping anywhere from food banks to animal shelters, but working with Habitat for Humanity this past summer in Minneapolis was by far one of the greatest experiences in giving back to the community for me. While being one of the more labor intensive volunteer opportunities I’ve done, getting to come together with other people in your community to build a house for a family is truly such a rewarding experience. It’s such an amazing thing to see the tangible effect of your hard work come together and give a family in need a place they can call home. I’m really excited to take part in more projects with H4H later this year!” — Suruchi Avasthi

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“PBS is a cause dear to my heart because it involves so many of the things I’m passionate about: art, history, music, and film. Did you know that 82% of Americans with televisions watch PBS? And the demographic breakdown of their audience reflects the overall U.S. population — which means that this nonprofit is bringing mind expanding programming to people of all races and incomes. It’s so easy to give to PBS online, and they’ve even got a fun gift shop that benefits the cause. (Come on, you know you want this tote.)” — Jennifer Rose Smith

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