Thanks and Mindful Giving

With Thanksgiving in just a couple of days, it’s time for my annual The Sin City Siren Mindful Giving List. It’s something I do every year as a counter-point to the consumer orgy of the December holidays. As we gather to give thanks for the wealth or love and friendship in our lives, it’s also good to consider what we can do to help those in need.

These are just some of the ways you can give back while indulging in the mass-consumer, gift orgy of the December holidays. While I have included lengthy lists of gift items in the past, I’m going to focus more on helping different organizations. Many groups are helping those who are being hit hardest by the economic downturn. But the groups themselves are struggling to keep up as donations are down. So it becomes an endless cycle of not-enough.

If you have any suggestions, be sure to leave ‘em in the comments to share with everyone.

[Important note: Charity Watch and Charity Navigator are great resources for checking out charitable orgs.]

**The Sin City Siren’s Favorite Causes 2010: **

  • The Shade Tree: Since 1990, the non-profit has been helping homeless and abused women and children with their shelter and programs. Their focus is on empowering their clients and building self-reliance. They have a great need for baby clothes and other items, women’s toiletries, women’s clothes and animal care/food items for their animal shelter.
  • FACT (Family and Child Treatment of Southern Nevada): The 25-year-old non-profit helps children and families heal after sexual abuse traumas. As a survivor myself, this is a cause close to my heart.
  • The Rape Crisis Center: It is brave, difficult work that the Rape Crisis Center does. It’s not a cause that gets a big following because people don’t want to think about rape. But for the survivors and their loved ones who get help there, it is a lifeline.
  • Domestic Violence: I can’t choose between either of the valley’s two great organizations that do good work on this issue: Safe Nest and SAFE House. Check out their wish-lists, donate money, donate time, donate a suitcase for the women who show up with all their worldly belongings in a garbage bag.
  • HELP of Southern Nevada: Since it was founded in 1970 by the Junior League of Las Vegas, the non-profit HELP offers assistance to homeless people and others in crisis all over the valley.
  • The Nevada Women’s Lobby: One of the best ways to help a variety of different causes! The Lobby is pro-choice, pro-equality and lobbies for the rights of Nevada’s women, children and seniors. This 20+ year-old organization works to make Nevada better, which helps people of all different populations. (Full disclosure: I’m on their advisory committee.)
  • This year for me, the bare-minimum is donating some food to local pantries. Donations are down but the number of hungry folks is way up. According to Three Square: One in eight Southern Nevadans will go hungry this holiday season. It’s time we all help the hungry in our community.
  • The Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth does some great work helping homeless teens get off the streets. Many are LGBT youth who were kicked out of their homes. They need all the help they can get.
  • It’s always a good idea to support organizations that fight for your rights. I don’t think you need me to explain why this is important. ACLU, Planned Parenthood.
  • Another great idea is to check out the Wish Lists of local orgs. Sometimes the simplest items — toothpaste, baby blankets or office furniture — can help these organizations help so many.
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