Ask Amy: This year, express gratitude through generosity

Dear Readers: As the global pandemic waxes, wanes, and threatens to wax again, we seem to be experiencing something of a hybrid existence as we try to serve our own health needs, while trying also to respect and protect those around us.

As I offer my annual “charity roundup,” I’d like to remind readers that while charity truly does begin at home, it need not necessarily be confined to home.

Those who can afford to share their material wealth should give abundantly, donating locally to the library, after-school programs, hospice center, arts organizations, historical society, and animal shelter.

Acts of kindness and compassion are always worth their weight in gold: Shoveling a walk for a neighbor, writing a letter to an elder, and volunteering at the local food bank are all ways to express your generosity.

All of the organizations I recommend are highly rated (unless noted) by Charity Navigator, a trusted source. Always do your own research before donating, and choose organizations that align with your own values.

Supporting Education:

Donors Choose: Prospective donors can peruse through and choose a specific classroom project to fund — from donating art supplies and musical instruments to classroom technology and gym equipment. Donorschoose.org.

American Indian College Fund: The mission is simple — to send Native American students to college. Every year, around 4,000 scholarships are granted to motivated students. Collegefund.org.

Since its founding in Tennessee by Dolly Parton in 1995, the Imagination Library has grown into an international literacy movement. From birth to kindergarten, registered children are sent a book each month, and families are encouraged to read together. Imaginationlibrary.com (not rated by Charity Navigator).

Serving Service members:

The needs of veterans are urgent and wide-ranging. These organizations serve veterans.

Travis Mills Foundation: Serves post-9/11 veterans who have been injured in active duty or as a result of their service. These service members and their families are brought to a retreat center in Maine for an adaptive, barrier-free opportunity to regroup, relax, and connect with others. Travismillsfoundation.org.

Homes for Our Troops: This inspiring group based in Massachusetts donates labor and material to build adaptive homes for injured veterans. Hfotusa.org.

K9s For Warriors: Determined to end veteran suicide, K9s For Warriors provides highly-trained service dogs to military veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury and/or military sexual trauma. In a beautiful symmetry, service dogs are rescued from shelters, and then humans and dogs rescue each other. K9sforwarriors.org

Crisis in Ukraine:

The conflict in Ukraine has caused the fastest and largest displacement of people in Europe since World War II.

UNICEF was founded in the aftermath of WWII through the United Nations to serve children displaced by conflict. UNICEF works in 190 countries, and is on the ground in Ukraine.

Donors can direct their money to a variety of lifesaving missions worldwide. Unicefusa.org.

Direct Relief: Direct Relief’s total cash aid for Ukraine and Ukrainians has reached almost $30 million. This aid goes directly to local medical and mental health service organizations in Ukraine and bolsters their donated supply of material aid of medical supplies and services. Directrelief.org.

Other groups offering life-changing relief are Doctors Without Borders and International Rescue Committee.

“WASH” (water, sanitation, hygiene services): Safe drinking water is necessary for human and animal health and well-being.

Water Mission is a Christian-based charity founded in South Carolina by Molly and George Greene, who were inspired to use their particular skill (building water treatment systems) to benefit those in dire need. Now operating in 57 countries, the group builds water plants and trains local people to operate and maintain them — bringing safe drinking water to an estimated 7 million people. Watermission.org.

Feeding People:

The act of offering food is a beautiful mission of connection. These groups feed the hungry.

Meals on Wheels: Offering nutrition delivered to the door, this organization has been a literal lifeline for elders during the pandemic. Donate or sign up to volunteer through mealsonwheelsamerica.org.

World Central Kitchen: Founded by chef Jose Andres, World Central Kitchen mobilizes local chefs to deliver food and hot meals to first responders and displaced people around the world. Their motto: “Food is a universal human right.” Wck.org.

Reproductive rights:

Since its founding over a century ago, Planned Parenthood has provided reproductive health care, education, and abortion services. Because of the overturning of Roe v. Wade this year, access to abortion and other reproductive services and health care has been under threat.

Interested donors can give directly to a clinic serving an underserved community — through a search on the organization’s website: Plannedparenthood.org.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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