Giving season should be year round, and it should extend beyond your backyard and even your country year round, but this year, it’s more important than ever. All those struggles that existed pre-Covid, they’re still there, tenfold even. I wanted to share some of the organizations that are on my mind and heart this year, and I encourage you to do some research as well! As a reminder, helping out is not limited to monetary donations. You can also donate your time, supplies, or even simply spread the word!
Empowerment Plan – I happened to be watching a football game when a break for Detroit based Empowerment Plan interrupted the game (I was meant to see this, I mean football? Really?). If you’re familiar with Empowerment Plan at all, you may know them as the organization that made the sleeping bag coat. Yes, this coat (often made from upcycled Patagonia fabric, so sustainable, hi!) actually converts into a sleeping bag and has been distributed to homeless people in need in all 50 states, 11 provinces and territories, and 20 other countries. Can you believe that?! But wait, there’s more. It wasn’t until founder Veronica Scott was approached by a homeless woman who wanted a job and not a coat, that her vision for Empowerment Plan doubled in size. They created a two year employment program that has served as a permanent stepping stone out of poverty. The work week is 60% coat production and 40% supportive services, like providing resources for housing, childcare, transportation, education, and more. Most individuals in the program leave shelters within 4-6 weeks and no one has returned to homelessness once hired. The program also helps to build the skills and experience needed to move on from Empowerment Plan into longterm career paths, breaking the cycle of homelessness. Empowerment Plan’s employment program currently serves the Detroit area, but aspires to help other cities and countries in the future. Not local to Detroit? No problem, you can make a donation that helps provide a warm sleeping bag coat to someone in need, wherever they may be. Learn more about getting involved here.
Heart to Heart International – (from their site) Heart to Heart International improves healthcare access in the U.S. and around the world. We achieve this mission by distributing resources, conducting training, engaging volunteers and responding to disasters. We are passionate about creating a healthier world. We vigorously mobilize as many volunteers, partners and donors as possible to make healthcare more accessible for all people. We will work relentlessly until everyone has access to a healthy life.
In addition to Heart to Heart’s well known mission, they are also leading in Covid-19 relief efforts. In the U.S., HHI is distributing hygiene kits for those in vulnerable populations. They have also provided PPE and hygiene supplies to clinics, hospitals, and first responders. As you know, demand for PPE continues to outpace supply, so the efforts of Heart to Heart are tremendously crucial to our frontline healthcare workers and those they care for. There are so many ways to help, not just monetary donations! You can also make and donate cloth masks, and even write thank you letters to healthcare workers. Learn more here!
Mid-Ohio Foodbank – Food insecurity is a harsh reality, and unfortunately, it often affects children and seniors most. Due to the pandemic, 2020 has been an even more trying year for hungry children, as some are provided their most nutritious or only daily meal at school. With virtual learning ramping up all over the country, the work of your local food bank is more important than ever. The Mid-Ohio foodbank is working to provide nearly 140,000 meals a day to people in central and eastern Ohio. They’re even kicking things up a notch with “food is health” strategies that help to educate individuals on accessing and preparing healthier meals, and over half of the food Mid-Ohio Foodbank distributes is fresh, a huge win! Learn more about how you can help here, and keep in mind that 12/16 (that’s this Wednesday) is double your donation day. That’s right, if you make a monetary donation to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, it will be doubled by their generous partners and will make twice the impact!
Don’t live in central Ohio? No worries! You can still help your community; head to Feeding America to find your local food bank!
Columbus Humane– Even our furry pals could use some love this holiday season, and year round! (from their site) Our approach to advancing animal welfare is based on the belief that innovation should be constant. And that moving forward with thought-leading programs that enrich, fulfill and, yes, save lives is more than a goal. It’s a given.
Whether you want to adopt, foster, volunteer, or donate, helping out animals in your local community is so fulfilling. Columbus Humane has about 250 animals in their care at all times, and they are providing them stress-reducing and stimulating environments, and more importantly, love. If you’re local to Columbus, learn ways to help out here. If you’re not local, but have a heart for helping animals, do some online research to find out how to get involved in your neck of the woods!
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – (from their site) The mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay.
As always, I’ve saved the organization closest to my heart for last. Cancer is an ugly, awful, reality and cancer patients are more vulnerable and isolated than ever due to the pandemic. I truly love St. Jude’s mission – at its core, St. Jude provides lifesaving treatments to children battling cancer, raising the childhood cancer survival rate over 60% since they opened in 1962. Also, families never receive a bill from St. Jude, not for treatment, not for travel, not even for housing or food. Any donation helps, but St. Jude makes monthly donating super easy when you become a Partner in Hope.
These are just some of the awesome organizations on my heart this year. If you’re unsure about the use of your dollars or the legitimacy of charities you’re interested in, there are tons of resources on the web to learn about non-profit and relief organizations. A little research never hurt anyone!
xoxo leigh ann
P.S. My awesome cover photo today (and most of them, really) was taken by my dad @kenny_107 on instagram, and be sure to keep up with Vlogmas on Crystal’s channel. Her daily holiday videos have given me many laughs and lots of joy!