If there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s that 2017 has been quite an emotional rollercoaster. From fraught political headlines to a myriad of natural disasters, and not to mention social justice and refugee aid movements, it seems like everywhere you turn, there is a cause in need of help.
That’s why we chose to spotlight four charities that are doing a world of good right here in New York City by caring for animals, increasing literacy, helping impoverished children, and feeding hungry children. In the spirit of giving, what better way is there to teach your children how to be caring and compassionate than to give back to those less fortunate? We’ve also compiled a special list of national organizations tackling the headline-driven causes that you also may want to send some love to (and talk candidly with your children about) this season.
Literacy Partners aims to improve education, literacy, and language skills among low-income and immigrant families in America by bettering their understanding and comprehension of the English language. With in-depth literacy classes and tutoring, partnerships with Headstart so parents can attend classes after dropping their children off for school, and classes to help parents receive their high school equivalency degree, Literacy Partners has become a driving force in improving education among low-income and immigrant families in all five boroughs. We spoke with Gohar Chichian, development and communications manager, to learn more the organization’s work in NYC.
Mission: “Literacy Partners strengthens families through a two-generation approach to education. With our free classes, low-income parents in New York City develop the literacy and language skills they need to succeed in today’s world. Our research-based curriculum also incorporates child development and parenting support to help parents boost their children’s early reading, school readiness, and social-emotional growth.”
Where Donations Go: Literacy Partners maintains four programs that are funded by donations:
- English For Parents: Teaching English for Speakers of Other Language classes to parents at Headstart facilities.
- High School Equivalency: Providing HSE classes and one-on-one tutoring to help students receive their degree and move on to college.
- Books of Their Own: Building home libraries for our students’ children through the provision of age and culturally appropriate books and mentoring parents on family reading.
- English Conversation Classes: Led by volunteers in all five boroughs.
Exciting New Projects:
- “Families Like Us” video series: “We’re in the middle of developing a video series called “Families Like Us” to help immigrants to learn English and vital parenting skills. We’re excited to extend our reach and plan for this content to be available both online and in app form, to anyone in the world, anywhere, that wants to learn English, in the spring of 2018.”
- Books of Their Own expansion: “Over the past school year, we distributed 4,000 books to low-income and immigrant families! We’re excited about expanding this program over the next school year, and increasing the amount of books we provide per family.”
How Can Families Contribute Beyond Monetary Donations: “There are a variety of ways families can contribute to Literacy Partners! We rely heavily on our volunteers to help our students learn English through conversation groups, work towards their HSE degrees through tutoring, spread awareness of our programs, host a networking or outreach event, or help the Development, Communications, or Program staff with projects in the office.
We also accept book donations to our Books of Their Own program to distribute to our students and their families. We are committed to only providing high-quality, diverse, educational, and entertaining books to our families. With this in mind, we can only accept new books. We’re currently developing a holiday wish list to distribute with the books our students need for the upcoming year.” -Meghan Brown
The Humane Society of New York
The Humane Society of New York is and continues to be the epicenter of kindness and love for animals. For over 100 years they have provided high quality care for animals that are sick and homeless and it all began with the fight to protect horses against city abuse. The Society has since evolved into a free medical clinic for pets, an adoption center for cats and dogs, and even has a free spay/neuter program. The adoption center also provides quality care for pets at affordable prices. We spoke to Sandra DeFeo, the executive director, about how to take care of the city’s animal friends.
Mission: “At the Society, the quality of each animal’s life is paramount. Long before it was popular to think of animals as individuals—to consider their physical and emotional needs when taking responsibility for their care—we were doing just that.”
Where Donations Go: “Families can donate by purchasing items that we need at the Humane Society of New York by buying items that we need at the center. They can purchase any item available on our wish list on our website. Families can purchase items on Amazon such as bedding, high quality cat and dog food, cleaning supplies, pet supplies, and office supplies.”
Exciting New Projects:
- Rescue Me! Adoption and Stories From New York City: “Last year, we collaborated with famous fashion and portrait photographer Richard Phibbs and created “Rescue Me! Adoption and Stories from New York City,” a dog photo book detailing each pooch’s heart-wrenching story on its journey from abandonment and rejection to its rescue. The main goal of the book was to make people aware that rescue dogs need homes, too. Thanks to the photos, the canines found homes in the New York City area, and the book can be purchased on Amazon.”
- Cats on My Block: “We also released a picture book that teaches children about feral and stray cats and the importance of spaying and neutering cats and the reality of pet overpopulation, which is also available on Amazon.”
- Furry Friend Finder Segment on “CBS This Morning”: Families can tune into “CBS This Morning” during their Furry Friend Finder weekly segment. This segment features adorable shelter dogs from the Humane Society of New York’s adoption center that are in need of a new forever home. If any families are interested in any of the pets that are featured in the program, they can head to the Humane Society of New York and adopt the animal they seen on the show to become a new member of the family.
How Can Families Contribute Beyond Monetary Donations: “There are a variety of ways families can contribute to The Humane Society of New York! We hold an annual essay contest for grades 4-6 and a poster contest for children of all ages. Dog ambassadors are brought to nursing homes around the city so that senior citizens can pet and play with an adorable pooch to brighten their day. The Humane Society also has educational outreach programs in schools throughout the New York City area that provide kids with information about the center and its purpose. Students from different schools can even take field trips to the adoption center to learn the value of shelter animals and why everyone should consider adopting one. We also accept volunteers to come and help us out at the adoption center.” -Sara Touzard
No Kid Hungry
Millions of children in America continue to face hunger year after year. No Kid Hungry is a campaign of national anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength, which has been operating since 1984. The campaign is committed to ending childhood hunger by connecting kids in need with nutritious food. We spoke to Jill Davis, Share Our Strength’s senior vice president of corporate partnerships, about what’s going on at No Kid Hungry.
Mission: “No child should go hungry in America, but one in six kids will face hunger this year. Using proven, practical solutions, No Kid Hungry is ending childhood hunger today by ensuring that kids start the day with a nutritious breakfast, eat healthy summer meals, and families learn the skills they need to shop and cook on a budget. Working together with local organizations around the country, we generate the will and skills to help communities feed children in need every day of the year. No Kid Hungry is a campaign of national anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength.”
Where Donations Go: “No Kid Hungry’s singular focus is ending childhood hunger in America. Our work does not just feed a child today, we’re making sure children in the United States never go hungry again. Your donations help schools make breakfast a part of the school day to reach more kids facing hunger in the classroom, expand the programs serving kids meals during the summer and after the school day ends, when kids are most vulnerable to hunger, and teach families to stretch their food dollars and cook healthy meals through our nutrition education programs. Every dollar donated to No Kid Hungry helps connect kids in need to 10 meals. Since its launch, we’ve connected kids with more than 500 million meals. When you support No Kid Hungry you connect kids to healthy food, every day of the year, and transform their lives and their futures.”
Exciting New Projects: “No Kid Hungry is encouraging our network to give back this holiday season through a fun campaign called Friendsgiving for No Kid Hungry. Friendsgiving is our new platform that encourages consumers to give back during a time of abundance to kids who struggle with hunger during this holiday season. When participants register, they receive exclusive access to recipes from well-known chefs and mixologists, and hosting ideas and tips.”
How Can Families Contribute Beyond Monetary Donations: Every action, big or small, makes a difference in the fight to end child hunger in America. Find opportunities to volunteer, advocate, and spread awareness at NoKidHungry.org. –Chloe Beck
Children’s Aid Society
With countless programs designed to help and nurture children in poverty, Children’s Aid Society works to make sure our future succeeds, no matter their background. They have programs that range from academic and social learning programs that include college and career readiness and mentorship to family and community programs that include a family stabilization initiative and their Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative. Their work in the community does not stop there. They also offer health and nutrition serves from pregnancy and HIV/STD prevention services and medical and dental services to fresh food access and food justice services. We spoke to Anthony Ramos, the vice president of marketing and communications to learn about more about this local organization.
Mission: “Children’s Aid helps children in poverty to succeed and thrive. We do this by providing comprehensive supports to children and their families in targeted, high-needs New York City neighborhoods.”
Where Donations Go: “Children’s Aid donations are used to connect young people and their families with the tools they need to learn, grow, and become leaders of their own lives. Children’s Aid is a professional powerhouse of solutions for young people. We are teachers and social workers, coaches and health care providers. We know what it takes to ensure children grow up strong and healthy, and ready to thrive in school and life: excellent education and health care, social-emotional support, and strong, stable families.”
Exciting New Projects: “Children’s Aid is undergoing a rebrand, the first in 40 years. This month we premiered a new logo, a new tagline, and a shortened name. Our new website (ChildrensAidNYC.org) modernizes our public identity to keep pace with the innovations and aspirations of our work.”
How Can Families Contribute Beyond Monetary Donations: Families can contribute to Children’s Aid by volunteering, sponsoring a fundraising event, connecting us with corporate relationships, donating materials such as books, school supplies, clothing and baby products, and more. These contributions ensure there are no boundaries to young people’s aspirations, no limits to their potential. –Meghan Brown
Donations For The Nation
There are plenty of national charities doing great work in areas of need all over our country—from natural disaster relief to refugee aid to social justice, and everything in between.
Natural Disaster Relief
American Civil Liberties Union, aclu.org
Black Lives Matter, blacklivesmatter.com
Planned Parenthood, plannedparenthood.org
The Trevor Project, thetrevorproject.org
Gun Violence Prevention
The Brady Campaign, bradycampaign.org
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, csgv.org
Everytown for Gun Safety, everytown.org
Sandy Hook Promise, sandyhookpromise.org
States United To Prevent Gun Violence, ceasefireusa.org
Care For Families In Need