• Sweet Charity

    From The Organization That Provides Disabled Children With New Bedrooms To The Ultimate Toy Drive, Our Annual Charity Guide Is Sure To Put You In The Giving Spirit

    By New York Family

    In the spirit of the season, we’ve asked some of our favorite New Yorkers—a wide range of people who we’ve been lucky to work with during the past year—to tell us about their favorite charities. If you can, please take the time with your family to choose a charity to give back to this season. Here are some great family-related causes to support during the holiday season or any time of year.

    Alicia Harper
    Founder and Editor of mommydelicious.com

    As a former NYC public school elementary teacher, I love and wholeheartedly believe in the mission of Books For Kids, an organization aimed at promoting literacy all-around, particularly for low-income and at-risk children in the preschool years. In fulfilling its mission, Books For Kids creates libraries, donates books and works with a plethora of literacy programs for our youngest learners to develop the critical foundation and skills they need to succeed in life. It’s so imperative for children to develop early literacy skills, and Books For Kids works tirelessly to ensure this. (booksforkids.org)

    Alison Lowenstein
    Founder of brooklynbaby.com, Author of City Kid New York, City Weekends and City Baby Brooklyn

    The Family Center (TFC) helps families below the poverty line cope with parenting during terminal illness, navigate conflict and transition through loss. It offers an incredible array of services from legal, counseling, emotional support and more. Founded in 1994 by four women working at the NYC Department of Social Services who were concerned for the children of AIDS patients, the organization has evolved to help children whose parents have cancer or whose families encounter other destabilizing factors. My children and I are going to purchase toys for the drive—instead of simply donating as a family, I love the idea that my kids can choose presents for the children. It really helps them to understand that they are giving something to another child. (thefamilycenter.org)

    Carla Sullivan
    Founder of minimunchers.com

    It is very important to me to involve my children in appropriate ways to give back. Because both my husband and I were greatly affected by 9/11, we now consider ourselves patriotic and support our men and women who fight for our freedoms. This year we became involved with Operation Gratitude, an extremely financially efficient organization that collects items and assembles care packages that it then sends to the troops. We sent in most of our Halloween candy and intend to send holiday treats as well. (operationgratitude.com)

    Carley Roney
    Co-Founder of XO Group Inc. (formerly The Knot Inc.)

    Female empowerment has always been a personal passion of mine, and I’ve had the privilege to work with groups like Step Up Women’s Network, which provides career mentoring and professional networking for young ladies all the way up to emerging executives. Another particular soft spot to my heart is the Sophia Academy in my home state of Rhode Island—a private middle school for girls from low-income families—where I am an active supporter. It’s extremely important to me that young ladies are provided with the tools to succeed, and that women of all ages encourage one another. Girls rock! (suwn.org)

    Dr. Harvey Karp
    Creator of The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block books and DVDs

    I love the Environmental Working Group (EWG)! The members work hard, work smart and have been powerful champions in protecting children (and all of us) from environmental threats starting almost 20 years ago—back when “green” was just a color. As a pediatrician, I often recommend to moms and dads their regular reports on healthy products: from the safest sunscreens to the best—at least chemically—shampoos, creams, etc., which are all available on the EWG website for free. EWG is one of the nation’s most trusted environmental groups—and one of the most effective and influential ones, with over one million Americans on their mailing list. (ewg.org)

    Jesseca Stenson
    Contributor to queensmamas.com

    Once you know about Queens-based Blissful Bedrooms, you won’t soon forget this group. It is charity whose mission is to give disabled children a new room, a new community of friends and a network for them to succeed despite many obstacles. It gives a sense of relaxation and ownership to kids who really need it, by giving them their own functional and enjoyable spaces—things most of us take for granted—that they are largely confined to because of mobility issues. Blissful Bedrooms is in need of various donations to keep the charity going and also welcomes volunteers. Check out its wish list to see how you can help. (blissfulbedrooms.org)

    Jessica Shapley
    Founder/Director of momsupport.org

    Room to Grow is an exceptional organization dedicated to enriching the lives of babies born into poverty. During their one-on-one appointments with staffed social workers, parents receive developmental information, customized support and all of the baby items needed throughout the critical first three years to ensure a child’s healthy and secure start in life. Items and services reach clients directly. Offering materials and advice for hosting drives and pick-up options for donations, Room to Grow makes volunteering and donating easy for busy families who want to give to those who might not be as fortunate. (roomtogrow.org)

    Karen Connell
    Founder and Editor of achildgrowsinbrooklyn.com

    My charity of choice is the Sean Casey Animal Rescue in Brooklyn. They specialize in the rescue, rehabilitation and placement of animals including reptiles, amphibians and exotics. They either find homes for the animals or release them into habitats with licensed wildlife rehabilitators. With the economy spiraling downward, the amount of animals that have had to be given up or adopted has increased dramatically. People can’t afford the food, veterinary care or time needed to appropriately care for the animals. Shelters have seen an increase of up to 30% of animals in need in the last three years. Sean Casey is a local, caring shelter that is open every day and is a long time stalwart in the Brooklyn community. (nyanimalrescue.org)

    Katie Brown
    Lifestyle Expert, Author, and Host of “Katie Brown Workshop

    I strongly support the mission of Joyful Heart Foundation, a charity that aims to listen to, connect with and heal survivors of sexual abuse. Joyful Heart creates a community of survivors, caretakers and supporters that can inspire a dialogue to end the cycle of violence. Through powerful healing retreats, educational programs and partnerships, Joyful Heart reaches out to engage people who have often gone unheard. Shop the Joyful Heartshop this holiday season to benefit this amazing cause! (joyfulheartfoundation.org)

    Lance Somerfeld and Matt Schneider
    Co-Organizers of NYC Dads Group

    We love Baby Buggy, an organization dedicated to providing essential clothing, gear and services to families in need. In collaboration with over 50 community-based organizations, Baby Buggy distributes new and gently used essentials that pass a safety test. By making donations through proven programs like Head Start and Nurse-Family Partnership, Baby Buggy ensures that families not only receive immediately needed items—from cribs and strollers to clothing and bottles—but also that recipient parents are enrolled in programs that will help build their long-term self-sufficiency. Teams of dads from our group regularly visit Baby Buggy Headquarters to clean, sort and pack items for distribution, and last spring we partnered with Baby Buggy to organize a drive to support
    graduates of the Bronx Fatherhood Program. (babybuggy.org)

    Lara Serebrier Paul
    Creator &
    CEO of iKidNY

    I am passionate about the Harlem Children’s Zone Project (HCZ), which is dedicated to helping children and low-income families succeed. Perhaps best known for its partnership with Promise Academy Charter Schools, which boasts a remarkable impact on the educational development of low-income children, HCZ also provides programs on early childhood education, community development, family enrichment and health awareness. Under the leadership of Geoffrey Canada, HCZ uses these  programs to help break the cycle of generational poverty for the thousands of children and families HCZ serves. (hcz.org)

    Liz Gumbinner and Kristen Chase
    Publishers of Cool Mom Picks

    We’re huge proponents of those working to reduce the maternal mortality rate around the world, and one of our favorites is the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood (WRA). It’s an international coalition of like-minded organizations around the world, helmed by global patron (and former UK First Lady) Sarah Brown. And we couldn’t agree more with their premise that safe motherhood—something we take for granted in the US—is a human right. What we particularly love about the WRA is that their goals to save more mothers and babies in pregnancy and childbirth are both lofty and eminently reachable. Hooray for mothers helping mothers.(whiteribbonalliance.org)

    Liz Lange
    Designer of Liz Lange for Target and Co-Founder of

    Women—mothers—are dying by the thousands around the world because they don’t have a skilled health provider when they give birth or they can’t get a basic PAP test—things we take for granted. Jhpiego is my favorite charity because it is solving these problems in creative ways and keeping women alive. In Afghanistan, 3,000 new midwives are at work saving lives because of Jhpiego’s efforts. In more than a dozen countries, women are screened for cervical cancer today through a technique that uses vinegar. That’s Jhpiego’s brilliance: designing simple, innovative solutions that prevent the needless deaths of women and families. For someone who is a mother and a woman whose business has always centered around mothers and a cervical cancer survivor myself, Jhpiego tops my list! (jhpiego.org)

    Renee Sullivan
    Founder of babybites support groups

    With food allergies in children on the rise—affecting nearly six million children in the United States alone—FAAN (The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network) educates parents, caregivers and schools in the diagnosis, research and management of food allergies for children and adults alike. As a mom of a child with severe food allergies, I am passionate about helping all children with allergies lead healthy lives and raise awareness around the issues that surround this growing but hidden disability. (foodallergy.org)

    Sarah Chang
    Founder of thestrollerballet.com and Content Manager of gogirlfinance.com

    As the mother of a girl, I am passionate about the power of organizations for young women. As a blogger (and former social studies teacher), I can attest to how cathartic and empowering writing can be. I love Girls Write Now, because it provides mentorship and a space for creative expression for at-risk girls. (girlswritenow.org)

    Eric Messinger
    Editor of
    New York Family

    While many families know the Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM) as a place to take their kids for wonderful exhibits and classes, there is another side to the museum’s mission that’s equally impressive and worth supporting. It’s less visible to the general public, but CMOM does an extraordinary amount of community outreach, working with impoverished families to improve health practices, early learning and literacy. In fact, because CMOM is so good at connecting to parents and children, many leading poverty programs—including Head Start—like to partner with them. You would, too. (cmom.org)

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