Gift Guide: 9 Outstanding Charities

It’s a phrase we all could adhere to more: It is better to give than to receive.

As we enter the holiday season, many of us do so knowing that not only will we give to others, we will also receive. We’re very fortunate.

But there are thousands of people and organizations around the world who give year-round, and expect nothing in return. Here are nine such commendable groups, all of which would love have your help in their mission:

Ray of Hope Foundation

Founded in 1997 by NBA star and current Back9Network board member, Ray Allen, the Ray of Hope Foundation provides sports and community-based activities for children with a goal of leading the kids to understand their full potential. Allen hosts annual golf tournaments to raise funds for the foundation, and earlier this year donated a sixth computer lab to a Connecticut elementary school.

The First Tee

A youth organization that aims to build character, promote life skills, teach leadership and endorse healthy choices through golf, The First Tee estimates that it has served 7.6 million participants in 1997. Every state in the U.S. has a First Tee program.

Red Cross

The U.S. and nearly every other country in the world is a part of Red Cross, the largest humanitarian network in the world. The services it provides are innumerable, but it focuses on disaster relief, supporting U.S. military families, blood donations, health/safety education, and international services. The Red Cross was immediately on the scene when tornadoes ripped through the Midwest a couple weeks ago.

International Rescue Committee

No part of the world is immune to disaster, and when it strikes, the International Rescue Committee is there. It was founded by Albert Einstein, and provides care and assistance to people forced to leave their homes due to disaster or war. The group gets people on the path to rebuild their lives, and right now is focusing intently on helping victims from Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Blood:Water Mission

This is a grassroots organization whose goal is to put an end to the AIDS and water crises in Africa. A $50 donation provides one year of safe water for 50 Africans. A $100 donation gives two people access to proper sanitation. And a $5000 donation is good for one year of HIV testing and counseling for 1,000 people.

Nothing But Nets

Malaria is one of the leading causes of death among African children, and one of the easiest ways to help is through Nothing But Nets. For $10, you can supply an insecticide-treated bed net to a needy family. The organization was founded in 2006 and made famous when Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly challenged his massive readership to donate $10 each. He now has NBA superstar, and avid golfer, Stephen Curry on his team.

Samaritan’s Purse – Operation Christmas Child

Samaritan’s Purse is an international relief organization, but it kicks into extra gear around this time of year with its Operation Christmas Child endeavor. Thousands of people fill shoeboxes with toys, school supplies and other small gifts, then drop them off at a specified location, from which they’re eventually transported and given to children in more than 100 countries.

Homes For Our Troops

Is there a better way to honor our injured veterans than to give them a new home, for free? That’s exactly what Homes For Our Troops does. The organization raises money, obtains building materials, hires professional labor, and recruits volunteers to build a home “that provides maximum freedom of movement and the ability to live more independently.”

Feeding America

Feeding America, with the help of food banks all across the country, gives meals to nearly 40 million low-income people every year.  Those folks are unable to enjoy the holiday feasts so many take for granted, but you can help. For a limited time, every dollar donated to help provide Thanksgiving dinner for a family will be matched by Ameriprise Financial, and as a result, will deliver twice as many Thanksgiving meals this year.

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