Kendra Smoot, Holidash
"Parents in Nepal who are struggling to feed their families are often convinced by dishonest traffickers to sell their daughters, claiming they will be taking the girls to the city to be trained for a good job. Instead, these children are sold to brothels -- sometimes for as little as $30.00 -- where they are virtually imprisoned and required to prostitute themselves out dozens of times a day. Maiti Nepal is a remarkable organization devoted to putting an end to the human trafficking of girls -- some as young as six years old. This organization works in several ways: It sends women into villages to help educate girls and parents in how to resist the promises of the traffickers who prey upon their innocence and desperate poverty. It helps rescue girls from unspeakable circumstances to bring them home. And it works to rehabilitate and train survivors of trafficking, many of whom have nowhere to go if they are rescued. I hope you will share my hope that the trafficking of children must be brought to a stop."
Susan Stiffelman, ParentDish
"My favorite charity in all the world is Para Los Ninos. They offer some of the most successful programs for low-income children and youth in Los Angeles. From an art-filled Charter Elementary School to life skills training for foster teens, Para Los Ninos is teaching a generation of children that they can be leaders not gang members, scholars not criminals, artists not prisoners. And it's working -- youth from Para Los Ninos go on to competitive high schools and colleges, and many have come back to become teachers and counselors at Para Los Ninos."
Kristen McGuiness, LemonDrop
"In 2005, Mitchell Gold founded Faith in America to educate people about the harm religion-based bigotry causes the LGBT community, especially gay teens. The holiday season is particularly difficult for these kids, when rejection and isolation from family and religious communities -- simply for being who they are -- has been found to lead to depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide attempts. Love, support, and acceptance -- all within our power to give -- can save them. Faith in America published a book to bring this silent epidemic to light -- CRISIS: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay In America."
Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams, ShelterPop
"Please consider sponsoring a child through Compassion International. For $38 per month, you'll provide food and clean water, medical care, educational opportunities and important life-skills training for a child in an impoverished country. Our family has been sponsoring children through this organization for the last three years and it has been an excellent way to teach our own children about poverty in other countries, how much we take for granted and how we can make a big impact in the lives of needy children through giving."
Crystal Paine, ParentDish
"My holiday wish would be for all the Christmas puppies. I wish that they have the gift of a responsible owner who recognizes that all puppies can benefit from training, regular exercise, a warm place to sleep on cold winter nights, and lots of love. I support the work of the AKC Humane Fund which, among many efforts, assists human-services organizations to help domestic abuse victims enter and stay in shelters with their pets."
Mary Burch, PawNation
"'Home for the Holidays' can mean different things to different people, and Habitat for Humanity is committed to ensuring that all families have the opportunity to say it. Having participated in several builds, I've had the opportunity to work alongside the families who are overwhelmed to be receiving and the volunteers who are graciously giving. Everyone deserves a safe place to call home, and it's been an honor to have a small part in helping a few families have that."
Kristan Cunningham, ShelterPop
"Last year I was in a car crash that flipped my vehicle on its passenger side door and slid 100 feet into a beautiful palm tree. The resulting impact shattered my front windshield and nearly severed the roof off of my car. As I climbed out of the drivers side window like a tank hatch, I realized I seemed physically ok, except for some minor scratches from the glass. After a quick paramedic check, I was deemed fit to continue on with my life and chalk up another win for my lucky nature. Just to be safe, I decided to get an MRI from my radiologist friend who said, "Your neck is fine, it's the walnut sized tumor I'm concerned with!" Three months and three opinions later I had a total thyroidectomy and because of my lucky angel, the guy that hit me in the accident, my life was saved and my cancer contained. I dropped all legal matters against him and he and I are now friends. My charity is The American Cancer Society. I was lucky, they fight the good fight everyday!"
Eric Stromer, DIYLife
"I love Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in downtown New York, a beautiful space that promotes reading and education while existing for the sole purpose of helping people in need. All of their books and merchandise are donated and all proceeds they make from salesgo to AIDS charities. I enjoy both attending and hosting events there which always bring good karma."
Susan Shapiro, LemonDrop
"Kiva is an organization which connects individuals with entrepreneurs who are, desipite sometime enormous obstacles, working to start or grow a business.The personal stories on Kiva help us talk to our children about circumstances in America as well as all over the world, and how we can be directly helpful. Kiva tracks the progress of the entrepreneurs who are being funded, so it's plain to see how contributions are having a positive effect."
Sabrina Weil, ParentDish
"Emergency and educational aid to migrant farmworkers and their families is extremely limited and often not available. The Harvest of Hope Foundation tries to fill in the gaps in services to seasonal migrant workers and their families by distributing funds to pay for gas, tires, car repairs, rent, utilities, medical services, food, clothing, funeral expenses and educational scholarships."
Tom Henderson, ParentDish
"Imagine giving birth...and never closing up again. That hole is a fistula, and there are hundreds of thousands of women suffering from them, particularly in countries where the women are so malnourished as kids that by the time they get pregnant -- usually in their teens – the baby is way too big for their pelvis. It presses so hard for so long during labor that it cuts off the blood supply down there and the tissue dies, leaving a hole. The amazingly hopeful news is that there's a relatively simple operation that can fix fistulas and allow women to return to their homes – and even bear children. Donations to the Fistula Foundation go to providing the surgery, building new hospitals and training more doctors to do the operation."
Lenore Skenazy, ParentDish