The other day, as I hurriedly rushed from one errand to another, a favorite tune popped up on the radio: Give A Little Bit by Supertramp. Supertramp always transports me back to my youth. However, this recent sing-along took on a bit of a different meaning as I thought about the organizations whose work I admire and support. And, wouldn’t you know it, tomorrow–Saturday, September 5–is the International Day of Charity. Yep, I love it when the Universe speaks to me!
It comes as little surprise that Americans are a very charitable bunch. According to The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, over 95% of all U.S. households give to charity each year. In 2014, this equated to $358.38 billion (that’s billion with a “b”!) in support of charitable events and organizations.
Not to overtax you with statistics (cuz you know Kimba really doesn’t do math), but I was surprised to also discover that according to The National Center for Charitable Statistics there are over 1.5 million tax-exempt organizations in the U.S. That’s a lot of good work going on out there. It’s overwhelming to consider how many of these organizations deserve our love, time, and financial support. However, today I’ve narrowed down my favorites to my top five list.
Kimba’s Top Five Non-Profit Organizations & Do-Gooders
Nyumbani. This amazing organization has worked tirelessly since 1992 to build sustainable communities for children infected with and affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. My late father-in-law George Dalferes was one of Nyumbani’s first board members and my sister-in-law carries on the tradition today, currently serving on the U.S. board of directors. Link here to find out more about this wonderful charity and the children they save every day: http://www.nyumbani.org/how-you-can-help
Project On Government Oversight (POGO). Founded in 1981, POGO is a non-partisan organization that focuses its energies to “investigate waste, fraud, and abuse throughout the federal government.” Full disclosure: it’s also led by my bestie, the amazing Danielle Brian. To get a real feel for the fantastic work of this group–which accepts NO government support of any kind for its work–watch this video from the talented comedian Lewis Black.
THON. I’ve written about this organization previously, but I never miss an opportunity to crow about my love for THON. Each February something magical happens at Penn State. Thousands of students stay awake and on their feet for 46 hours straight; all united in working toward the sole purpose of supporting the fight against pediatric cancer. The THON website notes that back in 1973 the first dance marathon raised $2,000. Over 40 years later, THON now encompasses over 15,000 student volunteers, 700 dancers, and has raised more than $114 million, benefiting The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. Watching my son Jimmy dance in 2013 is an experience I’ll carry in my heart forever.
The Smith Mountain Arts Council (SMAC). Established in 1989, SMAC is a non-profit which serves a large geographical area around Smith Mountain Lake, VA (my home away from home). The service area includes but is not limited to Franklin, Pittsylvania and Bedford counties. SMAC “fosters participation in and enjoyment of the visual, performing and literary arts.” Partially funded by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, SMAC each year offers up to two $2,000 two-year college scholarships for seniors demonstrating talent in the performing, visual or literary arts.
The Food Pantry at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church. Each Thursday morning an enthusiastic group of volunteers, including my mom, takes on the herculean task of distributing food to hundreds of families in need of support and assistance. There are many in West Palm Beach who would go without, were it not for the tireless efforts of these wonderful souls. Food pantries are dependent upon food donations from the community as well as financial support to help defray the costs of food purchases. No one in our country should ever go to bed hungry. To learn more about supporting this food pantry link here: http://www.myhnj.org/foodpantry
In summary, I can think of no better way to leave you today than to end with the wisdom of the great Joey Tribbiani and his infamous “giving and receiving” speech for Monica and Chandler’s wedding:
How about you: do you have a favorite charitable organization? Please share information in the comments section.