I've been meaning to do a post about my favorite charities for a long time now, so I was excited when I saw that it was this week's topic for Show Us Your Life at Kelly's Korner. I've been thinking about charity and "giving back" a lot recently.
Ever since I was a little girl I've always been very aware that there were people (and animals) who needed our help. My first experience with a charity came at the young age of four. While my mom was talking on the phone I started watching a documentary about sea otters and before I knew it, they were showing the cute little creatures being clubbed to death and all sorts of other things. I cried and cried and when I saw the number to help save them flashing across the screen, I tried to call them. My mom put an end to that and I was SO mad at her! I still remember how sad I was and how helpless I felt. A year later, after watching one of those Save the Children commercials, I called the number to sponsor a child. When the operator asked how old I was, I responded "five years old." I was not successful in my attempt. (Or my second try a week later!)
Basically, that lengthy exposition was meant to explain that giving to charities has always been something very important me. And while I was always trying to give away my parents money when I was younger, it wasn't until I got to college that I became an active donor to the causes near and dear to me. I minored in African Studies and I was really convicted to start giving in any way I could. As luck would have it, I became a Kappa Kappa Gamma my sophomore year and our philanthropy was UNICEF. We did all kinds of things to raise money and I loved knowing that our donations were being put to such good use. I also got the benefit of learning the best ways to help, how to watch for unscrupulous and wasteful spending of money, and just how great of a need for our help that there was.
I am an avid supporter of UNICEF. Their mission is to save lives by "ensuring that all children have access to basic education and by focusing on children marginalized by poverty, HIV/AIDS, conflict and discrimination." They do this by providing families with clean water and sanitation, vaccination against childhood illness, and protecting children against malaria. UNICEF fights starvation by providing nutritional food rather than just food to fill their stomachs, protecting children from abuse and giving them an education. They're not only concerned about today, but also the future of these of these kids- the ultimate goal is break the self-perpetuating cycle of poverty; and I think that's pretty great! Charity Navigator gives them a 4-Star ranking, which they've had for the last five years. They spend just a little less than 10% on administration costs and over 90% of their donations are used directly in their life-saving programs.
My heart is on my sleeve where my Africa is concerned and I'm always interested in helping in any way that I can. So when I began reading about a group of bloggers going to Kenya on behalf of Compassion International, I was intrigued. As I read some of their posts and stared at their pictures, I could feel myself wanting to sponsor a child so badly. Then I saw it was going to cost $38 a month and there was no way I could afford that. I kept going back to the same blog This Is Reverb, and I couldn't get his words or images out of my head. My inner voice was telling me that this was something I needed to do, something I had to do. So where was this extra $38 a month going to come from?
I was trying to think of ways I could make the extra money and I hadn't come up with anything promising. While I was going through my email, my BlogHer weekly newsletter popped up into my inbox. And that's when I had my "Ah, Ha" moment.
Up until yesterday there was only one BlogHer ad on here. Awhile ago I had thought about adding a second one, but I realized I'd have to have to have three ads and I didn't want three adds, so I stuck with my one. But more ads means more revenue and that's what I was looking for. I did some quick calculations about how much more revenue my traffic would generate if I ran a few more ads and I found out that if I added those two, I would be able to afford sponsoring a child. So that's what I did! I set it up so that all revenue from my new ads will go directly into my Compassion account. I am now the proud sponsor of a little girl named Ega! She's from Kenya, is five years old, and lives in an area devastated by HIV/AIDS. She'd been on the waiting list for more than 6 months, which is a very long time, and was deemed "high priority." I knew she was the one I was meant to sponsor.
Since this is my first time doing anything with Compassion, I don't think it's right for me to say "go sponsor one of their children!" But I do think you should have a look at the blog I mentioned earlier so you can really get the right perspective. But I did some research and Charity Navigator awarded it with four stars and only 8% of their donations are used on administrative costs.
I think one of the reasons I most excited about this is because it's something Spencer and I can eventually do together. I want her to understand the importance of helping others who are less fortunate. I think this is a really great way for her to get involved and when she's a little older she'll be able to write and email Ega!
Another great charity that I support is Bead for Life. Spencer's MiMi told me about it and she gave me two of their beautiful bracelets. Ugandan women turn colorful recycled paper into beautiful beads, The beaders and tailors are primarily impoverished women who want to make a better life for themselves. They make gorgeous handcrafted paper beads from recycled paper and turn them into necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. Because the beaders use recycled, colorful paper, the beads help prevent environmental degradation. "What was trash becomes beauty, money, food, and hope." You can help by having a "Bead Party" or shopping at their store. They'll even ship you everything you need to host a party at no cost to you- it's free. And they make such beautiful jewelry!
These bracelets are only $5 a piece.
"To whom much is given, much is expected" and Spencer and I have been given so much. If I can leave this world a better place than when I entered it, I will hopefully have held up my end of that bargain.
More Show You How Live Posts
Other Charities That I Support
The Alzheimer's Association
Fight SMA & The Gwendolyn Strong Foundation