They say charity begins at home and since we’re all at home, we can think about what we’d like the world to look like in the future and how to make it happen. One way is by giving to a charity that carries out our vision. We can help our immediate neighbors and spread compassion to our neighbors across the world. We don’t have to donate millions like Bezos or Gates. Any amount is a help to a non-profit in these challenging times.
On the Big Island we’ve all heard of The Food Basket. They’ve provided food for people in need for many years. If your idea is to alleviate hunger, and if you shop at KTA stores, you’ve noticed that they always have a collection point (a shopping basket) for non-perishable foods. It’s an easy way to donate “in kind” items. Just drop a can or a box in the basket. In these days of Covid-19, feeding people is a priority for many charities. To learn more about this one, or to send money, go to: www.hawaiifoodbasket.org and click on “donate”.
Another local organization, Boys And Girls Club of the Big island, has had to stop their kids’ programs, following government guidelines. They expect to be able to run their summer programs, if the end of lockdown makes it possible. Meanwhile, they’ve been preparing 780 free dinners each day at the Hilo club and another 355 in Kona, which they deliver to the Salvation Army, and other outlets. Their website is www.bgcbi.org and you can donate via Paypal. If you don’t have Paypal, you can send a check to Big Island Boys and Girls Club at 100 Kamakahonu St., Hilo 96720.
Going wider, there’s a chef who was just on the cover of Time Magazine. He is Chef Jose Andres, and his rapidly expanding charity is World Central Kitchen. His non-profit, according to the Time Magazine article, “sets up field kitchens to feed thousands of people fresh, nourishing, often hot meals as soon as possible at the scene of a hurricane, earthquake, tornado or flood.” World Central Kitchen prepared nearly 4 million meals for residents of Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria, as well as Puna residents who were displaced during the 2018 Kilauea eruption. They’ve deployed to wildfires in California, an earthquake in Albania, a volcanic eruption in Guatemala, a hurricane in the Bahamas, to Australia affected by bushfires, and to Tennessee after tornadoes in Nashville. They’ve been delivering food to cruise ships unable to discharge their passengers because of Covid-19. Chef Andres invites local chefs and many, many volunteers, to serve his humanitarian cause. To learn more, and volunteer or donate, go to www.wck.org.
And then there’s Heifer International, which teaches people to feed themselves and their neighbors. Started after WWII, they sent heifers to Europe where herds had been decimated by war. Today, they send everything from chickens, goats, llamas, water buffalo, to bees and trees, with training, worldwide, to people who need their anti-poverty services most. With your help, of course. Their website is heifer.org and you’ll be amazed at the possibilities.
This next charity has nothing to do with food, but in a way it does. It’s www.RIPMedicalDebt.org. If you’ve ever been in debt from a hospital stay where your insurance company didn’t pay the whole amount and you couldn’t pay the balance, you know what it’s like to be hounded by a debt collector. This organization is run by people who were once debt collectors and who know how to buy medical debt at pennies on the dollar. Only they don’t try to collect the amount owing. Instead, they solicit pennies on the dollar donations from church groups and individuals and forgive the debt. One hundred dollars buys $10,000 worth of debt. Which can be spread among a number of people. No more hounding by debt collectors. This worthwhile charity allows people to relax and enjoy their dinners. And to buy them. Since inception, they’ve abolished more than a billion dollars worth of medical debt! They recently appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, the April issue.
If you’d like to be dazzled by the reach of a non-profit organization, go to Charity Navigator at www.charitynavigator.org. There, you’ll find fascinating ways to contribute to the welfare of the planet, from the Himalayan Cataract Project preventing blindness, to www.water.org getting clean water and good sanitation for communities. These two and more are sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation. Charity Navigator rates charities for their strengths and weaknesses so you can choose to send your money to a place where it will be well spent.
In this time of no hugs and no handshakes, making a charitable contribution gives a quiet kind of happiness. Sort of a hug and a handshake from the universe. And you can do it to fulfill your own mission from the comfort of your home.
~Lynne Farr is the author of Off The Grid Without A Paddle, Off The
Grid and Over The Hill, and Off The Grid: What’s Cookin’? Three
humorous memoirs about life off grid on the Big Island.