They say the true meaning of Christmas lies in the joy of giving. It’s a time of the year to reflect upon our own good fortunes and help our fellow humans. Ask yourself, is it better to give an expensive gift to your privileged friends and family, or to give to those who don’t have anything?
People rightly open their hearts and their wallets during Christmas, helping those who are less fortunate than them. A $50 gift for your friend isn’t going to mean as much to him as a $50 gift box for a child who will otherwise go without toys.
We understand that you may not be able to volunteer time or effort this season. But you’re under-valuing how far a dollar can go. Donations are what keep charitable organizations running.
Whether you want to see exactly who you help, or you want to help in a larger cause, an internet donation can make it happen. Here are five charities where you can make a difference by just paying a few bucks online.
1. Operation Christmas Child (Web): Customize a Gift Box for a Kid
Samaritan’s Purse, a global non-profit organization, set up one of the coolest Christmas charities. Every year, they invite people to grab an old shoebox, stuff it with toys, and drop it off at their office. The box is then sent to a kid who would otherwise go gift-less on December 25.
The collection week for boxes is over, but you can still send a shoebox through an online initiative. At Shoebox World, you can prepare a gift box for a boy or a girl, choose their age, and pick appropriate gifts from an array of items. Write out a note when you’re done. This box can be tracked all the way till the recipient opens it.
It’s a donation of 18 British pounds, or roughly $22 USD, per box. You’re free to send more than one. It’s one of the best Christmas gift charities for needy families we’ve seen.
2. World Vision (Web): Help Cold and Hungry Children
While you’re warming up by the fireplace, there’s a kid out there shivering in the cold winter night. While you enjoy a hot chocolate and gleefully watch the snow, that kid is holding his stomach because he hasn’t eaten anything today. Don’t be blind to your own privileges.
World Vision exclusively helps children in need of basic necessities, or those who could use something to cheer them up. It’s also among the reputed child sponsorship charities in the world. From food and warm clothes to toys and sturdy boots, World Vision’s international chapter will ensure your Christmas donation reaches the right children with the right help they need.
The gifts can be $60, $120, $180, $300, or any custom amount you want. And if you’re feeling generous this Christmas, you might want to sponsor a child for $39 per month.
3. Child’s Play (Web): Help Children’s Hospitals Directly
Child’s Play is one of the best ways games can help charities. It was founded by the creators of the popular Penny Arcade comic strip. Its objective is to cheer up children in hospitals with the joy of video games, or help these children’s hospitals directly.
What you’ll love about Child’s Play is the array of options you have. You can make a direct donation via PayPal, which will add to their bank. You can also buy Child’s Play gift cards or t-shirts for the holiday season from their online store.
But the best part is how you can reach hospitals directly. Child’s Play has set up the children’s hospitals in their network with Amazon wish lists. Use the map on the site to find a hospital you want to donate to. Click to see its Amazon wish list, and you’ll see something that the hospital desperately needs. It’s direct help, no middleman.
4. Pay Away the Layaway (Web): Pay Off K-Mart and Walmart Loans
During the holiday season, K-Mart, Walmart, and some of the other popular retailers in the U.S. offer “layaways”. A layaway is an installment-based way to purchase an item. This system is often used by low-income families to buy gifts during the holidays. Why not help them out?
Layaway loans usually won’t burn a large hole in the pockets of a middle-class family member. Think about it; these layaways are largely used by those who can’t get credit cards because of their credit rating, or have exhausted other resources. Now, you could just go to your local K-Mart, Walmart, Toys-R-Us, Babies-R-Us, or other retailers and pay off someone’s layaway. Or otherwise, you can pool in with other individuals across the globe to “pay away the layaway”.
Pay Away The Layaway is a better idea since it lets you dictate how much you want to donate, and you know it will still add up to someone’s layaway loan. Plus, it’s one of the easiest ways to gift to a charity in this holiday season.
5. Charity Navigator (Web): Find a Charity That You Believe In
While all the above four are excellent ways to give back to the community, they might not necessarily fit your beliefs. If you’re an animal lover, you might want to help strays during this holiday season. If senior citizens are close to your heart, then a retirement home is what you should look for. How do you find the right charity for you? Charity Navigator can help you donate to the right charitable cause online.
The portal is a one-stop information hub of everything you need to know about any charity. You can browse organizations by topic or category. New charities are featured prominently. You can also browse the donation ticker to see what people are contributing towards.
The “top ten lists” is also a good place to start. For example, if you have trust issues with charities, then “charities with perfect scores” should help you find a reliable cause. Charity Navigator’s thorough research is the peace of mind you want to ensure your donations are going to the right place.
Did We Miss Any?
Are there any other Christmas charities that you can help with a simple online donation? We would love to know of more helpful causes, so drop a line in the comments if you have donated to some organization.