7 Worthwhile Causes to Support This Year
Looking to volunteer your time and talents or donate to a new charity as you work to become an even better human? We talked with Pamela Schein Murphy, the force behind curation site The Select 7, to score a list of the seven top causes she’s encouraging people to get involved with this year. “I’ve always believed wholeheartedly in the importance of giving back,” she says. “It’s now more important than ever, because the only way we can create any kind of change in the world is to manifest it.”
1. Joyful Heart Foundation: This cause, which was created to transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse and support survivors’ healing, was inspired by Mariska Hargitay’s work playing Detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Hargitay, who made the documentary film I Am Evidence (on which Schein Murphy was an associate producer) has said the experience opened her eyes to issues around sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse.
How to Get Involved:The Joyful Heart Foundation is a national organization with hubs of service in New York, Los Angeles, and Honolulu. Involvement opportunities range from making a cash donation to fundraising, serving as an advocate by contacting state officials or Congress, and volunteering in person on behalf of The Joyful Heart Foundation. If you’re short on time and money but have some social media savvy, consider lending a hand as a digital advocate; opportunities to spread the word include sharing blog posts, articles, and social posts.
2. Moms Demand Action: Schein Murphy proudly supports Moms Demand Action, a grassroots movement centered on gun control in America. “One of my guests, Sarah Wynter, introduced me to this cause. Right now, there are more than 350 million guns in circulation in the United States — approximately 113 guns for every 100 people. And 93 Americans are killed by guns every day,” she says.
How to Get Involved: Moms Demand Action welcomes donations, which go to the Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund. They also welcome new members and host events where you can connect with like-minded women to talk about ways to take action in your local community.
3. Cookies for Kids Cancer: This cause is proof that doing huge things with small resources and a big heart is totally possible. When two-year-old son Liam Witt was diagnosed with cancer, his parents, Gretchen and Larry Witt were surprised at the lack of effective treatments for children. Gretchen decided to take matters into her own hands and kitchen, and with the help of 250 volunteers, baked and sold 96,000 cookies and raised $400,000 for research.
How to Get Involved: “What I love about this organization is that it’s an amazing one for kids to get involved with. It’s accessible and meaningful, and who can’t get behind a good bake sale?” Schein Murphy asks. Donate, host, or find a fundraiser on the website, or order cookies from the cause for your next party or event — each box supports research by providing seven annual research grants to leading pediatric cancer centers.
4. ACLU: The ACLU, or American Civil Liberties Union, works to ensure that all humans are protected and defended. Some of the organization’s noteworthy accomplishments include fighting for reproductive rights, marriage rights, and challenging the 2017 Muslim ban. The organization’s mission: “From immigration to the LGBT community to women’s right and the rights of any of our minority groups, the ACLU works tirelessly in a way that is crucial to our existence.”
How to Get Involved: You can join the ACLU with a one-time or recurring donation. The organization also has an action-focused page, where you can add your name to petitions, send messages to the Senate directly from the site, and more.
5. Share Our Strength: Share Our Strength’s “No Kid Hungry Campaign” is working to end childhood hunger in America by ensuring all kids have access to healthy food all of the time. “This cause gives kids good breakfasts at school and food all year long. This is an organization very near to our hearts because it makes a huge impact in the lives of all of our children every day,” Schein Murphy says.
6. Planned Parenthood: “I almost feel like I don’t even have to explain myself with this one,” Schein Murphy says. “Women’s rights are human rights, and Planned Parenthood is a vital organization that ensures that all women everywhere have access to sexual education, medical care, and family planning.” She’s right: Over the past 100 years, Planned Parenthood opened America’s first birth control clinic, launched a national sex education program, and has continued to fight for reproductive rights and basic health care, among other life-changing offerings.
How to Get Involved: There are a number of ways to support Planned Parenthood, from donating to becoming vocal on a local level or social media. Contact your local Planned Parenthood for in-person volunteer opportunities.
7. City Harvest: Schein Murphy reminds us that nearly 20 percent of people in New York City live under the poverty line. “City Harvest’s mission is to help feed 1.2 million people who face hunger each year,” she explained about the last cause on her list. “By rescuing more than 150,000 pounds of food from restaurants, hotels, grocers, and farmers markets every day, City Harvest also provides food to 500 community programs. The cause runs great programs to teach people living under the poverty line how to make healthy meals, and they run incredible mobile markets in these underserved areas so that community members can ‘shop’ for fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s truly an incredible organization making a real dent in the hunger issue in New York.”
How to get involved: Live in New York City? City Harvest welcomes individual volunteers who can teach nutrition, interact with local farmers, pack food, and lend a hand at mobile markets. Group volunteer opportunities are also aplenty, which could be a great fit for a team bonding activity for you and your colleagues or friends. If you’re not local or can’t help in person, this cause also accepts donations.
Which causes are near and dear to your heart? Share them with us on Twitter @BritandCo.
(Photo via Getty)