CCI - Canine Companions for Independence. Brian and I spent almost two years training a labrador retriever to become a companion to the disabled. We had been married for less than a year when this opportunity came into our lives and I can honestly say that it is one of the most amazing efforts we have ever put forth. It was Extremely Difficult to raise a puppy from 8 weeks old and then give him away but I can also tell you that IT WAS WORTH IT! We still get notes and cards from the family who received our dog as a companion to their quadriplegic son. This is a great way to help kids understand giving and gratefulness and we intend to raise another dog for the organization when our kids are old enough to participate.
Suitcases For Kids - When I think about this organization I cry. That's all there is to it. These people are begging for your old, broken, new, and lightly used carrying devices of any kind. Why? Because a lot of foster kids in America don't even have a suitcase to move their clothes in when they are shuffled from one home to another. Good grief. Please donate!
The Orphan Foundation of America - is an amazing organization started by an adult foster child who has achieved success and now reaches back to help others. This organization has developed an entire support system for teenagers who are aging out of the system and have no one to help them. How much help did you or your kids need at 18? They have a very cool project where you can send a handmade red scarf in with a care package and they will make sure all their kids get a "love box" at Valentines Day. So for all my fellow knitters out there - sign up!
Certified Wildlife Rehabilitator - If you love animals and are terrified by the way our environmental destruction is ruining their world then this is for you. You can become certified to help wildlife in need. What this means is that when someone finds a baby squirrel to be nursed back to life or a deer grazing in the city because their habitat has disappeared a professional will bring this animal to you and you will know how to care for it. Requirements are different in all states and certification is updated every two years. I think people who do this are the cat's meow!
Read This to Me - This is an amazing organization that connects volunteers with people in need from everywhere in the USA. The whole thing takes place over the phone and you can do it from the ease of your own home and wearing pj's. They only ask for a few hours a week and a working phone and internet connection. This is literally the easiest volunteer work I've ever heard of.
Global Servants - This is the organization I have worked and volunteered with for many years. They run a fantastic girl's rescue home in Chiang Rai, Thailand. They offer a beautiful child sponsorship program, team trips to the home and other opportunities to be involved. They also have a book for sale called "House of Grace: A Girl's World" which is a fantastic view book centering around a day in the life of a child at our group home. Through the donation of an amazing sponsor, Sonnie Mayer, they are able to make 100% of the proceeds from the purchase of this book go back to the home. Plus it has tons of darling pics of Thai kids!!
Gardening for Urban Youth - Programs like this help urban, endangered and plain ol' city kids to understand the food they eat, our environmental responsibilities and the pleasure in living and working with purpose. These programs are available in almost every area. The one I have linked is simply a sample from one region to see what it might entail but, if your are interested, please see what is available in your home town. This is a great way to spend time with a child in need and teach a much needed skill to the next generation!
WellMOM - I truly believe in the preservation of the original family. I think this is a goal most adoptive parents share. Adoption should only be considered as a last resort in cases of life threatening poverty, mental illness, addiction, neglect or abuse. As future adoptive parents, Brian and I consider it our duty to actively campaign on the behalf of single moms, teenage parents and other families in need of support. With more help and love, less children and first parents will need to experience adoption loss and adoptive parents will have less fear of inadvertently being involved in an unethical adoption. Please consider helping in your region! This link is a sample opportunity only.
Guardian ad Litem - The opportunity to become a trained volunteer on behalf of scared children who need to attend court is truly an honor. If you get involved in a guardian ad litem program you will be helping children to understand how the court system works and why they are there. You are given the opportunity to help children find safety and support. This is a sample link but if you are interested please find out how to be a part of this program in your state.
Ronald McDonald House - Because not everyone has a healthy child. It's just that simple.
If you still aren't inspired to think of what you can do (and commit to it) then please enjoy this video!
MySpace Celebrity and Katalyst present The Presidential Pledge