I grew up in relative poverty. Relative, because it’s only poverty here in the US, not compared to the places in the world where every day is a struggle to subsist, to have shelter, to have all the basic necessities of life. I grew up on a farm, so we had plenty of food from our huge garden, and we gleaned neighbors’ fields for animal feed and helped my dad cut neighbors’ dead trees down for firewood to heat the house. Poverty for us just meant free lunches at school and not ever having the latest album or style or being able to afford anything we didn’t go out and earn the money for ourselves. It never meant that we didn’t have a place to sleep, or food to eat, or running water.
But I feel a personal connection to the programs below, programs that are doing good in this world even when so much seems to be going wrong. Here are a few places that you can be a part of that, in as small or large a way as you wish.
My friend Brandon Sanderson, who is writing the last book of the Wheel of Time series, is offering the chance to get your name in the book. He is auctioning off the privilege as a benefit for Heifer International, a wonderful organization that assists people in developing countries with sustainable help–a cow, for example (hence the "heifer" in Heifer Intl.). Links and more information on the charity auction and other fun stuff, like getting to be a part of the Last Battle, can be found at
or at TarValon.net.
Also, like I said, I’ve found a lot of great things on Twitter, and one of them is that actor and educator LeVar Burton twitters! I love him as much for Reading Rainbow and his advocacy for literacy as I ever did for Geordie LaForge (which is muchly). He’s the source where I heard of this next charity–or rather, challenge: the Small Things Challenge, which is sponsored by Intel and benefits Kiva Loans, a microfinance organization that loans small amounts to people in similar areas that Heifer serves. Those microloans can buy a sheep, materials for a textile business, or any number of things that will help jumpstart the micro-economy, thereby hopefully having a ripple effect on the greater economy. These loans are paid back–but even if they weren’t, as little as a few dollars can make such a difference. Save the Children is another option to donate through.
Note that on the Small Things site, every time you visit you can click on "donate 5 cents" and Intel will donate another five cents. It’s not much, but the idea is that through small things, great things come to pass.
They’ve got a great video, too–check it out:
Things are tight for everyone–don’t I know it! Sometimes I wonder just how I’m going to pay the rent and the electricity in the same month, because when you’re just starting out as a freelancer, things can be tight. But even if I can’t afford to give now, I can save $5 from my next check and not have hot chocolate for a few days (yikes! but I can do it :D).