This week my students finished up their final presentations in which they had to deliver a persuasive speech (using the handy dandy Monroe's Motivated Sequence) urging their listeners to take action on some issue. Even though I love listening to almost all of the speeches they deliver over the course of the semester (except the group speech, which is painfully long and unexciting), their final speech is one my favorites. This is when students get to shine, when they get to put a whole semester's worth of knowledge to use and convince their classmates to do something. While not all the students all passionate about their topics, many choose issues that they really care about. They speak about suicide prevention, exercise, the environment, and music education. They speak about the Voice of the Martyrs, Global Expeditions, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Save the Children, and Operation Christmas Child.
As one of the students said, "You can't choose every charity; you can't fix every problem; you can't donate all your money and time. But you can do something. You can make a difference." I am sad to see these two groups of students leave me...they have been good classes.
And they have reminded me to share some of my favorite organizations and links that are doing their best to make a difference in the world. For me, my passion is global hunger. This is a topic I have been reading and praying about for many months, and even though I am just one person who cannot solve the major ills of the world, I am still one person. I can make a difference.
- Free Rice: I shared this link before, as have others all over the Internet. This is a fun and easy way for you to help make a difference in fighting global hunger. Even Jason's students work on Free Rice during their spare time in class. As you learn new words, Free Rice takes their ad revenue and donates money to the UN's World Food Programme, which in turn gives rice to those in need. Make Free Rice a habit, and FYI: there are 29,000 grains of rice in a one-pound bag.
- Food for the Hungry: works in 26 developing countries, providing disaster and emergency relief. They have a powerful interactive story in which you can experience what it is like to make life-and-death decisions in order to survive.
- ECHO: their mission is to "network with community leaders in developing countries to seek hunger solutions for families growing food under difficult solutions." Based in Ft. Myers, Florida, ECHO is one organization I know for certain is making a difference because I had the opportunity to visit the ECHO farm in 2004 when my sister was working there. The work they are doing is amazing. Consider using their Christmas Catalog to give a gift that sustains life.
- Heifer International: give a sustainable gift to a family that will help sustain them. Maybe a flock of chicks. Or a goat. One year for Christmas we gave my grandma the gift of choosing which livestock she'd like to send to a needy family. For someone who has everything, it was definitely more rewarding than a basket of lotion from Bath & Body Works.
- Global Giving: connects you to pre-screened grassroots causes and helps you donate directly to those groups. Want to provide education for AIDS orphans in India? How about supporting a girls' soccer team in Rwanda? Or giving American students access to music education? Global Giving will hook you up!
- Bread for the World: an excellent resource in identifying what you can do to help fight social injustices as well as the global food crisis. They even have suggestions for things you can do right from your home.
- The Hunger Site: similar to FreeRice in that ad revenue goes to fight world hunger.
- End Hunger Fast: a wonderful resource (developed by Heather, one of my favorite bloggers) that gives excellent ideas on what you can do to end hunger.
- Compassion International: a child sponsorship program that strives to provide food, education, and social opportunities for impoverished children. When Sydney was born we knew that we wanted to sponsor a child, but waited until she was three years old so that we could find a child who was about the same age. We are now the proud sponsors of Gertrude from Tanzania.
And speaking of Compassion Int'l, I want to thank those of you who Commented for a Cause! Thank you Amy, Anachronism, Jen, Kim, Simona, Paige, Becca, Ally, Karen, Gretchen, Kristan, Kimberly, Danielle, Rachelle, Goslyn, Alida, Jess, Becca Banana, Megan, Rach and Liv, Kim, Andrea, Aleece, Leanne, Erin, Margaret, Lee Anderson, Kimberly, Leslie, Inkling, Suzanne, CCAP, Nancy, Katy Lewis, Amy, Molly, Stout, Katrina, Donnelle, Devon, Bananas, Sarah, Heather, Ariadne, Diana, Dad, Jeri, Alison, Kari, Lynette, and Sophie. What a blessing.
Of course, there are innumerable organizations that are making a difference in this world, but these are some of the ones that I hold near and dear to my heart. Nearly all the organizations are four-star charities according to Charity Navigator (an online resource that determines a charity's effectiveness and fiscal responsibility), so that's good to know.
I know this post has a lot of links and maybe you don't have time to look through them all, but I really encourage you to see what some of these organizations are doing. You never know what change you are capable of accomplishing unless you try. We can make a difference.
How about you? What issues speak to your heart?