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12/14/2003 Archived Entry: "Charity for the holidays"

CHARITY FOR THE HOLIDAYS. The other day I wrote about Military Mascots, the program that helps U.S. soldiers feed and give medical care to dogs they adopt while stationed overseas. That got me thinking about other little-known good causes.

In the spirit of the season, I hope every visitor to this site will stop right now and make a donation to some charitable group that accepts NO government funding. Thank them both for what they do AND for not doing it with stolen money.

I've composed a small list of charities for starters. Some are "official" 501(c)(3) (tax deductable) organizations. Some have refused even that minimal connection to government. Most are local, not national. Some are religious, some secular. Given my biases, a lot of them help animals, as well as people. (Some do both at once.) But all are doing something useful. And with the exceptions noted, they don't take your money against your will in the name of doing good.

Step 13 -- A "tough-love" program in Denver to get street winos and junkies (they don't call them "the homeless") to accept responsibility for their lives, get jobs, and become independent. Started by a former bum who's under no illusions about the games addicts play to feed their habits.

Disabled Businesspersons Association -- A San Diego group helping disabled people to be entrepreneurs. Among other things, they sponsor ChallengedAmerica, a serious ocean sailing program for handicapped people. (The DBA works with government in some cases to help its clients, but its own funding is private.)

Harbor Association of Volunteers for Animals -- Caring for homeless and abused animals in an economically struggling corner of Washington state.

St Anthony's Dining Room (no web site) 45 Jones Street, San Francisco, CA, Phone: (415) 241-2600 -- Famous for its holiday meals for the poor.

Foundation for an Independent Tomorrow (no web site) 2069 East Sahara Avenue, Las Vegas, NV 89104, Phone: (702) 362-8544 -- Helps people (primarily women) get off welfare and into decent jobs.

Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary -- A large New York sanctuary that often takes in animals (both pets and farm animals) rejected by other shelters. Founded by Sara Whalen, a former non-animal-lover whose story, "Just an Old Golden Retriever" is as moving a real-life tale as you'd ever want to read.

National Relief Charities -- Helping American Indians in the northern plains and southwest build self-sufficient communities. (A factoid from their Web site: Did you know that 80 percent of the budget of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs goest to maintain ... the Bureau of Indian Affairs?)

Guide Dogs of America -- One of several charities that match blind people with dogs to help increase their mobility and self-reliance. And here's a whole list of programs in which prisoners are training service dogs for the disabled. Despite their locations, most of the programs are developed without state funds. Everybody wins -- the animals who are rescued from shelters, the prisoners who learn something about humanity, and the disabled people whose lives are made better through the presence of a well-trained and loving companion.

Do you know a free-enterprise charity in your area?

Happy holidays.

Posted by Claire @ 04:14 PM CST

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