Occupy the Holidays
Mulled wine, fruitcake, carols and latkes are all very well. (Wait, latkes? I'll take some of those!) But the best holiday tradition is helping others through our annual end-of-year donations list. Whip out your checkbook and read on:
1. Women Living Under Muslim Laws. This international solidarity network serves women affected by sexist and theocratic interpretations of Islam. Whether it's unequal family laws, the criminalization of women's sexuality, the marginalization of women's voices or the infamous Saudi driving ban, WLUML is on the case. Women were heroes in the Arab Spring—don't let fundamentalists take away their human rights now. Mail checks to Women Living Under Muslim Laws, PO Box 28455, London N19 5JT, United Kingdom (wluml.org).
2. Afghan Women's Fund. For many years the savvy and selfless Afghan expatriate Fahima Vorgetts has been helping women in her home country overcome the triple whammy of poverty, sexism and war. Her latest projects include wells, schools, literacy classes and women's shuras—councils where women come together for mutual support and income-generating projects (canning, jam, jewelry, crafts, carpets). AWF is an all-volunteer organization. Mail checks to AWF c/o Jean Athey, PO Box 1563, Olney, MD 20830 (afghanwomensfund.org).
3. Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation. This online group helps out social service agencies, schools and clinics in one of the poorest places in the United States. Participate at your own rate—recent drives include backpacks, warm jackets and classroom supplies for a K-12 school; books for the Oglala Lakota College Library; clothes and more for homeless veterans; and money for propane to help foster-care families fend off the subzero South Dakota winter. Small donations really add up here, so don't be shy if money's tight (friendsofpineridgereservation.org).
4. National Network of Abortion Funds. Furious about upcoming insurance restrictions on abortion coverage and HHS head Kathleen Sebelius overruling the FDA on Plan B? NNAF is the umbrella for more than 100 local funds that raise money tirelessly and ingeniously to help low-income girls and women arrange and pay for their abortion care. A few hundred dollars can make all the difference—for some women even bus fare makes the difference. Check out fundabortionnow.org to find a fund near you, or give to NNAF at National Network of Abortion Funds, PO Box 170280, Boston, MA 02117.
5. Hollaback! Remember when women were humorless prudes if they objected to catcalls and gropers? The young feminist group Hollaback! uses social media and tech to fight street harassment and change attitudes in cities around the world. They do it with cellphone photos and videos of harassers, demonstrations, public education (including educating cops that subway masturbation is not amusing) and lots and lots of moxie. Young people have no money, so they need yours. Hollaback!, 30 Third Ave., #200B, Brooklyn, NY 11217 (ihollaback.org).
6. Career Gear. Clothes make the man—but what happens if he needs to dress for a job interview and can't afford a suit? This nonprofit group, based in New York City but with affiliates in other cities, offers new business attire, counseling and mentoring to men who have recently been homeless, mentally ill, in prison, in foster care—Iraq War vets and recent immigrants too. Money is best, but you can also send new or nearly new appropriate clothing. Find out more at careergear.org. Mail checks to Career Gear, 120 Broadway, 36th Floor, New York, NY 10271.
7. Lambi Fund. There are something like 10,000 NGOs in Haiti, which has just got to be too many, but Lambi Fund is a good one. It's a grassroots peasants' organization working in the fertile Artibonite Valley, with a focus on sustainable agriculture and animal husbandry (pigs and goats), building community democracy and gender equality. Change in Haiti must come from the bottom up, says executive director Marie Saint Cyr. Right on. Lambi Fund of Haiti, PO Box 18955, Washington, DC 20036 (lambifund.org).
8. University Scholarships for South African Students. This brainchild of philosopher Robert Paul Wolff pays tuition for low-income students of color, especially in fields related to combating the HIV epidemic, like public health and social work. So far it has helped more than 1,200 students graduate. Help South Africa fulfill its promise by helping its young people. Make your check out to USSAS and mail it to Robert Paul Wolff, 631 Meadowmont Village Circle, Chapel Hill, NC 27517.
9. Prometheus Radio Project. This small, scrappy organization helps local progressive groups set up community radio stations. Radio Conciencia, built with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, boosted that labor organization's membership from tiny to hefty. Prometheus was key in the passage of the Local Community Radio Act, which will be handing out more than 1,000 licenses beginning in 2012. Help Prometheus promote this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get the word out—or stop complaining about the corporate media. Prometheus Radio Project, c/o Development, PO Box 42158, Philadelphia, PA 19101 (prometheusradio.org).
10. Independent bookstores. You'll be sorry when they're all gone, so help the ones near you stay in business by doing your holiday shopping there. In New York City, hurry down to the East Village, where a financially struggling St. Mark's Bookshop recently came close to shutting down. In Chicago, Women and Children First, one of the last of what used to be a thriving network of women's bookstores, warmly welcomes readers of all ages, sexes, genders and literary tastes.