Can it really be the holiday season already? With one turkey down (don’t forget latkes on the side) and one to go, it’s time to take out the checkbook and support groups that are trying to make the world a little happier and fairer all year round.
1. Texas Abortion Funds. Governor Rick Perry and the GOP-dominated State Legislature have managed to shut down a third of Texas abortion clinics, leaving women in vast swaths of the state stranded without services. Many are poor and face grueling and costly journeys to the nearest provider. If you make only one charitable gift this year, help state abortion funds finance their care. Make out your check to National Network of Abortion Funds, with “Texas” in the memo line. National Network of Abortion Funds, PO Box 170280, Boston, MA 02117; fundabortionnow.org.
2. National Center for Science Education. It is shocking that a hefty percentage of Americans think the earth is no more than 10,000 years old, evolution is “just a theory,” and global warming is a liberal hoax. The NCSE understands that we need real science in our schools, not fundamentalist claptrap. Its experts testify at school board meetings, work with groups that lobby state legislatures, help journalists analyze “controversial” issues, offer workshops for teachers and more. National Center for Science Education, 420 40th Street, Suite 2, Oakland, CA 94609; ncse.com.
3. Southern Border Communities Coalition. While politicians dither on immigration reform, the militarization of the US-Mexican border proceeds apace. With little attention from national media, border patrol agents have used violence with impunity against unarmed Mexicans and American citizens, resulting in twenty-two deaths since 2010. The SBCC brings together sixty local civil rights and humanitarian groups to demand accountability. The coalition brought its 175-panel quilt protest to Washington. Will Congress listen? Your dollars will go a long way here. SBCC, c/o Alliance San Diego, 3750 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92104; soboco.org.
4. UNHCR. I usually focus on smaller and less well-known organizations, but some disasters require an immediate, muscular, coordinated response that large organizations are best equipped to handle. If you want to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines or of the civil war in Syria, the UN agency for refugees is a very good place for your dollars; UNHCR, PO Box 97114, Washington, DC 20077; unhcr.org.
5. Afghan Women’s Fund. While huge wads of foreign aid go into the pockets of middlemen and corrupt politicians (and a government committee flirts with bringing back stoning), this aid organization, headed by brave and tireless Afghan expatriate Fahima Vorgetts, gets on with the work of running schools, literacy and income-generating projects, and women’s shuras, or councils, where community women meet to deal with their problems together. If Afghanistan has a future, it will be thanks to women’s struggle for rights and progress, because misogynist theocrats and warlords just keep everyone poor and miserable. Afghan Women’s Fund, PO Box 1563, Olney, MD 20830; afghanwomensfund.org.