Gaza, Ferguson, the midterms, abortion clinics closing, torture. Was 2014 the worst or what? Fortunately, it’s not too late to spread a little love. Have a glass of champagne and donate to one (or more!) of these great groups.
1. We Need Diverse Books. More than half of all schoolchildren are of color, LGBT, have a disability or belong to another minority. But children’s books don’t come near to reflecting that reality. In 2013, for example, only 10 percent of books about people featured a person of color. This new and energetic organization of authors, bloggers and publishers—which burst onto the publishing scene after one too many all-white-male panels convened last spring—wants to make sure today’s kids can find themselves and their stories on the library shelf (weneeddiversebooks.org).
2. Lost Voices. Looking for a way to help keep the movement moving in Ferguson? Lost Voices is a local grassroots group with lots of young women and LGBTers in leadership, working against police brutality and for nonviolent social change in Missouri and beyond. You can read all about them and donate at thelostvoices.org.
3. NYC Books Through Bars. Imagine being stuck in a cell with nothing to read—or almost as bad, nothing good to read. BTB is a collective that sends thousands of books each year to prisoners across the nation. Their biggest need? Money for postage. For every $10 you donate, two prisoners can get books they want and need. Check out the letters on their website from happy recipients (“Thank you for introducing me to Aeschylus”). Make checks payable to “ABC No Rio” and send to: Books Through Bars c/o ABC No Rio, 156 Rivington St., New York, NY 10002 (booksthroughbarsnyc.org).
4. Sea Change. This group of energetic young activists wants to change the way we talk—and think, and feel—about abortion. First step: conversations that are nuanced, complex and based on experience. The Untold Stories Project brings women together in reading groups around an anthology of personal stories about reproductive life (I’ve read it, and it is terrific). Result: possibly the first open, frank discussion of abortion these women have ever had. Your donation will help Sea Change scale up with lots more reading groups, laying the groundwork for long-term culture change. $150 funds books and a discussion guide for a group of ten (seachangeprogram.org).
5. American Jewish World Service Emergency Response Fund. AJWS has many important projects around the world, but its campaign against the Ebola epidemic in West Africa is particularly urgent. Misinformation, mistrust and fear are exacting a tragic toll, but when villagers hear from trusted locals about how to prevent infection, the message sticks. Write “Ebola” on the memo line, and send your check to American Jewish World Service, 45 West 36th St., 11th fl., New York, NY 10018 (http://ajws.org/where_we_work/emergency_relief/ebola/).