Santa can’t fill that big bag of his all by himself. He relies on the help of some very generous and kind elves who live places other than the North Pole to help spread holiday cheer. Some of the special elves that I know about and try to support are:
Read Out and Read (nation-wide). The Washington chapter co-ordinator, Dr. Jill Sells, is the daughter of a dear friend. She has a heart of gold and is not only a physician and busy mom herself, but she is working hard to get this program off the ground here in my home state. From their website:
Reach Out and Read prepares America’s youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together.
Doctors, nurse practitioners, and other medical professionals incorporate Reach Out and Read’s evidence-based model into regular pediatric checkups, by advising parents about the importance of reading aloud and giving developmentally-appropriate books to children. The program begins at the 6-month checkup and continues through age 5, with a special emphasis on children growing up in low-income communities. Families served by Reach Out and Read read together more often, and their children enter kindergarten with larger vocabularies and stronger language skills, better prepared to achieve their potential.
Another passion of mine is Page Ahead, a non-profit organization dedicated to placing a book — of the child’s choice! — in the hands of each at-risk child in Washington State. In fact, I’m making a donation in the name of one dear writer friend for the holiday– you might want to do the same!
Two amazing writers, Jane Kurtz and Michele Torrey, have focused their time and talents on reaching out to children in Africa.
Jane’s organization, Ethopia Reads, is working to bring libraries to children in all parts of that country. One of their “bookmobiles” is a donkey!
A plan to hike Kilamanjaro took Michele on a completely different journey: she and her husband and a friend began a nonprofit, Orphans Africa, to build orphanages and schools for the children of Tanzania. If you live in the Puget Sound area, check out their website for information about their February fundraiser.
I also love the work of the Densho Project, Best Friends Animal Society, and Homeward Pets. I’m sure you all have your favorite causes, too. Most of these groups make it very easy to donate on-line. If a financial donation isn’t possible for you, consider donating books, as I’ve done for fundraising auctions for Densho and Homeward Pets. Of course, volunteers are always appreciated by any of these good folks.
Remember, Santa’s checking that list twice! And he really thinks it’s nice when we help one another.