You might not have heard of these hardworking organizations—but they are doing great work, and could do more with your support.
By Katha Pollitt http://www.thenation.com/article/tis-the-season-to-give-generously/
A man carries a child as migrants and refugees arrive on a dinghy after crossing from Turkey to Lesbos island, Greece.
A man carries a child as migrants and refugees arrive on a dinghy after crossing from Turkey to Lesbos island, Greece. The island of some 100,000 residents has been transformed by the sudden new population of some 20,000 refugees and migrants, mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Can it really be December? That means it’s time once again for the annual holiday-donations column, in which I warmly invite Nation readers to send a few dollars—or, heck, many, many dollars—to some particularly worthy groups doing important progressive and humanitarian work. Please do so forthwith, while enjoying a glass of mulled wine and a slice of mince pie.
§ International Rescue Committee. The refugee crisis in Europe dominated the headlines for weeks this fall, as Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, and others fled war, violence, and poverty. The headlines may be over, but the crisis is not. People are still dying on the Mediterranean, crowding along the borders, and struggling to make new lives in places where they are often not welcome. With projects in over 40 countries and more than 70 years of experience, the IRC can put your dollars to immediate use. Mark this need Urgent (rescue.org).
Even small donations make a big difference to volunteer groups and grassroots organizations like these.
§ Clinic Vest Project. Nationwide, volunteer escorts help abortion-clinic patients make their way safely through throngs of protesters, who besides being hateful and threatening sometimes try to direct women to fake “clinics” nearby. For only $10, you can provide a brightly colored vest (bubblegum pink and apple green are fashion favorites) that identifies defenders to patients and to each other. Since its founding in 2013, the project has outfitted over 55 groups at 85 clinics in 26 states and Canada. That’s over 1,800 vests. In 2016, the need is for 1,000 more—at least (clinicvestproject.org).
§ National Diaper Bank Network. Imagine not being able to afford enough diapers to keep your baby clean and dry. Not only is this unsanitary and unhealthy for the child, it produces anxiety and depression in mothers and grandmothers who have to reuse dirty diapers. Daycare centers require parents to send a supply of diapers—and without them, women can’t get childcare in order to work. Someday, diapers will be provided along with food stamps and other benefits for low-income people. Until then, help a mother out (nationaldiaperbanknetwork.org).
§ Afghan Women’s Fund. The progress made by Afghan women has been patchy, to say the least, and recent gains by the Taliban and other reactionary forces make it all the more important to act now. The AWF builds and runs schools, clinics, literacy programs, and employment projects in provinces outside of Kabul, where aid workers are scarce and little has changed. (Full disclosure: I’m proud to serve on the AWF’s board.) Women are Afghanistan’s greatest resource for peace and prosperity. Don’t let this chance to help go to waste (afghanwomensfund.org).
§ National Network of Abortion Funds. Imagine having an unwanted pregnancy and not being able to afford an abortion—which, as clinics close and restrictions mount, may include paying for travel, a hotel, and more. You can ease this unjust burden with a gift to the NNAF, the umbrella organization for nearly 100 local abortion funds that raise money tirelessly and inventively to help low-income women. Your dollars could make all the difference (fundabortionnow.org).
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§ Black Youth Project 100. This vibrant, rapidly growing activist organization was founded after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the death of Trayvon Martin. Framing its politics with a feminist/queer perspective, BYP100 focuses on police killings and brutality, the prison-industrial complex, and voting rights and registration. It’s a new politics for a new era (byp100.org).
§ Chicago Books to Women in Prison. What could be worse than being in prison? Being in prison with nothing to read, of course. You can help Chicago BWP keep education and self-development going, even in these discouraging circumstances. Money for packaging and postage is needed most right now: $10 will cover three packages, and $125 pays a month’s rent (Chicago Books to Women in Prison, c/o RFUMC, 4511 N. Hermitage Ave., Chicago, IL 60640; chicagobwp.org).
§ Network of East-West Women. Think there’s no feminism in Eastern Europe? Wrong! There’s feminism—and a huge backlash against it. Co-founded by heroic scholar and feminist organizer Ann Snitow, the NEWW brings together women from the United States and Eastern Europe to provide books, scholarly journals, seminars, conferences, and speakers. For nearly 25 years, NEWW has been a vivid and fruitful presence in political discourse from Poland to Romania. In a region moving right, especially on gender issues, due to pressure from the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, and right-wing nationalist forces, women’s rights are the key to democracy (send checks to the Network of East-West Women, 167 Spring Street, #3, New York, NY 10012, or make PayPal contributions at email@example.com).
§ Doctors Without Borders. I don’t usually put organizations as big as Doctors Without Borders on this list. But our military did just bomb its hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, and kill at least 30 staffers and patients—which means we have a special duty to repair this shocking act of destruction carried out in our name and paid for with our tax dollars (doctorswithoutborders.org).
HELP THE NATION RAISE $200,000 BY 12/31! YOUR GIFT WILL BE MATCHED!
§ DonorsChoose.org. Public-school teachers post classroom projects—books, musical instruments, school supplies, etc.—and you choose the ones you’d like to support. Most projects benefit low-income students—sadly, teachers even ask for clothes, food, and toiletries for the kids. It’s a great way to support not just children but their teachers (donorschoose.org).
§ The Nation. Yes, The Nation. If you’re reading this, you clearly rely on us for news and ideas you won’t find in the mainstream press. But whether you read us in our glorious paper format or on our newly-designed, up-to-the-minute website, it costs a lot to bring you your beloved left-wing voices. Independent journalism is expensive! So are offices, staff, health insurance, and tech, to say nothing of the occasional pizza to cheer up those dark winter days. An anonymous donor has offered to match up to $100,000 in donations as long as they’re made before December 31. So if you were thinking of sending some funds our way, this is definitely the moment (thenation.com).
Happy New Year to all!
Correction: An earlier version of this article, as well as the print version, lists The Diaper Bank rather than the National Diaper Bank Network. While The Diaper Bank is a terrific New Haven–based organization that serves central Connecticut, I meant to cite the Network, a nationally-based organization.