The Season of Giving a Damn

It’s cold outside. The days are incredibly short. Darkness settles in earlier than ever. Fewer faces fill the streets. My naked ear skin screams at me as I expose it to torturous temps walking to work.

Gloom comes easy this time of year.

It makes sense we get a crop of cheerful holidays right about now. Cozy fires. Twinkling lights. Flickering candles. Tasty treats. Jolly people doing jolly things. It’s a complete max out of all five senses with mega doses of goodness and joy.

And it’s the season of miracles for shit’s sake.

For instance, the Bible tell us to celebrate the miraculous birth of Christ by the Virgin Mary. Talmud tells us to celebrate the miraculous week an oil lamp burned for eight nights with just one night’s worth of fuel. And Coca-Cola tells a very plump, very generous, very old man will fly to our house and leave us gifts.

But this year, when so much seems so dark, it feels more difficult than ever to combat the big chill of the world and of our reality. Not even the best Christmas cookie or Hanukkah gelt can sweeten it for me.

But, I get it. You can’t stay in bed, hiding under the covers, binge watching “Toddlers & Tiaras,” and eating french fries out of fast food bags forever.

Anger must turn into action.

So I’m pulling myself up. Brushing the fresh fry dust off my sweatpants, and I am going to embrace the season of giving.

Giving money. Giving time. Giving a damn.

Here are 10 organizations getting my donation before year’s end. I hope you’ll consider one, a few, or something else that speaks to you.

Nationally and internationally:

The White Helmets People’s Million
The crisis in Syria may be tugging at my heart most of all right now. The images from places like Aleppo don’t make the news every night, but people are living that horror every day. This fund helps the heroes, rescue workers in Syria, who are risking everything to save lives there.

Planned Parenthood Action Fund
The new presidential administration is sure to further attack this organization which does so much good for so many. No one gets warm and fuzzy feelings talking about abortion. But abortions count for just 3% of Planned Parenthood’s total work. And let’s face it, access to an affordable and safe one is imperative, not to mention, the law of the land. Planned Parenthood’s Action Fund is committed to making sure all of Planned Parenthood’s services such as affordable health care, cancer screenings, birth control, and yes, abortions, remain available to those who need them.

Society of Professional Journalists
Want to fight fake news? Fund the real news. Plus, SPJ funds critical efforts to protect the First Amendment and ensure a free and open press — no matter how powerful or high up its attackers may be.

Sierra Club
Again, the next administration promises to put climate change deniers at the highest posts of our federal government. This organization will go to battle for us and help make sure the real problems facing our planet are taken seriously. If you don’t want your kids living on Mars, or worse, consider giving.

Locally for me in Cincinnati:

Childhood poverty is a huge issue for Cincinnati. Our city is suffering in this area more than almost any other one in the country. UpSpring is a small organization with big impact, plus an amazing team I’ve met and worked with. Helping local kids thrive, who otherwise have the deck stacked against them, seems key to our success as a city. And, seriously, no kid asked to be here. They deserve the best shot. UpSpring gives it to them.

I go crazy when someone scoffs at people who are jobless and ignorantly asks, “why can’t they just get a job?” Fact is, it’s not easy. Even something small for some of us, like buying a nice outfit for an interview, can be a barrier for others. Especially for women, where we know appearance can so often unfairly come into play for a job. Dress for Success in Cincinnati empowers women by giving them professional attire and workforce development skills. Let’s get rid of these simple barriers and help people feel good, proud, and confident when they go into an interview. It could make all the difference.

Want to stop bullying even though the president-elect is one? Let’s start early. This group wants to make sure every K-12 student feels like they fit in at school. How wonderfully simple is that? The Greater Cincinnati Chapter creates safe spaces in local schools through training; provides support for Gay-Straight-Trans Alliances in schools; runs a local stories project, illustrating school experiences through multimedia; and much more. It’s one small way we can fight the big problem of bullying — especially for those most vulnerable.

The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati
Disclaimer: I am a bit biased here. My wife works for The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. But that means I’ve had the chance to see the Federation’s incredible work first hand. The organization expertly brings diverse groups together to build a thriving Jewish community in Cincinnati and beyond. When I see disgusting acts of antisemitism here and across the U.S., I find some comfort knowing The Federation is working to educate, advocate, and strengthen allies. The Federation’s work even extends worldwide to Israel where Cincinnati donations are funding the important work of religious pluralism and equality for all. Strengthening the Jewish community benefits us all because when one minority is threatened, we’re all threatened.

The Library Foundation of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
Louder disclaimer: I’m even more biased here. I work for the Library. Regardless of that, I’ve always been a strong believer that supporting your library is one of the most important things you can do on a local level. That means giving beyond city and state taxes that simply sustain the system. Libraries are the great equalizers of our society. Anybody from anywhere can find totally free resources that open up new worlds and new opportunities. We need libraries perhaps now more than ever.

I hope you’ll give to what matters to you.

For me, each click of the donation button restores me. Just a bit.

Is all my warmth back yet? I don’t know. Maybe it’s time for another cookie. Or dozen.

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