As a kid I grew up reading Gerald Durrell’s stories, most of which were based on his frankly astounding life. From his childhood growing up in Greece with a cast of hilarious humans and animals, to his adulthood collecting ever more exotic and personable creatures in distant counties, his books enthralled me for hours.
Once he grew older, Durrell started a zoo. His goal was two-fold, to educate Britain about the natural world, and to establish breeding populations of endangered species for eventual reintroduction to the wild. To further his aim (and to alleviate the financial burden his lofty plans inevitably required) he created the Durrell Trust. They work all over the world to educate not only the general public, but also to train scientists working with endangered species. Naturally, the Trust’s logo is a dodo bird.
Durrell Trust accepts donations or you can browse their store for something cool- or an animal to adopt.
The Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) is a fairly young organization, having been formed only ten years ago. Their premise is that the energy that fans put into their beloved media can also be used as a powerful force for change in the world. Thus far they’ve harnessed that energy to get Warner Bros. to change their chocolate to 100% fair trade sources, sent five planes of supplies to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, donated hundreds of thousands of books all over the world, and all sorts of other projects.
Helping them is a lot more straight forward than donating to Angel Tree- for the HPA you can donate, or join (or form) a local chapter to help them continue their good works on a local level.
it’s a bit late for Angel Tree this year, since the drop off date about the 15th, but it’s not too late yet!
Angel Tree is a program run by the Salvation Army who, yes, are problematic, but since no money goes through the SA, I feel comfortable recommending this project.
While he was alive, my dad always asked for Angel Tree as his Christmas gift, so it became family tradition for my younger sister and I to each pick an angel.
How it works is thusly:
- Families in need fill out a little form with information that varies from region to region, sometimes with clothing sizes but always with a present that the kid wants. The age range is from months old to seniors in high school.
- That information is transferred to ‘angel’ cards which are sent to local businesses to hang on Christmas trees.
- People who go to the businesses pick kids they want to buy for. You can buy just the stuff they requested or get more- we usually do more.
- Bring back the UNWRAPPED gifts to where you picked your angel. Sometimes their are volunteers, but sometimes there’s just a box to put the gifts in. Make sure all the toys are attached to the angel card.
- Volunteers sort the gifts and the families come pick them up.
I like Angel Tree because it gives a kid, who otherwise wouldn’t get anything, a Christmas. There are at least a few other programs like it, but it’s the one my family uses.
This year Kevin and I picked two kids because Big Island kids don’t ask for much. Most of them only wanted things like towels, cooking implemented, and clothes.
I also like to pick the teenagers because most people prefer to choose little kids, and the idea that age might disqualify someone from having a happy holiday make me particularly sad. On the mainland that usually means I’m buying a bike.