Full disclosure: I haven't shopped for anyone in my family yet. So, if it's gift recommendations you're looking for in this week's column, well, you're outta luck. But this is also the annual Holiday Gift Guide issue, so you're not totally outta luck.
I've given to other people's families, though. At least five homeless children now have blankets and stuffed animals and books because of the donations my husband and I made this year. And dozens of children and adults who've suffered from sexual abuse are getting the help they need to heal because of our contributions. Even KPBS made its way into our charitable, news-hungry hearts.
Why am I telling you this? Because as beautiful and well-off as San Diego appears, there are thousands of residents in need—and hundreds of local nonprofits that rely on the donations of people like you and me in order to help them.
It doesn't matter if you feed a child, help someone to learn how to read or provide comfort to a struggling military family. It doesn't matter what the dollar amount is. What matters is that we find causes that are important to us—issues we feel connected to and have a vested interest in.
Here are some I feel strongly about. Maybe they will resonate with you; maybe they won't. Try to find something that does. And give.
Who: San Diego Council on Literacy
What: Nearly half a million San Diego adults won't read this. They can't. They'd need to be on an eighth-grade reading level to do so. Instead, they range from having zero literacy skills to being on a fourth-grade reading level. And the sad reality, according to José Cruz, CEO of the San Diego Council on Literacy, is that "most adults in the San Diego region who need literacy instruction are, in fact, English-speaking." Of course, the effects of low-literacy are far-reaching. It limits employment opportunities and complicates parenting. It also affects people's health. According to the nonprofit, people with poor literacy skills are less able to accurately follow the directions on the back of medicine bottles and more likely to make frequent visits to the emergency room. That's about $73 billion in healthcare costs that could be avoided. But you know what's cheaper than hospital stays? Teaching people how to read.
How to give: Donate your money or your tutoring skills via literacysandiego.org
Who: Palomar Health Child Abuse Program
What: If sexual abuse hasn't affected you or your family, please know how lucky you are: One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused in the U.S. before age 18. Bringing perpetrators to justice is just one part of healing from such tremendous trauma. But it's an important part. And by Dec. 31, if Palomar Health—which helps survivors get their day in court—doesn't get the money it needs, it will cease to investigate claims of child sexual abuse. If that happens, San Diego will lose one of just two accredited centers for forensic interviews. And if that happens, survivors of sexual abuse and rape will be further silenced by a crime that's already shrouded in secrecy.
How to give: Please consider donating—immediately—via pphfoundation.org.
Who: Feeding America San Diego
What: Of all the problems we face, children going hungry in the U.S. has to be one of the most difficult to stomach. Consider these shameful statistics: Nearly half a million people in San Diego, the country's eighth-largest city, are food-insecure—meaning they don't have consistent access to food. Here's another punch in the gut: More than 60,000 children in this city are not eligible for federal nutrition programs, which means the money needed to feed them comes directly from charitable donations. Feeding America San Diego, established in 2007, has various programs that focus not only on filling bellies, but also ensuring that children have access to fresh, healthy food. Know that every dollar you donate to this nonprofit turns into six complete meals for the people who need them most.
How to give: Donate your money, food or your time via feedingamericasd.org.