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October 15, 2008


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I've donated to CARE. I like the variety of services they provide (food, education, vaccinations, etc) in areas of the world that are the most hard-hit by poverty and hunger. I also like the empowerment for women. Their rating from the site you linked to is 3 out of 4 stars.

Their mission is:
Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. Our mission is to serve individuals and families in the poorest communities in the world. Drawing strength from our global diversity, resources and experience, we promote innovative solutions and are advocates for global responsibility. We facilitate lasting change by: strengthening capacity for self-help; providing economic opportunity; delivering relief in emergencies; influencing policy decisions at all levels; and addressing discrimination in all its forms. We place special focus on working alongside poor women because, equipped with the proper resources, women have the power to help whole families and entire communities escape poverty.

Last night, as I walked home from the bus stop, a homeless man named Charlie very politely approached me and asked me for money because he had only eaten 1 meal that day and it was almost 7 pm.

I worry that if I give someone in his position cash, it may be used to buy alcohol. I told him I could not give him any money, but if he wanted to, we could go across the street to the convenience store and get him some dinner and snacks. He gratefully agreed.

We walked inside, and he got two of the half-sandwiches out of the cooler, some cheese/cracker combos, and a Mountain Dew. I paid with credit and carefully blocked the receipt from his view with my body as I signed.

He thanked me profusely. Once we walked outside and I determined which way he was going, I told him I lived in the opposite direction (not true), and bid him good evening. I walked 2 blocks out of my way until he was clear from view, and then turned around and walked home.

This is how I try to handle situations with people asking for money. If they are truly hungry, and I can do something about it, I try to help them by buying them what they need, in a public place, in a way in which they learn little to nothing about my person or where I live. To me it provides the maximum balance between compassion and personal safety.

I too support Samaritan's Purse and Compassion International. Super charities!

But my biggest support now (outside of tithing to my local church) is for the construction of a girl's dorm in an orphanage in Nicaragua. A building will be built to begin housing orphan girls over the age of 14, who up to now are not allowed by Nicaraguan law to stay in the same dorm with younger girls, and hence are kicked out to live in the streets of Managua, where they often resort to drugs and prostitution. For relatively few dollars, lives can be changed. Makes me feel a lot better than much of the nonsense that Congress does with some of my taxes.

I support two groups:

The Fistula Foundation, not strictly an anti-poverty group, but it's amazing the impact they can have on one woman's life for very little cost. They help women injured in childbirth.

The Damiano Center, a place in Duluth, Minnesota, that operates food, clothing, and housing assistance programs and serves thousands of people every year. Very simple, direct, thrifty.

I love Heifer International ( which focuses on ending world hunger. Great for kids since you can raise money to "send an animal" to people who need it. When I was a kid our Sunday School class used to collect money to buy goats and sheep.

I also really like Kiva ( - the whole microfinance concept is really appealing. Helping others help themselves - and you get to read individual stories and choose the businesses you'd like to support. The personal connection is neat.

Locally, my parish runs one of the main soup kitchens for the homeless in my city. Internationally, I support the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, which, among other things, will try to address poverty related issues. I've also supported Heifer International in the past.

I like Modest Needs (, which provides small grants to low-income people who are struggling with an unexpected expense (car repair, medical bill). The idea is that by helping those who live paycheck-to-paycheck from being completely overwhelmed by some unexpected lump-sum bill, we can help them avoiding sliding further down the scale (i.e., if you can't afford to fix your engine, then you might end up losing your job, which means not being able to make rent, and on and on--which all might have prevented with $500 for the engine).

Our church has been involved in Samaritan's Purse for several years and have sent out over 100 boxes. We even sometimes hear from the children who receive them. I really like this organization.

"ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults"


Ohmygawd? What's wrong with this christianity?

"I hold that proselytisation under the cloak of humanitarian work is unhealthy to say the least. It is most resented by people here. Religion after all is a deeply personal thing. It touches the heart." - Mahatma Gandhi

Please read and enlighten yourself

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