Some Stuff That Might Scare You (and How to Help)

“People who go to work every day, make sacrifices to raise families, and get through life without hurting other people if they can help it-those are the real heroes.” ~Dean Koontz

Halloween is coming up, and with it the usual parade of ghouls, goblins, zombies and vampires. That’s not the stuff that scares me, P&Q Rangers. I don’t believe in ghosts, I have a fully stocked cabinet full of garlic and I’ve watched Zombieland enough times to know what to do with the undead.

It’s stark realism that scares me the most. In the United States we, even the poorest among us, enjoy a standard of living that would be the envy of much of the world. And we have the audacity to complain about how much our lives suck. The fact is, for most of the world, life is pain, to borrow a line from The Princess Bride.

But we have the power to do something. We may not be able to change the world, overnight, by ourselves. But as anyone who has ever heard the Starfish Story knows, one act of goodness often inspires countless others. Often it’s the person who takes the first step who sets off a chain reaction.

With the holidays coming up, many people ask how they might really make a difference. I’m in favor of giving time or money to any worthwhile cause (especially local, grassroots organizations), and these are some I personally support. The economy is tough everywhere. But a $5 or $10 donation, or an hour of time, might be the single grain of rice that tips the scales.

Fact: 50 percent of America’s unemployed youth ages 16-21 are functionally illiterate.

Yeah, I’m a librarian and it’s my job to care about literacy. I’m of the firm belief that literacy is the greatest key to success in life regardless of one’s background. With schools so hard-pressed to teach standardized tests, literacy is put on the back burner.

How to help:

Buy a book (or two or three) from Better World Books.

Donate your time to Literacy, Inc.

Volunteer to read to struggling students at a local school (United Way is a great place to start!)

Fact: Human trafficking and slavery are a huge problem in the United States…and nearly half the victims are children.

Slavery was officially abolished over 150 years ago in America…but the nasty secret is, it remains a problem here and around the world. Its victims are often young and have no voices of their own. It is our obligation to make sure this despicable practice ends.

How to help:

The largest nonprofit dedicated to this cause is the Project to End Human Trafficking.

Be a conscientious shopper and avoid merchants that use sweatshop and/or child labor.

If you see something suspicious (a scared-looking girl with several men, etc.), don’t be afraid to say something.

Fact: Illegal dogfighting is alive and well in this country.

With the arrest of Michael Vick a few years ago, we were all reminded that there are people who like to see dogs fight to the death. Not only is this “sport” barbaric, it also fosters drug trafficking, gambling, and a lack of empathy in those involved. Many career criminals, including murderers and rapists, began their careers torturing animals. It’s time for the brutality to end.

How to help:

Many humane societies, including the HSUS, are dedicated to eradicating dogfighting and protecting the victims.

If you suspect dogfighting in your neighborhood, this group has a detailed list of what to do.

Flag “animals for sale” or “free puppies” on your local Craigslist. This is illegal and many of these animals can wind up as “bait.”

Fact: 1 in 6 Americans struggle with hunger.

This one is perhaps the most surprising of all. America, the most prosperous country in the world? Yes…and many of those 1 in 6 are children. The sad thing is, we can all do something about it. Instead of donating just at the holidays, this is a problem we can tackle every single day.

How to help:

The best way is to donate directly to your local food bank (this site has a location finder)

Start a garden and donate produce. If you’re a hunter or fisherman, there are groups which will accept meat and fish.

Next time you’re at the store, why not buy an extra box of pasta or tuna and put it in the barrel?

By no means is this list comprehensive when it comes to the many problems in America. If you are looking for a specific way to give back not listed here, this site or your local United Way are great places to start. You can help a starfish (or two or three!)

What charities or organizations do you support? Do you have a story about helping others?

~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on October 21, 2012.

3 Responses to “Some Stuff That Might Scare You (and How to Help)”

  1. Reblogged this on Words From The Heretic.

  2. I wrote a post last week about Anti-Slavery Day, and was shocked to learn that human trafficking is actually getting *worse* in the UK. That modern slavery exists is bad enough, but to hear that the situation is deteriorating is horrifying.

    Thanks for this post – sometimes we need to hear a call to action.

  3. Great post. Not sure I knew you were a librarian, that’s fantastic. Libraries are my favorite places and librarians my favorite people.
    I’m a teacher so all for literacy!

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