Every year around this time, Chad, Cooper, and I try and do something good for someone else. Not every year is the same, but it’s important for us that we do what we can because first of all, it’s the right thing to do, and second, it’s an important lesson to teach Cooper; that we give what we can, when we can, to those who need it.
For the past ten years, we have spent the Christmas season looking for ways to give back. This has ranged from various Angel Tree presents, to toy drives, coat drives, etc. We have purchased coats, and hats, and shoes, and gloves, and toiletries, and food for organizations to give to people, and my absolute favorite was when we adopted a family for Christmas.
A dear friend of mine, and someone who I truly believe everyone who lives in the Quad City Area should know or meet at least once in their lives, Diana, started what’s referred to as the West End Initiative (something that would have been amazing for me if they had been around when I was a child). They aim to help people who are in need in a number of ways, but they strive to provide warm meals to children and families on the weekends (for children who otherwise only receive hot lunches at school during the week). I’ve also seen Diana and her husband assist families in finding temporary and permanent housing, assist those who are searching for jobs, find childcare, beds, you name it. Diana has called me before and told me about women who attended their Saturday lunch who didn’t have gloves or scarves, and I have bought and donated when I was able to. When she told me about a particular family one Christmas; one father and three children, who weren’t going to have a Christmas at all, Chad and I stepped in.
We purchased presents for all three children and their dad. We got them the necessities; coats and hats and scarves and boots, and new work clothes for their dad. But then we also bought them books, and games, and toys. We spent time together as a family, Cooper included, and wrapped them all up with each child’s name written on their presents. I shed a lot of tears that Christmas, and it was one of my favorites that I’ve ever had.
We opted not to have contact with the family, because we didn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. But the reaction that Diana told us they had, was more than enough to fill my heart and my bucket for a lifetime.
Last year I organized a clothing and coat drive for the West End Initiative, and collected donated items that we were able to give Diana to hand out to those who needed them. This year, we haven’t officially decided what we’ll be doing, but it will be something and I can’t wait to dive into whatever project it is.
Because of my passion for this, and how dang important I truly feel it is, I wanted to put together a list of the top recommended organizations or charities that you could consider researching and potentially donating to this holiday season. Please keep in mind, that a donation does not always mean money. A donation could be a new or even used item, or even your time. There have been organizations that I’ve found online that have touched me so deeply, that I’ve reached out and asked how I could help. Sometimes it’s just in raising awareness and sharing their posts and their links so that more people can find out about them. A donation can really be anything, and it doesn’t have to be something that’s holiday or winter based. It can be any organization that strives to help someone that really touches your heart. The smiles that will light up the faces of those you touch will be more than worth it, I promise.
This list is one that I’ve put together of organizations that I know and trust, and those that people have provided me from different groups I’m a part of on Facebook and Instagram. I would ask from the bottom of my heart, that you take the time to read through, and if one really resonates with you, click on the button and just take a further peek. If you don’t see one listed that you feel should be, PLEASE comment below with the general information so that people can see it.
Organizations Worth Giving Back To This Holiday Season
West End Initiative
About: The West End Initiative is a non-profit organization in Davenport, Iowa whose mission is to “change the neighborhood one child at a time.”
Jefferson Elementary School
About: Jefferson Elementary School is located in Davenport, Iowa. I received a message on FB from someone who works at this school, and what she shared with me I wanted to pass along to you. She mentioned that the kids at this school have an opportunity to earn Jet Bucks for good behavior, and a lot of times, they are cashing in these bucks for shampoo, conditioner, food to take home for dinner, and other basic necessities vs. toys and games.
Website/Contact: You can find out more about the school and who to contact to find out how and what to donate at their website.
Habitat for Humanity
About: Habitat for Humanity is a global nonprofit organization working with local communities in all 50 U.S. states and over 70 countries worldwide. Their vision is being able to provide a world where everyone has access to a home.
Website/Contact: You can locate your local chapter via the resources provided on their main website: habitat.org.
About: King’s Harvest is a ministry located in Davenport, Iowa who serves the poor and homeless in the Quad Cities. Their shelters offer comfort and a warm place to stay; they provide groceries to needy and homeless families twice per month, and every week they serve warm meals to 500+ people in need.
About: Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization that aims to provide spiritual and physical aid to hurting people all over the world. They help meet the needs of those who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and more.
Website/Contact: You can learn more about their programs and initiatives by visiting their website.
Empowering Women, Women’s Health, etc.
She’s the First
About: She’s the First supports girls worldwide who will be the first in their families to graduate high school. 15 million girls under 18 are married each year worldwide, and 781 million adult women are illiterate. Being an educated girl in our world is still an exception in too many places, and She’s The First strives to change that while bridging the gap between gender inequality.
Website/Contact: You can learn more about She’s The First at their website shesthefirst.org.
The Letter Project
About: You may remember reading about The Letter Project from an older post of mine, but the short version is that the Letter Project is a nonprofit whose mission is to foster a community of women who build others up and encourage by spreading love through letters.
Ovarian Cancer Research Fund
About: The Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance strives for ongoing funding for research to discover and create new treatments while advocating for their patients. They work with legislators to ensure federal ovarian cancer research and education funding, as well as access to quality care.
Website/Contact: You can learn more by visiting their website ocrahope.org.
NormaLeah Ovarian Cancer Initiative
About: An educational resource regarding Ovarian Cancer. Their mission is to create public awareness while promoting early detection of Ovarian Cancer and support for all women.
Website/Contact: You can learn more about the start of this organization as well as what they do at normahleah.org.
About: Gilda’s Club is a community organization for people who have cancer, their families, and their friends. There are local chapters in multiple states that provide meeting places for those to come together to build emotional and social support.
Website/Contact: You can Google Gilda’s Club in your area, or visit the Quad City Chapter’s website here.
Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence
About: The Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence (KCSDV) is a nonprofit organization and coalition who aims to prevent and eliminate sexual and domestic violence.
Dress for Success QC
About: Dress for Success quad Cities helps serve under-employed and unemployed women in the QC area by providing support, professional attire, and developmental tools to help them thrive in life and in the workforce.
Website/Contact: Find out more about Dress for Success by visiting their website.
Royal Ball Run of the QC
About: The Royal Ball Run for Autism stems from the 1 in 59 children who are diagnosed each year with Autism. The Royal Ball Run is dedicated to celebrating these children and their achievements, their courage, and their future. Their goal is to raise awareness and support the children and families who have been touched by autism.
Hand in Hand
About: Hand in Hand was originally started by two families who wanted there to be more activities and more places for children with disabilities so that they could have the same experiences as other children. Hand in Hand now serves children of all abilities, and provides programs such as summer camps, and year round programs that focus on fun, inclusive learning and recreational opportunities. These programs help give their primary caregivers a respite.
Website/Contact: You can visit their website here.
About: Gigi’s Playhouse changes lives through consistent delivery of free educational, therapeutic-based programs for those who have Down Syndrome, their families, and the community.
Website/Contact: Learn more by visiting gigisplayhouse.org.
Family & Friends
About: Family and Friends is a not-for-profit local organization in the Quad Cities that provides assistance for adults with cognitive disabilities. Formed in the 1970’s by a group of mothers who had children with varying disabilities as a way of offering support to those coping with the every day situations. The group has expanded over the years to provide support and enhance specific needs within the organization. They provide recreational activity opportunities to adults with disabilities, including hosting various dances, pizza parties, picnics, boat rides, and more. They have even been able to supply individuals with glasses, dental work, etc.
Website/Contact: You can contact Family & Friends by calling 309-732-0699.
About: Veterans Empowered to Protect African Wildlife strives to end African poaching and conserve endangered species. They utilize the skills and experience of post-9/11 US Veterans to train park rangers and support their communities.
About: A little different from what we’ve mentioned thus far, Rescued is a resale boutique located in Moline, IL. Their mission is to support animal welfare in the Quad Cities and they do this by donating profits to local pets in need.
About: Western Illinois Animal Rescue is a nonprofit organization that is run 100% by volunteers. They focus on helping animals in need and they are a No Kill organization.
Helping Kids Stay Healthy
About: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital focuses on finding cures, and means of prevention for pediatric catastrophic diseases. They believe that no child should be denied treatment based on their race, religion, or the family’s ability to pay.
Make a Wish
About: Make a Wish’s vision is to grant every child diagnosed with a critical illness a wish. On average, in the U.S., a wish is granted every 34 minutes.
Website/Contact: You can visit their main website here, which will also provide information on local chapters.
Children’s Cancer Connection
About: The Children’s Cancer Connection is an organization who sponsors two weeklong summer camps for children with cancer and their siblings. These camp programs are designed to help children escape caner’s effects. They also provide support groups, event outings, and weekend retreats for an additional 400 family members throughout the year. The program provides services for all children diagnosed, living in, OR treated in Iowa.
Website/Contact: You can visit their Facebook page here.
Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation
About: Created by Alexandra “Alex” Scott at the age of four, after being diagnosed with a childhood cancer just before her first birthday. She wanted to set up a lemonade stand in her front yard, with hopes to raise money to give to the doctors to find a cure for cancer. Her first stand raised $2,000 in one day. She continued to set up these stands every year, and when she passed away in 2004, her stand has raised more than $1 million toward finding a cure for cancer. Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation was started by her parents in 2005 to continue the work that Alex so amazingly began.
Website/Contact: Visit the website here.
The Elizabeth Grace Sleep Sack Project
About: This project was founded by Craig and Jenny Atzen in memory of their daughter, Elizabeth, who died of SIDS in 2002. Their mission is to prevent other families from experiencing such a heartbreaking loss. What they do, is put forth efforts to ensure that every baby born at Genesis BirthCenter in Davenport, Iowa is sent home with Halo® Infant SleepSack and education on safe sleep.
Website/Contact: You can learn more about this campaign by visiting their website.
About: The University of Iowa Dance Marathon is a student-run organization that aims to provide year-round support to youth cancer patients as well as their families. Each year they sponsor The Big Event, which is a 24-hour Dance Marathon. At the marathon, students assemble to celebrate the children survivors as well as remember the children who have passed away throughout the year. Dancers remain on their feet for as long as they are able to within the 24 hours.
World Relief Moline
About: World Relief Moline is a not-for-profit agency in Moline, Illinois who provides services to refugees and immigrants in Western Illinois and Eastern Iowa areas. Their mission is to help serve vulnerable populations through partnerships with local churches, agencies, and communities. They seek to provide financial, emotional, cultural, and spiritual support to refugees who are being placed in the Quad Cities.
Website/Contact: Learn more by visiting their website here.
About: Tapestry Farms gives space, love, and resources to help refugee women reach their goals and find safety in the Quad Cities.
About: The Sierra Leone International Missions Schools provides education, recreation, and medicine to more than 5,000 students everyday.
Website/Contact: Find them on Facebook.
Heart For Africa
About: Heart for Africa is a faith-based humanitarian organization that focuses on assisting in areas of relieving hunger, rescuing and caring for orphans, fighting poverty with employment, and providing education to children and adults in eSwatini, Africa.
Website/Contact: More information can be found on their website.
Empower Tanzania Water Party 2018
About: Empower Tanzania Water Party 2018 is helping raise money to provide clean water for the people living in this village.
Website/Contact: Learn more here.
Operation Underground Railroad
About: Since 2013, Operation Underground Railroad continues to work diligently with the world’s experts in extraction operations and anti-child trafficking efforts to bring an end to child slavery. Once victims are rescued, a comprehensive process is followed involving justice for the perpetrators and recovery and rehabilitation for survivors.
Felix Adler Children’s Discovery Center
About: Located in Clinton, Iowa, Felix Adler Children’s Discovery Center is a children’s museum that provides hands-on learning activities and weekly educational programs.
Website/Contact: Visit them on Facebook.
About: Young Life focuses on building relationships with youth and teaching them about Jesus and the Word of God.
Website/Contact: Visit the donation site here.
A great friend of mine, and owner of the Iowa City Mom’s Blog shared some resources they put together for organizations in the Iowa City Area. You can find a comprehensive list here.
If you are aware of other amazing organizations, please comment below with their information. Let’s keep this chain going and do what we can to help as many as we can.