Have you often found yourself trying to find the perfect gift for that special person in your life? Sometimes it’s more difficult than ever because they probably have everything you can think of. After contemplation, you decide to get a gift card to the store of their choice. How about changing things up this year and making a contribution on their behalf to an organization in need? For me, holidays represent the time of giving. Whether it’s donating a $20 bill to the local veteran in need (when I lived in Chicago, I would always donate money to the blind man that stood on the corner of Michigan Ave. and Ohio) or giving a monetary contribution to an organization that needs end-of-the-year donations, to stay afloat the following year, it’s the perfect time to give back to society. If you decide to donate money in lieu of buying gifts for your loved ones, I have a couple organizations that would appreciate your holiday help. The Fresh Air Fund – Gives thousands of inner-city children the opportunity to spend the summer with volunteer host families and FUND camps. They say that childhood memories are lasting ones that stay with you throughout your entire life. If you want to be a part of changing one child’s life and giving them memories that will shape their future, making a contribution will help this not-for-profit agency continue to provide programs for these children. If you are not able to make a donation, you can also contribute to this program by volunteering. YMCA – The Y stands for so many positive things. From their site, ” The Y is for everyone. Our programs, services and initiatives: enable kids to realize their potential, prepare teens for college, offer ways for families to have fun together, empower people to be healthier in spirit, mind and body, prepare people for employment, welcome and embrace newcomers and help foster a nationwide service ethic. And that’s just the beginning.” As a child, I remember taking my first swimming classe at the Leaning Tower YMCA in the suburbs of Chicago, and my child, took her first swimming class at the Y in Southern Calfornia. They are about community, family, and making each individual be the best they can be. For them to continue to offer programs to everyone, which means they do not turn away anyone for not having the ability to pay, yearly contributions from you and I, are the core of the Y’s ability to provide programs for everyone. Save The Children – I have been supporting this organization ever since I was approached by a fundraiser in front of my local Whole Foods. The contributions are used all around the world to save children from becoming mal-nutritioned, giving the opportunity of education, raising awareness about HIV/AIDS in countries that are heavily affected, and protecting children from abuse, neglect, violence, and exploitation. Whether becoming a fundraiser or sponsoring a child, there are mutliple ways you can help this organization run throughout the world. Give a gift of giving this year, and maybe we can change the world with one gift at a time. Giving a gift of smile to that one child in NYC or even a child in Angola who has memories of losing their parents in the country’s civil war, is priceless.