A few years ago I decided that instead of birthday and/or Christmas gifts, I wanted my family to donate money to some of my favorite organizations doing the most important work across America. It’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of the festivities where receiving presents and engaging in holiday parties are some of the most exciting moments, but donating time and money to worthwhile causes is even more valuable. I find that giving brings me so much more joy than receiving ever could (not that I’m one to reject a gift or two), so I wanted to share some of my favorite organizations that would greatly benefit from a holiday donation.
NYC Books Through Bars is a New York-based nonprofit I’ve been following for a while as they spread free literature throughout prisons and jails in America. The organization is run entirely by volunteers who receive book donations from community members and send the shelf collections to incarcerated people who request specific pieces of literature. Education is one of the greatest tools to fight incarceration, so NYC Books Through Bars’ work is incredibly life changing for people behind bars. The Hawaii Community Bail Fund is part of the national Bail Fund Network that posts bail for people who are locked in pretrial detention and can’t afford to pay their cash bails. I’m especially passionate about this organization because it’s the first and only bail fund for people in Hawaiʻi who are, as expected, primarily kānaka maoli and locked in jails. I’m certain the Equal Justice Initiative will receive many more donations this year than years prior as the Just Mercy film is released this month. The organization was founded and is run by Bryan Stevenson (aka my and the world’s lawyer hero) and it provides legal services to people in Alabama who are primarily poor people of color. The last organization I’m going to ask for donations to is the National Network of Abortion Funds, which fights for people with uteruses’ rights to abortion care. Because today’s political leaders are especially hostile and act unconstitutionally in regard to abortion, I’m sending extra money aside from my monthly donations to the network. Few health services are as important to guarantee for people with uteruses than the right to an abortion.