Thursday, December 23, 2010

Go Ahead. Make Someone's Christmas. I Dare Ya.

It’s that time of year when I get to tell y’all about one of my absolute favorite non-profits, the Modest Needs Foundation. This is such a fantastic organization because it allows you to help people in need right in your own city.

Here's how it works: you make a donation to Modest Needs and your donation is turned into points. You can then browse through a list of hundreds of applications for assistance, and assign points however you wish. Applicants are people who may need help with school tuition, have fallen behind on their rent, can’t pay a utility bill, or have an unexpected car repair or medical bill -- it’s like a clearinghouse of tip jars.

I hate to say it’s fun, because some of these applicants’ stories will break your heart. But it’s like you’re playing Santa Claus, and nothing feels better than that, right?

No dollar amount is too small, either. If you only have $10 but you want to help someone, that could be the final 10 points an applicant needs to buy eyeglasses for their child.

All of the applicants are thoroughly vetted by the Modest Needs staff, so you can be assured you aren’t being scammed. Non-profit groups are also among the applicants, if you’d like to help a group with a particular need -- say, the Rottweiler rescue organization seeking funds to neuter seven animals rescued from a puppy mill.

Modest Needs also has an excellent blog that will tug your heartstrings.

‘Tis the season to give, and so many people are in need this year. It feels good to help a family afford new tires for their car, or help a single mom catch up on her rent. Browsing through the applications is a real window on the struggles ordinary folks are facing these days.

By the same token, if you know someone in need, you might put them in touch with Modest Needs. Asking for help can be hard, but there are plenty of folks out there eager to give it. Applicants are anonymous -- (as are the donors, if they wish).