Acting Locally to Help Globally
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Acting Locally to Help Globally

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD

Acting Locally to Help Globally

Major disasters around the world not only generate heavy news coverage — they also move people to donate money, supplies, and a helping hand to those affected.

Away from the limelight, however, are countless smaller everyday health crises that also need the help of developing nations and their citizens.

It's easy to feel powerless when you see reports of famine, starvation, disease, violence, and poverty, yet many organizations are already in place to ensure that charitable contributions have the maximum impact.

Helping others lets parents teach kids important lessons about the value of sharing and sacrifice — plus, most kids enjoy discovering that they can make a difference in the world and help those who are less fortunate.

What This Means to You

Talk with your kids about how your family can make small but meaningful contributions to those in need. Discuss the issues that interest you and then start researching which groups can make best use of your help.

For instance:

  • If the cholera outbreak in Haiti has spurred your interest in making clean water available there or in other developing countries, many clean-water activist and education groups would welcome your help.
  • One extremely effective, inexpensive option is helping to send insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent malaria (which kills more than 1 million worldwide each year, mostly kids) in Asia and Africa.
  • UNICEF and Save the Children have worked for years to protect, feed, and educate kids all over the world.
  • The Hunger Project's mission is to end hunger and poverty in Africa, Asia, and Latin America by building self-reliance, empowering women, and working with local governments.
  • Habitat for Humanity doesn't just build housing in the United States — they need help and volunteers for their international efforts, too.
  • The International Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders both respond to crises around the globe to help populations deal with emergencies, often in dangerous regions suffering from armed conflicts.

Of course, these are just a few of many worthwhile campaigns and groups. Whatever causes you decide to support, pay a visit to the websites of the Better Business Bureau or the American Institute of Philanthropy to be sure that an organization is legitimate and fiscally responsible.

During the holiday season, many families look for ways to help those in need. It's a great time to get started — you can even do your online holiday shopping through portals that connect shoppers to major retailers and donate a portion of all sales to various charities. But remember, your family can make a difference all year round.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: December 2010