10 Awesome Charities Kids Love Giving to at the Holidays

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Teach Children About What Really Matters

Family of four volunteering at a food bank
Steve Debenport/E+/Getty Images

It’s tougher than ever to help our children become kind, empathic, and caring people.

But it’s not impossible. Research shows that kids who are kind enjoy more well-being, better peer relationships, and lay the groundwork for more successful adult lives.

My family decided years ago to make our holidays less materialistic and kinder. We limited gift giving, increased our volunteering, and focused on giving the money we saved from buying gifts for ourselves to worthy charities.

My children are grown now, but it’s obvious that those efforts toward showing kindness to others paid off. They are happy, successful people who even work in occupations that are all about giving back.

There are many strategies for helping kids to be kinder. But one way is to find charities that speak to them. Then help your children donate to those charities and become involved with them.

Here’s a list of charities you and your children might want to consider giving to this holiday season. Make your donations work even harder by substituting donations for gifts to other family members. Grandma may well love knowing that she is helping someone rather than receiving another sweater.

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Oxfam America Unwrapped

You can choose a cow from the Oxfam Gift catalog to help relieve poverty in developing countries.
Oxfam America Unwrapped

 Oxfam America Unwrapped​

Feeling "cowardly" about giving another useless gift? Oxfam America offers unexpected ways to surprise your loved ones and make a difference in the fight against poverty.

Pick from a multitude of gifts: a sheep, a can of worms, 100 trees, a bicycle, or a goat.

Here’s how it works: You choose the gift. Your loved one receives a card. Your gift helps someone in need.

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Heifer International

Give the gift of education to a girl through Heifer International.
Heifer International

Heifer International 

Self-sufficiency is this charity's mantra. Honor loved ones on your gift list with a flock of chicks from Heifer International for $20 – a gift that creates sustainable benefits for a low-income family in Guatemala or Haiti. 

A hive of honey bees for $30 would start a small business in Honduras. Or your whole family could go in on a dairy cow for $500, and that would mean a miracle for a woman in Africa left to care for an extended family of AIDS orphans. Try giving the gift of education to a girl for only $275.

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Nothing But Nets

Nothing But Nets saves lives of children around the world.
Nothing But Nets

Nothing But Nets 

Malaria kills nearly one million children each year in Africa alone. But there is a simple solution - a bed net coated with repellent. People who use the nets decrease the rate of malaria dramatically. 

A bed net costs only about $10. Donate $10 or any multiple of $10 and provide a simple, effective tool to help save people from a terrible disease.

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Soles4Souls

Got shoes? Send them to Soles4Souls.
Soles4Souls

Soles4Souls 

We all take our shoes for granted. We have many pairs in our closets gathering dust. 

Soles4Souls has a mission of helping people by providing them shoes in those areas of the world where there is no shoe store, much less the money to buy shoes. 

You can donate money to this charity, organize a shoe drive, or send your own shoes to it. 

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World Wildlife Fund

The World Wildlife Fund's Holiday Gift Catalog
World Wildlife Fund

World Wildlife Fund 

For global warming and environmental issues, we like the World Wildlife Fund. 

The website has a feature that is fun for kids and parents called "WildFinder" which maps the world's animals. It is a searchable database of 26,000 species worldwide. You can search by place or species and learn about birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. 

Donating is fun too with symbolic animal adoptions, a WWF Endangered Species-of-the-Month Club, and handcrafted items that support sustainable livelihoods.

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Pencils of Promise

Pencils of Promis is all about education around the world.
Pencils of Promise

 Pencils of Promise

Sure to appeal to young people, Pencils of Promise, or PoP, brings education to kids around the world. 

This nonprofit builds schools, trains teachers, and mentors students. In addition to this primary mission, PoP also wants to inspire people to join its movement and spread the word about the need for education in many countries. 

You can donate, buy a t-shirt or a backpack, or help spread the word. Giving just $25 educates one child for one year.

Be sure to read about Adam Braun, the young founder of this inspiring organization. While backpacking around the world, Adam asked a young person what he wanted most. The answer? A pencil. Thus an idea was planted, and Adam took it from there.

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Save the Chimps

Save the Chimps
Save the Chimps

Save the Chimps 

Save the Chimps provides a permanent sanctuary for the lifelong care of chimpanzees rescued from research laboratories, the entertainment industry, and the pet trade. The rescued chimps live on three small islands in Florida.  Caged for most of their lives, the chimps now have space, freedom, and companionship.

Your family can support the chimps by donating, providing food, medical care, or by "adopting" one of the chimps. There is even an online shop where you can purchase Save a Chimp clothing or other items. 

A small charity, Save the Chimps has an inspiring story to tell, and they do tell it. Your heart strings will hum with the backstories of the chimps and, by signing up for regular emails, you'll learn about how they all are doing. These chimps become individuals with names and families.

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International Rescue Committee

International Rescue Committee
International Rescue Committee

International Rescue Committee

The New York Times reports that close to 60 million people around the world have had to leave their homes because of war or persecution. Many others do so because of drought or floods. 

It's impossible to look away from the images of desperate people, especially children, that we see on the news every day.One way to help is to support the International Rescue Committee.

This holiday season, help supply toilets at refugee camps, support healthcare for a child, or send a girl to school. Just pick a gift and then dedicate it to a person you choose (grandma, maybe?).  Choose an emailed card, or even better, a printed one that arrives by mail.

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Books for Africa

Books For Africa
Books For Africa

Books For Africa

Ever heard of a book famine? Well, they exist around the world. 

Books For Africa has one goal, and that is to get as many books as possible into the hands of kids in Africa. They collect books, ship them and get them to children of all ages wherever they are needed.

To do all of this, they need money. You can help with a donation.  

Books For Africa is a plain, no-nonsense charity. That's why they don't have the flashiest of websites. But this organization holds the highest rating available at CharityNavigator, an independent evaluation group.

If you're near St. Paul, Minnesota or Atlanta, Georgia, your family can even volunteer at the Books For Africa warehouses in those cities. 

Donate, volunteer, help fundraise for this worthy group.  Sometimes, it's the simple things, like a book, that can make a world of difference.

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American Red Cross

The American Red Cross Holiday Gift Catalog
The American Red Cross

 American Red Cross

You won't find a better known or more iconic American charity than the Red Cross.  It is there whenever bad things happen to good people.

But the Red Cross also provides vaccinations, comfort to people in the military, and lessons in swimming, CPR, and babysitting.  Pick a "gift" that will keep on giving throughout the year.