For the first time in years I don't have to have my parents mail half my gifts back to my home after the holiday. Last year I put my foot down and instead of asking people to give to a charity for me, I gave donations in their names and gave them inexpensive gifts with some relation. It went over way better than I thought, and this year in addition to my gifts, there were donations from my parents instead of the usual over-the-top parental giving. Heifer International got a pretty decent donation, and an orphanage in Siberia got a bunch of fleece scarves and hats. I'm particularly glad, and not just for the extra space in my bags for yarn. (Yup, did some serious stash enhancement in San Francisco - pictures to follow.)
Anyway, there's been more giving in the last few days as well, this time for the tsunami victims. I'll second Kristine's recommendation of UNICEF, but Amazon will let you donate to the Red Cross via it's One-Click system, which is pretty cool. I'll also note AmeriCares, which distributes medical supplies all over the world, including the affected countries, but also is still working in Darfur, Sudan. I hadn't heard of them before, but this is what give.org has to say about them:
AmeriCares reports that about 30% of its activity is providing donated medical, food, and other relief supplies to disaster sites, and that the balance of its work is making ongoing shipments of drugs, medicines and medical supplies to healthcare programs throughout the world. In 2002, AmeriCares' assistance included about $379 million (wholesale value) in in-kind support such as donated goods, most of it from companies in the pharmaceutical industry. AmeriCares Free Clinics, staffed by rotating volunteer doctors and nurses, provide free primary healthcare for the uninsured and underinsured at three locations in Connecticut. The Camp AmeriKids program organizes summer camps for inner-city children with life-threatening illnesses. About 275 children participate in the camp's two 9-day sessions each summer. AmeriCares reports that it also conducts HomeFront, a community-based volunteer home repair program in New York and Connecticut to help homeowners who are physically or financially unable to maintain their properties.
Their numbers are pretty impressive, it looks like only about 1% of their donations go towards fundraising and administrative costs.
On a completely superficial note, today we went to San Francisco for the Emerald Bowl. Despite the off-and-on rain (which was more on than off), the game was an absolute blast. We sat behind some New Mexico fans who ended up cheering for Navy because they were impressed at the performance of the team, which had been expected to lose by a two point margin. I think Navy responded to the icky wet field better than New Mexico did, but the real highlight of the game was in the first quarter when one of the refs slid several yards and landed smack on his rear end. He changed pants at the quarter. End result? Navy - 34, New Mexico - 19 and a couple of thousand sore throats. That's Navy's first 10 win season in 99 years.