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I am loved. And I can make change. Here are 20 ways to help the world.
When I was in high school, one of the “things” was to wear one of those little “I Am Loved” buttons on your backpack. It was seemingly more important than whatever jewelry you supposedly needed to buy to get one, because the mere idea of teenagers approaching a jewelry counter, where the pins were kept in big fishbowls, was thrilling in and of itself.
I remember desperately wanting one for a time. Because they were impersonal, it wasn’t like you had to get rid of it after you broke up with your boyfriend, yet at the same time it was an uplifting confirmation that flew in the face of high school trauma. I AM LOVED. Declared right there for everyone to see.
As we grow older, we stop declaring ourselves so much. We find our niche, our version of a hidey-hole where we can sow personal seeds and quietly raise our families. We seek out the like-minded, because it is comforting. We don’t quite feel the need to shout I AM LOVED because it is already known by the people around us.
When confronted by what we aren’t used to, things get scary. They might get dangerous. Fear is like a commercial jingle earworm — it roots down in there and takes hold, popping up when we can least expect it. Fear causes us to not tell people they are loved. To not remember that we are all loved by someone. That we are all human.
“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” – Mahatma Gandhi
The past week has been a test of the heart for many of us. Confronted with fear, we have turned inward even more. But turning inward means laying a mirror within ourselves, and seeing what we are truly made of. What we are truly doing. How we are making sure people know they are loved.
Action is one way for me to get through heartache and fear. I made a list of 20 ways to help the world, through volunteering, organizing, and donating. These organizations work to help vulnerable populations, animals, and the planet. Especially as this holiday season approaches, consider helping out where you can.
- American Civil Liberties Union works to defend rights and liberties defined in the U.S. Constitution.
- American Immigration Council works to achieve justice and fairness for immigrants under the law.
- Austin Pets Alive! is a no-kill animal shelter for rescues in the Austin area.
- Boys and Girls Club of America offers enrichment, mentorship, and support for children.
- Farm Aid works to support family farmers by fostering connections between farmer and consumer and strengthening local markets.
- Families USA works to achieve quality, affordable health care for all Americans.
- Feeding America is a network of food banks across the country working to end hunger.
- Human Rights Campaign works for equality and civil rights for all LGBTQ people.
- March of Dimes works to prevent birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.
- Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) provides medical aid where it is needed most, around the world.
- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) works to eliminate race-based discrimination and promote the civil rights of people of color.
- Native American Rights Fund provides legal assistance to Native Americans and their tribes and organizations.
- Oxfam works to eradicate poverty around the world.
- PEN America aims to protect free and open expression through writing and literature.
- RAINN runs programs to help victims of sexual violence, including the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800-656-HOPE).
- SafePlace Austin provides shelter and safety to those affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, and exploitation.
- Sierra Club works to preserve the environment, its creatures, and the planet.
- Southern Poverty Law Center uses litigation, education, and advocacy to fight hate groups and bigotry.
- World Pulse connects women from 190 countries to create social change.
- World Vision supports children and families in developing nations and the United States through sponsorships and supply gifts.
There are many, many more causes across the world. Choose what you want to mirror.