Idealist Gratitude: What Celeste and Tim are grateful for this Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, we asked our fellow Idealist staff members to reflect on a person or organization they’re grateful for. We’re posting their stories this week.

We’d love to hear what’s stuffing you with thankfulness this holiday season, too—drop us a line in the comments.

 

Joe Bell

Joe Bell.
(photo via Benjamin Zack/Standard-Examiner)

Jadin Bell was 15 years old when he took his own life. He was an openly gay teen in La Grande, Oregon who couldn’t take the bullying anymore.

For six months afterward, his father Joe Bell walked across the U.S., talking to anybody who would listen about his son’s suicide: students, churchgoers, random passersby.

When I first read about Joe in this beautiful Salon article, I was moved by the sheer amount of physical, mental, and emotional energy it must’ve taken him to talk with all those strangers, rehashing such a painful event. As an idealist, I applauded him. As a mom, I cried.

Here Joe was, a grieving father helping the best way he knew how by literally taking steps toward ending homophobia. He set up a nonprofit, Faces for Change, to help fund the journey.

He made it as far as Colorado. In a terrible twist of fate, he was struck by a car and died last month.

This holiday, I’m grateful to Joe for showing me the remarkable depths of a parent’s love. I can only hope to be that dedicated, compassionate, and courageous someday.

Want to help break the bullying cycle? Search hundreds of opportunities on Idealist.

Celly

 

Celeste Hamilton Dennis is an editor at Idealist.

 

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shutterstock_139406252

A cared-for classroom is a happy classroom.
(photo courtesy Shutterstock)

I’m thankful that DonorsChoose.org exists. Whenever I get the urge for some retail therapy online, I stop first at DonorsChoose to browse. I find that donating towards the education of deserving students and classrooms in need makes me feel a lot better than a new pair of sneaks!

I first became aware of DonorsChoose when a previous employer of mine gave the staff $50 DonorsChoose “giftcards” rather than a traditional corporate holiday gift. The company was, in effect, giving money to worthy causes, and employees got to funnel the funds to things they were passionate about or interested in. I’ve been a fan since.

Just last week, I funded an elementary school class back in my home state of Ohio. They were looking to acquire books that would help the students learn to read while garnering scientific knowledge. My mother recently retired after decades as a reading teacher, and I am personally very interested in furthering STEM education, so this particular opportunity was a win-win!

Need some good giving ideas for the holidays? Browse the 80,000+ nonprofit organizations on our site for inspiration.

Tim

 

Tim Forster is a video producer at Idealist.

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Have medicine, clothes, food, or tech to donate? We can help.

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Have too much canned corn at home? Consider donating to a food drive. (Photo by Bernard Pollack, Flickr/Creative Commons)

If you’re anything like me, you have a stash of clothing that you swear you’re planning to wear any day now, but that you haven’t touched in years. Or your organization has a pile of old laptops in a back closet. Or you have some medicine you’d really rather not throw away but don’t need. So many of you have contacted us (including a staffer’s beloved grandma!) asking where you can donate these goods that we decided it was time to put together a resource.

Take a look at our Community Support Team’s Resources for making a noncash donation page and visit Charity Navigator’s site for more great tips.

Here are a few highlights that we’ve compiled:

  • Donate items that are new, unused, or nearly new; a charity probably can’t make use of old junk any better than you can (…and may have to use valuable resources to do it).
  • If you are looking to donate medicine, it must be unused, unopened, and unexpired. Laws vary state to state, so make sure you check here or ask your pharmacist for more information.
  • Consider selling your items and donating the money you receive to charity. Try Craigslist, Ebay, or get offline and organize a garage sale!
  • Look for a local charity to maximize your impact. This cuts down on transportation costs for you or for the charity. Make sure you get in touch with them to insure your donation will be welcome and useful!

Check out our full resource here. Of course, you can also use Idealist to search for organizations in your area, and get in touch with them directly about your items to donate.

If you work with or know of an organization that we should add to our list, please contact us here!

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