Five organizations where you can spend time this Christmas (and all year round)

Co-written by Belle Toledo
Art by Sean Eidder

We all know that the past year wasn’t such a great one (in most cases, for reasons beyond our control). Why not end 2016 and start 2017 on a positive note by lending your time or sharing what you have? Your actions might just turn someone else’s bad year around. December is usually tagged as the month of giving, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t give a helping hand all year round.

If you have no idea where to start, don’t fret. We’ve compiled a list of organizations that you can help out in. These places are open to receiving donations and volunteers, and we hope that you take this as a step to continue the good spirit for the next 12 months.

Home for the Golden Gays

We can all agree that it’s important to find a place where you can be yourself and be fully accepted for it; a place that feels just like home. That is what The Home for the Golden Gays aims to provide for the elderly and homeless gays of Metro Manila. At their home, they hold outreach programs and livelihood workshops for the lolas.

However, after the death of their founder Justo Justo in 2012, they lost their home and currently work and meet at a temporary location. The lolas currently reside at homes of relatives and friends, while others are back on the streets without any food or money. They are actively trying to find a new home so they can bring back the community they worked so hard to bring together.

How you can help: Since they lost their home, finding a new one is their immediate need so they can resume with their livelihood programs and sustain the needs of the residents. They are looking for donors for the housing of the senior gays. Aside from that, you can extend a helping hand in the form of food or cash donations to sustain the lolas, even if they are no longer under the same roof. For donations, inquiries and outreach programs, contact Mr. Ramon Busa through mobile at  +639476930516 or through email at [email protected] or [email protected].

Black Pencil Project

If all the outdoorsy Instagram and Snapchat stories you’ve tapped through these past few years are any indication, more and more people are getting into hiking and mountain climbing. While the hype might have died down a bit, the folks at Black Pencil Project are still actively climbing mountains and crossing rivers and they aren’t just doing it for the ‘gram. The organization advocates “voluntourism”, which is a more personal way to connect with the communities in need. Black Pencil Project provides school supplies like pencils, pens, and paper to public elementary school children living in remote and indigenous communities in the Philippines. To ensure that the students receive the supplies they donate, their volunteers personally travel with the supplies by jeep, bus, and boat to places as far-off as the Babuyan Islands and Batanes.

How you can help: The best way to help them would be to volunteer for their upcoming community immersion activities. You can also donate school supplies and support their Christmas t-shirt fundraising project. For more information on how to volunteer or donate, check their website: www.blackpencilproject.org, and their social media: http://facebook.com/blackpencilproject/, @penciltreks on Twitter/Instagram.

Tahanang Walang Hagdanan

It’s sad that there is still a stigma associated with persons with disabilities (PWDs) that they are too weak to do anything, or that they can’t carry out day to day tasks like able-bodied people. But the people of Tahanang Walang Hagdanan (TWH), a non-profit organization that provides housing and livelihood for PWDs, debunks this stigma. The organization is literally built a home without stairs. It has various workshops where residents work to create metal items like wheelchairs, wooden school chairs, and canvas bags in order to earn a living.

How you can help: Looking for last minute Christmas gifts for your family? They’ve got an array of products including wooden children’s toys, religious items, and more in their online stores and physical gift shop. Visit Tahanang Walang Hagdanan at 175 Aida Street, Marick Subdivision, Barangay Sto. Domingo, Cainta or contact Mich Fernandez at 09223780706 to inquire about how you can volunteer or donate.

Compassion and Responsibility for Animals (CARA)

We think animal lovers will agree when we say that pets are considered members of the family. This is applicable during the holiday season, too, when there’s always a little toy waiting under the Christmas tree for little Fido. With CARA’s help, we can be Santas not only to our own pets, but to those waiting for their fur-ever home.

Through their clinic, they provide affordable veterinary care for low-income pet owners. Most of the rescued pets reside in foster homes of the members, but in special cases they stay at the clinic. CARA also holds various rescue missions with the goal to rehabilitate and rehome pets in need.

How you can help: Donations through cash or through essential pet items such as dog food, cat food, medical supplies and toys are most welcome. If you’d like to go the extra mile, CARA is always open to volunteers and loving individuals or families to foster pets. For more information visit http://www.caraphil.org/. You may also contact them through email [email protected] or landline +632 5323340.

The Storytelling Project  

Do you remember the first time you picked up a book and discovered how its pages could take you to far-off places without you having to even leave your room? The Storytelling Project is an organization that aims to help other kids from remote communities get that same feeling, too. They aim to instill a love of reading and learning in children with a program that involves three steps: IMAGINE, where they hold a 21-Day Storytelling Program; CREATE, where they put up a library to create avenues for the children to keep reading; and SHARE, where they hold book club activities.

How you can help: Donate to The Storytelling Project’s initiatives by depositing in the account Kwento Pilipino Inc. (BPI Checking Account #4531-0001-08). You can also volunteer to visit beneficiary areas and participate in their three-step program. For more information, visit their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TheStorytellingProject or email them at [email protected].

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