As an author, I’m lucky this Christmastime to be able to count a good many blessings. This year both BLOOD ON THE CHESAPEAKE and CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY achieved bestseller status on Amazon and B & N in 2021!. And all three books in the Haunted Shores Mysteries series earned national awards—Gold Award (Literary Titan) Mystery of the Year (ReaderViews) and Crowned Heart of Excellence (InD’tale Magazine).
But Christmas is a time for giving, and I decided again to devote my December blog to offering a few examples of organizations truly worthy of my and your giving.
If you’re like me, you’ve received urgent pleas and requests in the daily mail from needy groups such as Boys Town or St. Jude’s Hospital or Habitat for Humanity. In fact, the pandemic has left so many of these organizations hurting and desperate, opening their mail to read their entreaties can become an angst-ridden affair for me. But I believe giving is important…and not just gifts to our family and friends. Giving says something about our soul and our heart, especially at Christmas.
But how to decide which groups deserve our support?
Like last year, I have a few recommendations.
2020, with the full onslaught of the pandemic, became the year from hell, the year we had to distance ourselves from neighbors, family and friends—for fear of dying. The stress and anxiety of that year was unlike anything I can remember.
But 2021 has struggled to outdo its predecessor. 2021 has been an unprecedented year of natural disasters and destruction for the US…and the world. In addition to the ravages of the mutating Coronavirus—800 hundred million deaths at last count!—this year we set a record for one of the worst years of wildfires in western North America. As a result of the years-long drought, thousands of horrific and huge fires raged across western US and Canada. As of December 7, the National Interagency Fire Center recorded an astounding 53,340 fires in the west, consuming more than 6.8 million acres for 2021, leaving thousands of families homeless and destitute.
2021 also brought a record storm and hurricane season to the US. The year brought twenty one named storms including seven hurricanes and four major hurricanes—Elsa which struck the Caribbean and Georgia, Grace which hit the Caribbean and Haiti (two days after a major earthquake!), Ida whose path included Cuba, Louisiana and New York City—and drowned people there in their basements—and Larry which took aim at Nova Scotia and Greenland. Combined together, these storms wreaked destruction of over $70.5 billion in property damage, the fourth worst in history.
Then, as I was penning these words this week, a wave of December tornadoes struck the Midwest, leaving death and destruction in their path across Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky. The National Weather Service believes this week’s fury was the single, deadliest tornado outbreak in US history. And the fact that the destruction hit so close to home made it more real, more personal.
Several times over the past year it’s appeared as if Mother Nature was boiling over with anger…and we were feeling her wrath.
Because of all these disasters, the organizations which are devoted to stepping in and helping those affected put their lives back together have been stretched thin over the past twelve months. In having to respond to so many disasters and crises, their resources have been depleted far faster than they can be replenished. I’m recommending three groups which have strong records and great need.
My first recommendation is the Red Cross. They are often the first line of defense for towns and people struggling to recover from disasters. In a typical year, the Red Cross responds to 64,000 disasters from home fires to the horrendous tornado that struck Mayfield, Kentucky. And 2021 has been anything but a typical year. In fact, the Red Cross responds to a new crisis across the country every eight minutes! And 95% of Red Cross disaster relief workers are volunteers, so you know your donation goes to provide much needed supplies for those struggling through some crisis.
My second suggestion is actually a repeat from last year—the Salvation Army. In addition to the myriad of other services they offer—job training and rehabilitation, homeless shelters, food pantries, veteran services, to name a few—the Salvation Army provides help, support and hope to 800,000 victims of disaster each year. Last year my recommendation stemmed largely from the fact the Salvation Army has one of the best records of all charities for making sure the money donated actually gets to those in need—a remarkable 95 cents out of every dollar. They made my list this year because of their unselfish work with those suffering through disasters and deserve our support.
My third recommendation is more Biblically minded. If you favor supporting religious organizations devoted to helping those in trouble, there are several to choose from but Matthew 25 Ministries is usually near the top of the list. This religious non-profit offers humanitarian aid and disaster relief to individuals, families and entire towns struggling through natural crises. When our local news organizations covered this past week’s tornadoes, the journalists featured a group of volunteers of the local chapter of Matthew 25 Ministries heading out with a truck full of supplies for those in trouble. Donors can be sure that money sent sent to this organization will find their way to where the need is greatest.
More information and details on the disaster relief work provided by these organizations can be found at the websites—as well as a link to donate. That’s how I did it. Of course, these are not the only groups working to support and aid those suffering through natural disasters, but I feel confident any money donated to any of these organization will be buying blankets or bottled water or canned food for families at the lowest time in their lives.
I truly respect those who are able to lend their hands and backs and shoulders to helping others clean up, rebuild and patch their lives back together. Since I’m not able to do that, I’m going to do what I can with a check instead.