With Thanksgiving in just a few days and the Black Friday countdown ticking away the minutes to the mass-consumer orgy, you know it’s time for my annual Mindful Giving List. Call it a clarion call from outside the din. Call it a reminder about “the reason for the season.” Or, just call it perspective.
As we gather to give thanks for the wealth or love and friendship in our lives, it’s also good to consider what we can do to help those in need.
As in years past, I’m focusing on local groups, with a few exceptions. And as many of you know from personal experience, Las Vegas has been hit particularly hard by the recession.
Many groups on this list are helping those who are being hit hardest by the economic downturn. But the groups themselves are struggling to keep up as donations are down. So it becomes an endless cycle of not-enough.
Happy Thanksgiving! And Happy Giving!
**The Sin City Siren’s Favorite Causes 2011: **
- The Smith Center for the Performing Arts: This project is going to be a game-changer in the evolution of Las Vegas. For all those (including me) who’ve been saying for years that Las Vegas can’t be considered a world-class city until it has the capacity to host world-class culture (being America’s adult Disneyland doesn’t count), the time has come. Or rather, is coming, in the spring of 2012. The Smith Center, which is a beautiful performing arts complex located downtown across from the World Market Center, will house a Broadway theater, a dance theater, a smaller “black box” theater, a jazz club, and the relocated (and bigger) Lied Discovery Children’s Museum. It’s time to support the arts in Las Vegas.
- This year for me, the bare-minimum is donating some food to local pantries. Donations are down but the number of hungry folks is way up. According to Three Square: Sixteen percent of our county’s population is hungry. It’s time we all help the hungry in our community. I would like to plug God’s Groceries, which is a food pantry run by my church.
- The Shade Tree: Since 1990, the non-profit has been helping homeless and abused women and children with their shelter and programs. Their focus is on empowering their clients and building self-reliance. They have a great need for baby clothes/items, women’s toiletries, women’s clothes and animal care/food items for their animal shelter.
- FACT (Family and Child Treatment of Southern Nevada): The 25-year-old non-profit helps children and families heal after sexual abuse traumas. As a survivor myself, this is a cause close to my heart.
- The Rape Crisis Center: It is brave, difficult work that the Rape Crisis Center does. It’s not a cause that gets a big following because people don’t want to think about rape. But for the survivors and their loved ones who get help there, it is a lifeline.
- Domestic Violence: I can’t choose between either of the valley’s two great organizations that do good work on this issue: Safe Nest and SAFE House. Check out their wish-lists, donate money, donate time, donate a suitcase for the women who show up with all their worldly belongings in a garbage bag.
- HELP of Southern Nevada: Since it was founded in 1970 by the Junior League of Las Vegas, the non-profit HELP offers assistance to homeless people and others in crisis all over the valley. The organization is also a partner with Shine a Light, which has successfully helped get permanent housing for some chronically homeless individuals who lived in the tunnels under the city.
- It’s always a good idea to support organizations that fight for your rights. I don’t think you need me to explain why this is important. Good examples include the ACLU and Planned Parenthood.
- Another great idea is to check out the Wish Lists of local orgs. Sometimes the simplest items — toothpaste, baby blankets or office furniture — can help these organizations help so many.