Here are 6 amazing ways to give this season

Stop human trafficking: Participate in #Dressember!

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#Dressember founder Blythe Hill

Donate as little or as much as you would like to an existing campaign, or create your own and set a goal for a chance to win fantastic prizes on dressember.org. I heard about this organization from actor, director and producer Jennifer Morrison. You can find her campaign page and countless others here. To help raise awareness for human trafficking, wear a dress every day in December, spread the word and share photos on social media with the hashtags #Dressember and #ItsMoreThanADress. Any donation, however large or small, will go toward the lifesaving work of Dressember partners International Justice Mission and A21.

The problem: Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, generating more than $150 billion every year, according to A1.com. The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 4.5 million people trapped in forced sexual exploitation globally. Sadly, only one percent of the millions enslaved today are ever rescued. 

What Dressember does: Dressember partners work with law enforcement agencies to identify, protect and free people who have been forced into the commercial sex trade, train those in positions of power to identify signs of slavery, help build strong cases against traffickers, pimps, and criminals, and provide survivors with access to housing, medical treatment, individualized trauma counseling, vocational opportunities, and education.

Learn more: dressember.org

Help scientists find the cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

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This cause is so unbelievably close to my heart! June Bonds, my grandmother, was a wife and a mother of four. She lived with Alzheimer’s for nearly seven years before she passed away in 2008. My late papa Ken, a WWII veteran and talented musician, spent the entirety of those seven years caring for her, and religiously sang to her memory until his death in October of this year. There is no worse feeling in the world than watching someone you love forget you. In honor of them both, I implore you to give this season to the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund.

The problem: The most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disease that causes problems with memory, reasoning, behavior and motor skills. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s slowly worsen over time, and the disease is ultimately fatal.

What Cure Alzheimer’s Fund does: Cure Alzheimer’s Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to funding research with the highest probability of preventing, slowing or reversing Alzheimer’s disease. So far, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund has raised more than $50 million for research!

Learn more: curealz.org

Calling all Harry Potter fans! Donate to Lumos, and help keep families together around the world.

Harry potter fans will love this one! Donate as little as $10 to Lumos, a charity founded by J.K. Rowling, for a chance to win a copy of the “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” screenplay signed by J.K. Rowling, a Lumos t-shirt signed by Eddie Redmayne, a print from the “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” illustrated edition signed by artist Olivia Lomenech Gill and a replica of Newt Scamander’s wand!

The problem: More than eight million children around the world are living in institutions, only the majority of these children aren’t orphaned. Many are poor, disabled or from an ethnic minority. Nearly 80 percent have families that love them and want them, but are unable to support them.

What Lumos does: Lumos works with governments, professionals and caregivers, communities, families and children, to transform outdated systems that separate families. Lumos replaces institutions with community based services that provide children with access to health, education and social care.

Learn more: wearelumos.org

Save cute puppies and dolphins! Stop animal cruelty around the world.

IMG_1806This year, I rescued my first puppy! His name is Cooper, and he is a nine-month-old bundle of energy and cuteness. Cooper is a PAWS dog. PAWS Chicago is an amazing organization that is dedicated to building no kill communities in Chicago, ending the overpopulation of homeless animals, and transforming animal welfare. In 1997, the year PAWS was founded, more than 42,000 animals were euthanized in shelters. In 2012, that number was down to 17,000.

But like always, the problem is much bigger. It’s not just domesticated animals that need our help; there are countless organizations dedicated to the preservation and protection of wild animals, and more specifically, endangered species. I have long been an advocate to end the dolphin slaughter off the coast of the southwestern Japanese town of Taiji, which you can take action on here. (If you’re interested in learning more, I encourage you to stream Ric O’Barry’s Academy Award-winning 2009 documentary, “The Cove,” which is available on Netflix.) Cruel animal factories, which raise and slaughter pigs, cows, chickens and other animals, are also a huge problem.Some of the largest factories are in the U.S., Not everyone can adopt a pet, but you can donate your time this season at a local animal shelter or donate money to a national organization that shares your values!

The problem: Animals around the world suffer at human hands every single day. According to the Humane Society of the U.S., cases of abuse are most often reported in the U.S. for dogs, cats, horses and livestock. Based on the 1,423 U.S. cruelty cases on pet-abuse.com’s 2011 digest, 70.1 percent involved dogs, 20.9 percent involved cats, and 24.1 percent involved other animals.

What Animal Welfare Institute does: A 4-star Charity Navigator rated organization, PAWS Chicago takes in animals at their no-skill shelters around the city, hosts city-wide adoption events throughout the year to get their animals into good homes,  provides free spay and neuter clinics to low-income families with pets, provides affordable dog training programs, and more. You can also donate on a more national level by giving to the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI). AWI engages with policymakers, scientists, industry and the public to abolish factory farms, achieve humane slaughter for animals raised for food, encourage the development and implementation of alternatives to experimentation on live animals, end the use of brutal methods of capturing and killing wildlife, preserve endangered species, and protect companion animals from cruelty and violence.

Learn more: awionline.orgpawschicago.org, dolphinproject.com

Keep young girls across the globe where they belong—in school.

I can’t say it enough: This is so important. Donate to Glamour’s The Girl Project this season and help a young girl stay in school—or better yet—plan your own fundraiser! There is no minimum or maximum donation, simply give what you can.

The problem: 50 million girls around the world are not in secondary school, but they should be. Many times this is due to poverty, child marriage, civil unrest, bullying, teenage pregnancy, homelessness and gender-based violence.

What The Girl Project does: The Girl Project supports programs in more than 100 countries that make education easily accessible, improve the quality educational programs, empower and mentor young girls, and provide safety free from conflict and the threat of gender-based assault.

Learn more: thegirlproject.com

Support a 20-person team of medical professionals providing free surgeries to poor and underserved populations in the Dominican Republic!

Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 2.34.46 PMI’m super excited to share this cause, especially because it comes from a close family member! My aunt is a pediatric recovery room nurse for Banner Health, a non-profit health system in the U.S., based in Phoenix. Banner operates 28 hospitals and several specialized facilities across six states. I know first-hand how many long and tiring hours she spends helping young kids. This year, she was asked to join Banner’s mission team in the Dominican Republic because they are beginning to treat children! But in order to go, she’ll have to purchase and bring all her own medical supplies and cover all of her travel costs. That’s where we come in. There is no minimum amount to donate—and you don’t even have to give money! A simple Facebook share can raise $37!

The problem: According to the 2016 Human Development Report by the United Nations Development Program, in the Dominican Republic, 6 percent of the population (613 thousand people) are multidimensionally poor, while an additional 20.6 percent live near multidimensional poverty (2,115 thousand people).

What Banner Health will do: My aunt Nicole will help perform operations such as tonsillectomies, sinus surgeries, tumor resections, hernia repairs, and many other procedures that these people would not otherwise have the opportunity to receive! She also hopes to bring goodies, toys and candy for her young patients.

Learn more: youcaring.com

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