I always want to be more "involved" in charities, but my commitment usually winds up being limited to a small donation check, at best. The main (only?) cause I care about is animals, but you might be surprised how many animal-welfare groups are out there -- and how quickly they find you when you get on the mailing list for just one of them. It can be overwhelming.
Red Fraggle and I have been trying to localize our efforts lately. We did the Humane Society Walk for the Animals a couple of months back, and she signed us both up to do some volunteer work at Homeward Trails, a DC-area pet-rescue organization (and cool pet-supply shop -- PetMAC -- any local animal folks should definitely check it out). Last week they put out a call for someone to volunteer to transport two dogs on Saturday from Homeward Trails' northern Virginia location up to a vet in Maryland and back down to Virginia to meet their foster parents. Red encouraged me to do it, and said she would have accompanied me if she weren't going away for the weekend. I needed that push; sometimes even when the opportunity to help out falls right into my lap, I don't have enough drive to seize it. So I replied and said I'd do it, and the people at Homeward Trails were very grateful.
I played chauffeur to two sweet doggies -- Kitty and Poppa. You all know I'm a cat person, but I do love dogs too, even if I have less experience with them. Here's a fun fact I and my car Ella learned: dogs shed. A lot.
The hours I spent de-fuzzing and de-doggy-smelling Ella on Sunday were made well worthwhile by the warm-fuzzies I got from helping out. Kitty and Poppa got along fine -- better than I would expect a young female Lab/Pit Bull and an old blind male husky to get along. They went to two sets of foster parents (who might wind up being permanent parents if it works out) who seemed very nice and very happy with their new charges. I developed a real soft spot for Poppa, since he's a senior citizen and blind and has trouble getting around, not to mention he's my favorite dog breed, and he turned out to have some ailments discovered by the vet that require further treatment. But his new mom is very experienced with dogs and particularly blind dogs, and she says her family loves Poppa and Poppa is settling in great at their house.
Sometimes thinking about all the bad things that happen to innocent animals in this world gets me so sad that I know if I don't stop dwelling on it, I might never come out of the funk. So I do small things to try and feel at least a tiny bit better about it. Seeing how many people got involved in the rescue of these two pooches was encouraging. And hey, if you're looking for a unique holiday gift for someone who has everything, consider a gift donation to benefit animals. Like I said, there are more animal-welfare organizations than I can count, but here are just a few sites where you can purchase such a gift: IFAW's animalgift.org, WWF's gift center, PETA gift memberships, and the Humane Society's gift donation page.