donatin' and all that jazz

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is the gift exchange - finding something to give someone else and, of course, getting things you want as well. But as I get older, I've become more interested in donating during the Christmas season. It makes you feel good inside, to help someone you don't know receive necessities they otherwise don't have access to. For the past couple years I've donated to my local United Way, and this year I have a list of three charities to which I plan to donate for the holidays.

The first is to UNICEF to give children clean water, nutrition or the proper immunization.

The second is to Reverb, which I read about earlier today, which works to green tours and events by famous musicians. I have been to six or seven concerts this year, so I am all about helping tours become greener. As much as I'd love to believe those tour buses run on music notes and audience screams (much like Monstropolis was powered on children screams and laughs), I know they don't. And I certainly don't want the tours to stop.

The third is Charity: Water. They have holiday gifts and the Little Black Box, $24, provides clean water to one person for 20 years. (And you get a snazzy little bracelet.) Safe drinking water is something so easy to take for granted, but so many people just don't have it. I'm sitting here, drinking my filtered water from my Klean Kanteen, and realizing just how lucky I am to be doing so.

Last year I also donated to Take the Walk, Hanson's charity to help children in Africa in different areas. You can choose to put your money toward shoes, clean water, SMS credits for children to be in contact with a doctor, build schools and fight AIDS. Of course I'm biased since I pretty much live for all things Hanson, but I love that they have dedicated themselves to this cause and started this charity in order to make a difference. Before the start of every concert on their last three tours, Hanson have put on one-mile walks near each venue. I finally got to participate on this past tour and it felt great to be "walking for change", as Taylor kept declaring to oncoming cars. They also donate one dollar for every person who walks and have raised over $25,000 so far.

So with these donations, I will certainly have a merrier Christmas, knowing I've helped make a difference to people who don't have anything and to the earth, who needs a little lovin'. I may not make a ton of money, but to the children who don't have shoes or drinking water, I'm Richard Branson. My tiny little heart can't ignore that, and since I like to go crazy on Christmas spending, I might as well put it to something beyond XBox points. (If my brother is reading, you didn't read that!!) And I won't turn this into a plea for you to donate as well, but if you feel that twinge, look around online and find something to which you'll be excited to donate. I started my browsing through Treehugger, who has compiled a list of different green organizations, but of course, there are hundreds of great organizations.

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