This is a third donation for an organisation which supports bereaved children in the UK. I like to think that each year a group of children get to attend a workshop where they get to make memory boxes and process some difficult memories.
I have made the rest of my donations this year for humanitarian aid, stemming from thinking I would like to do something for the refugees who have come to Europe, particularly in Calais and Lesvos.
The camp at Calais is less than 90 miles from where I live and it really has no place in Europe as the conditions are terrible. I intend to go for a day or two of rubbish clearing. There are groups who go out regularly who I would join so would be quite safe. I would like to do something direct in Austin's name and this is something that short term volunteers can do to make a difference. I'll keep you posted on my trip!
However the various appeals for financial assistance in the European camps seem to be beset by controversy and politics, as the various groups have grown very quickly in reaction to the crisis. So I have stuck with large charities to ensure the money is used effectively.
Doctors Without Borders
For medical help where ever in the world it is needed. They are present in Calais and Lesvos, offering medical assistance, lifeboats and speaking out to international governments about the situation. They react quickly to humanitarian crisis wherever it is.
Unicef- the uk site is fundraising specifically for child refugees in Syria. It says all donations will be matched by the UK government but not sure if this applies to donations from overseas. http://www.unicef.org.uk/landing-pages/donate-syria
The US site has a more general appeal and says donations are tax deductable. I give you the choice of which seems best/easiest. www.unicefusa.org
I experience such mixed emotions when I receive this email from you.
Admiration, sadness, guilt ....
I pick up my phone, or log onto the PC and I start to research charities so that I can hopefully make an informed decision about my nominations. I have a couple of regular charities that I personally donate on a regular basis, but the 12 days of Austin's Christmas makes me consider new and different causes.
The memories come flooding back whilst I am researching- my Austin was the smartest, brightest little boy.
Personal experience steers me to charities for children with special needs. My stepson has special needs and is unable to take part in many 'normal' activities- this could be due to his physical limitations or a need for specialist/adapted equipment or supervision.
All I know is that look on his face when he is able to join in and the animation in his voice when he tells you about his experiences.
He loves horse riding and climbing, archery and sailing - so I have chosen:
The Newman Holiday Trust to receive $500.00 - this is a specialist children's charity in the UK which arranges activity holidays for 4-16 year olds, giving the children the opportunity to experience a week away in a safe and supported environment
For my 2nd nominated charity, this year I wanted to choose something in Chicago. I love that city and I love to hear about how much Austin came to love it too.
I have found a charity called 'Growing Home' - here is an extract explaining their work:
"Growing Home is Chicago’s leading expert in farm-based training for people with employment barriers. By providing 25 hours per week of paid on-the-job experience and job-readiness training at our farms, plus the support to conquer issues like criminal records, medical needs, child-care, and housing, we have changed the lives of hundreds of workers, and thousands of their family members."
The ethos of this charity made an impact with me - I would like to donate $500.00 to help them continue this incredibly important work.
I would also like to pledge some of my time in 2016 - I am going to volunteer. Not sure what yet, but researching for this has made me think that I have the ability and the option to do more.
Thank you for inspiring me. I love you all.
Austin, I hope I can make you proud