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Top 20 Charities for Kids

Everyone feels the tug of good will during the holiday season. All the presents and fun bring to mind those who are less fortunate — those for whom a little help would mean a lot.

Don’t let your good intentions get lost in the shuffle of food, decorations, and shopping. There are so many great causes to get involved with and donating online has never been easier. These organizations provide a variety of opportunities for pitching in and making a difference in the life of a child.

Whether you can donate money, volunteer your time, or blog for a cause, there’s a perfect match for you with one of these organizations that I’ve selected as the Top 20 Charities for Kids.

Click through to change the world!


  • Angel Tree 1 of 20
    Angel Tree
    It all started with Mary Kay Beard, one of America's Most Wanted bank robbers and safe-crackers (safe cracker!). During her stint in a women's prison, she noticed that inmates would wrap up toiletries that churches had donated and give them as presents to their children. Once paroled, Mary Kay completed a fellowship and became involved in prison administration. Her first project? Christmas. She put that keen safe-cracking mind of hers to work and came up with the idea to set up the trees you see in department stores with the angel decorations that represent inmate's children. Take an ornament and donate a gift to a child.
    This program embodies all the best parts of Christmas. The children of inmates have it rough, through no fault of their own. Angel Tree now reaches out to prisoners and their families year-round to restore family bonds and break the generational cycle of crime.
    How You Can Help: Register your church to participate with Angel Tree or donate online.
  • Camfed 2 of 20
    Camfed
    Many girls in rural Africa drop out of school to marry, and some don't even have access to schools. Camfed is changing that. They train teacher mentors, create parent support groups, and donate books, uniforms, and other supplies to help girls in Africa. For example, something as simple as sanitary supplies can prevent a girl from dropping out of school when she gets her period. With an education, young girls in Africa are 3 times less likely to contract AIDS. They will earn 25% more income and raise smaller, healthier families. Camfed is a 4-star charity, according to Charity Navigator, receiving high scores in Accountability and Transparency.
    How You Can Help: Become a Camfed Champion or donate to a specific appeal for help.
  • Children’s Miracle Netork 3 of 20
    Children's Miracle Netork
    The Children's Miracle Network has two simple goals: Help as many children as possible by raising funds for children's hospitals and keep funds in the community in which they were raised to help local children. If you love the idea of helping children locally, this is the perfect place to give. Hospitals in the Children's Miracle Network provide comfort, treatment, and hope to millions of sick kids each year whether they have asthma, a broken arm, or a more serious challenge.
    How You Can Help: It's simple to donate online or volunteer at a local hospital.
  • Cystic Fibrosis Foundation 4 of 20
    Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
    The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is dedicated to finding a cure and they fund more CF research than any other organization. In addition to research, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation extends and enhances the lives of people with CF. There are about 1000 new cases diagnosed every year, usually in kids under 2. It used to be that people with CF didn't live beyond elementary school. But with the help of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, people with the disease are living (better!) into their late 30s.
    How You Can Help: There's a huge variety of volunteer options or you can raise awareness for CF.
  • Donors Choose 5 of 20
    Donors Choose
    Donors Choose is one of my favorite charities. It's basically a Kickstarter program for teachers' projects that need funding. The program encourages teachers to take initiative and it rewards creativity. You can search for a project by subject and track funding of all the projects. It's incredibly heartwarming to read pleas from teachers on behalf of their students and the web interface is just a little addicting. It's like watching your Ebay auctions! Projects are listed by urgency, or you can enter your zip code and help a teacher in your district.
    How You Can Help: Pick a project, any project! This teacher wants frisbees for her kids. Frisbees, guys. We can help.
  • First Book 6 of 20
    First Book
    First Book puts books in the hands of kids in need and it is growing fast and making a difference. How do you spark curiosity and foster a love of reading and learning in children who can't afford books? Books are essential. One student who sat reading his First Book copy of The Lightning Thief under a tree at school said, "This is the best book. It was too noisy at my house and I knew if I came to school I could find a quiet place to finish it." That's how I want kids to feel about books and school. Don't you?
    How You Can Help: Donate online. $50 provides 20 books to give a year of bedtime stories to a family in need.
  • Autism Speaks 7 of 20
    Autism Speaks
    Almost everyone you meet knows someone on the autism spectrum. An estimated 1 out of 54 boys, and 1 in 252 girls, are diagnosed with autism in the United States. Autism Speaks works tirelessly to raise money, promote research, and advocate and enrich the lives of people with Autism. Autism Speaks promotes early intervention and behavorial therapies to improve outcomes for children with this disorder.
    How You Can Help: Give time or money. You can even walk for Autism Speaks!
  • Toys for Tots 8 of 20
    Toys for Tots
    If you love a man in uniform, you'll want to get involved with Toys for Tots. Over the years, the Marines have established close working relationships with social welfare agencies, churches and other local community agencies through the Toys for Tots program. You've seen the donation bins around town. This is a great one to get your kids involved with because they can buy an actual toy and place it in a bin for a needy child. It's a tangible way to teach kids to give.
    How You Can Help: Find your local toy drop location or host your own toy drive.
  • Homeless Children’s Education Fund 9 of 20
    Homeless Children's Education Fund
    Started by a science teacher in Pennsylvania, The Homeless Children's Education Fund provides direct educational support to children who are underserved, underrepresented, abused, neglected, and homeless. They work hard to get learning centers and resource libraries into homeless shelters, which makes so much sense in terms of breaking the cycle of homelessness. Oh, my small grinchy heart just grew 3 sizes.
    How You Can Help: There are many convenient ways to donate or you can organize a fundraising event.
  • Reach the Children 10 of 20
    Reach the Children
    Reach the Children provides underprivileged children opportunities to become self-reliant by strengthening families and communities. They promote sustainable development, which is something we can all get behind. Reach the Children believes that good health, education, and employment are the three things families need in order to live better lives. I agree —these are the 3 things I want for my own family.
    How You Can Help: You can actually go on an African expedition, if you're into that, or you can simply donate.
  • Make-A-Wish Foundation 11 of 20
    Make-A-Wish Foundation
    You've likely heard of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. That's because it's a top notch charity that changes lives by giving hope, strength and joy to children with life-threatening medical conditions. Who wouldn't want to literally make a sick child's wish come true? Whether it's a wish to meet "real ballerinas" or have a hot tub, the Make-A-Wish foundation gives you a way to do something a little bit magical for a child who is hurting.
    How You Can Help: You can donate your frequent flier miles, or a variety of "treasures," such as building supplies, luggage, or stuffed animals.
  • Operation Smile 12 of 20
    Operation Smile
    I guess I should be grateful that I can take my kids' smiles for granted. But for millions of children born with cleft palates and other facial deformities, their smile is a source of shame. Operation Smile is a mobilized force of medical professionals and caring hearts who provide safe, effective reconstructive surgery for children born with facial deformities. They build self-sufficiency worldwide and continually educate and train local medical volunteers so children can continue to receive the care they need. Consider this: Your gift of $240 pays for a 45-minute facial surgery that will change a life forever.
    How You Can Help: Give monthly or volunteer your time.
  • March of Dimes 13 of 20
    March of Dimes
    The March of Dimes was established by FDR to fight polio. Now the March of Dimes fights to prevent premature babies and birth defects. They fund research on birth defects, education for mothers, and support for families with babies in the NICU. This is a long-standing charity with a great reputation. The March of Dimes saves babies.
    How You Can Help: Volunteer or donate.
  • Primary Children’s Medical Center 14 of 20
    Primary Children's Medical Center
    Why should you give to Primary Children's Medical Center? It serves children from Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, and Montana and it is the only Pediatric Trauma Center serving the Intermountain West. It's 1 of 9 sites in the Pediatric Heart Network and the only one located in the west. Translation? You may never need it, but if you do you'll be so glad it's there. The good folks at Primary Children's Medical Center live by a simple philosophy, "The child first and always."
    How You Can Help: Provide charity care, medical research, bereavement therapy, music therapy, art therapy, and toys for the hospital playroom by donating online.
  • Discover Books 15 of 20
    Discover Books
    Discover Books wants to get your old books out of the landfill and into the hands of people who need them. It's a great organization that values the environment, sustainability, and literacy. Discover Books picks books up from thrift stores, library discards, collection bins and curbside drop-offs and redistributes, recycles, or re-sells the books. It's an easy way to clear out some clutter and do a little good in the world.
    How You Can Help: Find a donation center online.
  • Shot at LIfe 16 of 20
    Shot at LIfe
    Every child deserves a shot at a healthy life. But kids are disabled or killed every year by vaccine-preventable diseases like pneumonia, diarrhea, measles, and polio. Polio has recently reemerged in areas that had been polio-free for years and measles still kills an estimated 450 people each day—the majority of whom are young children. Ugh. We can prevent this devastation with immunizations. Shot at LIfe is working hard to get kids all over the world immunized.
    How You Can Help: It's never been easier to help! Spread the word through social media. Or get involved by writing letters.
  • Operation Warm 17 of 20
    Operation Warm
    There are children who lost everything in Hurricane Sandy. They need something to keep them warm, STAT. In fact, children all over the country struggle to keep warm every winter. Operation Warm addresses the immediate and critical need for appropriate clothing during the cold winter months. They've been giving the gift of warmth since 1998 by giving the coat off their backs to over a million children.
    How You Can Help: A one-time donation of $20 will keep a child warm this winter. Or you can raise awareness by spreading the word about A Night Without Warmth.
  • Team Diabetes 18 of 20
    Team Diabetes
    If you're looking for an active way to get involved and do some good for a great cause, Team Diabetes organizes marathons all over the world in order to raise money for diabetes research and treatment. Kid Scoop's own Buzz Bishop raises money for Team Diabetes and has run races in Iceland, Easter Island, and Rio de Janeiro.
    How You Can Help: Sign up to run for the cause. Join Buzz in Edinburgh 2013! Or you can pledge to support runners like Buzz.
  • Pennies By the Inch 19 of 20
    Pennies By the Inch
    Pennies By the Inch has been operating for 90 years and directly serves the charity patients of the Intermountain West's only trauma center for children, Primary Children's Hospital. Dedicated physicians donate their services if needed so that uninsured children don't have to go without the care they need.
    How You Can Help: Donate online. No administrative or fund-raising costs will be taken out of your donation.
  • Alliance for Children Everywhere 20 of 20
    Alliance for Children Everywhere

Lead Image Credit: Morguefile

More of my writing at Kid Scoop:

Hang in There! Here’s What You Have to Look Forward to When Your Kids Get Older

Stock Up For Sick Days

How to Be a Buzz Kill Parent

 

Read more from me at Every Day I Write the Book

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