Once upon a time (1984), in a land far, far away (England), there lived a thin, dyspeptic pop star named Bob Geldof. Now, Bob was a good pop star, but at the time, fairly unknown in world-saving circles. Then, one day, he happened to stumble across a BBC report on the famine in Ethopia, where hundreds of thousands of poverty-stricken Africans were dying for lack of food and medicine. Shaken by the conditions of these poor, oppressed people, Bob decided to do something about it.
Using all his thin, dyspeptic pop star powers, young Geldof assembled a mighty group of famous U.K. musicians (Bono, Sting, Paul McCartney), not-quite-as-famous U.K. musicians (Jody Watley, Kool and the Gang), soon-to-be-infamous U.K. musicians (George Michael, Boy George), and dubbed them Band Aid. Together, they recorded “Do They Know it’s Christmas,” the most powerful charity Christmas song since “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (which, as everyone knows, paid for Rudolph’s therapy following decades of emotional abuse by his fellow sleigh-pullers).
Ultimately, the accomplishments of “Do They Know it’s Christmas” are too numerous to mention, so I’ll attempt to sum. It:
A) Rocked the airwaves unlike any holiday tune before it,
B) Gave humanity the worst Christmas lyric of all time (“Tonight, thank god it's them instead of you.") and
C) Raised a humongous amount of cash for people who really needed it
Even now, 23 years later, Simon LeBon and various members of Bananarama are inspiring generations of Kmart shoppers and light FM listeners to consider donating to charity. And that’s what’s beautiful about “Do They Know it’s Christmas” - it’s an enduring reminder that innocent people are still suffering. While many of us are lucky enough to have families to visit, warm places to sleep, and good food to eat during the holidays, lots of folks don’t. And it’s important we do what we can, like young (now old) Geldof before us.
So, this Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Solstice or whatever, consider lending some time and/or hard-earned cash to charitable organizations around the globe. It will make many people very happy, and happy is good.
In fact, here are a few ideas to getchoo started. They’ve all been listed on the site before, and most have either been reported on fairly extensively or rated by Charity Navigator.
FEED THE TROOPS
Fulfill a soldier’s request for supplies, food, and ways to pass the time.
If you’d specifically like to send a care package, the aptly named Operation Care Package is the way to go. Check out their FAQ for more info, or just peruse the site, which is intuitive and informative
Treat the Troops
Jeanette Cram has baked over 640,000 cookies for soldiers overseas. Help her fund the effort.
FEED YOUR NEIGHBORS
The Food Trust’s Supermarket Campaign
Inner-city citizens need fresh food. The Supermarket Campaign is here to help.
Food Bank for New York City
FBNYC helps hungry Big Apple-ites in each of the five boroughs.
Fund the activity/teacher of your choosing. I linked to the “food” ideas here, but really the whole site is worth a look.
The Society of St. Andrew
SoSA focuses on the distribution of healthy, inexpensive food (with an emphasis on produce) to hungry kids and families nationwide.
The mother ship to hundreds of smaller food banks, Second Harvest feeds millions of hungry U.S. citizens a year.
God’s Love We Deliver
This is a tri-state area based volunteer group that buys, cooks, and delivers meals to seriously ill men, women, children.
Your local house of worship
Peruse the activities at your local shrine to see how you can pitch in.
FEED THE WORLD