The Mayan Apocalypse has come and gone, and we're all still here! There's nothing like almost losing everything to make you truly appreciate all that you have. Our renewed sense of gratitude, combined with the holiday spirit of kindness and benevolence has inspired us to ask, "how can we help make a difference this holiday season?" We've rounded up a list of charitable causes that we think are worthy of everyone's attention, time, and generosity.
The Pajama Program has received praise from the likes of NBC's The TODAY Show and The Oprah Winfrey Show. Donate new pajamas and new books so that children in need can have warm clothes to sleep in and an opportunity to learn and read — think of all the bedtime stories! Hold "pajama parties" where each guest is invited to bring a new set of pajamas and/or one book to donate, and have fun with your friends to support a great cause.
North Shore Animal League America
Having already taken in over 400 animals since the opening of their emergency animal shelter, the Hurricane Sandy Animal League (started by North Shore) has continued to provide rescue and relief efforts to the animals and people affected by the storm. Help out by making a donation, adopting a pet, or even offering your car.
New York Cares Annual Coat Drive
The New York Cares Annual Coat Drive has gained well-deserved recognition for its immense success. The drive raised 78,000 coats last winter and is striving to reach 200,000 coats this year. The need for warm coats is particularly great with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Public collection sites are open now through December 31.
Respond and Rebuild
Get down and dirty by helping out in the Rockaways – picking through flood-damaged residences, throwing out couches, tearing down walls, and more. Meet those affected by the storm and build friendships to last. Volunteers must be older than sixteen.
Operation Santa Claus
If 30 Rock can serve as a legitimate example – and we definitely believe it can – it's undeniably thrilling whether you're on the giving or receiving end of this charitable cause. Answer children's letters to Santa and make their wishes really come true.
Donate food, funds, or time to this important cause. The organization not only provides meals to the city's hungry, but assists residents affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals
Dedicated to making NYC a no-kill community by 2015, this non-profit charity works to prevent the euthanasia of hundreds of thousands of animals, find homes for stray cats and dogs, and promote trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs to reduce the city's feral populations. Donate your time, foster an animal, or make a cage comforter — blankets for the animals to sleep on.
Photo via Respond and Rebuild, Pajama Program