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As we all enjoy the holiday season, there is a lot we can all be thankful for. Some of you may be looking to find ways to express those sentiments as a family. Unless you have been living under a rock, you have seen the devastation, pain and loss that many fellow Americans are dealing with. Even though the news vans, cameras and headlines have moved on, the people of Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida, Houston and Las Vegas still need our help.

I spent some time recently on a website called Charity Navigator. This independent site reviews the various charities for things like transparency and accountability, expenses and percentage of donations that actually go to those in need. This site gives a lot of valuable information for charities of all kinds, and you can search based on the “hot topics of the day” in regard to international crises and the devastation that these storms and fires have created. I have chosen one organization for each of the major problems our country faces today. Please feel free to search through the site yourself to find another organization you feel more comfortable with.

Puerto Rico & U.S. Virgin Islands

Project HOPE

www.projecthope.org

Project HOPE ensures that everyone receives the health care they need to reach life's full potential. The group believes that empowering health care workers to deliver expert care when and where it is needed is the key to solving today's most challenging global health issues. They deliver HOPE and health to vulnerable children, mothers and families around the world.

As per their website, in “Puerto Rico medical volunteers continue to provide mobile health clinics to the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Maria working where the need is greatest and access to care most difficult. Volunteers have treated nearly 1,200 patients since arriving on Sept. 30. The Project HOPE Emergency Response team is also distributing 1,500 vials of donated insulin to diabetic patients and partners across the island who are in desperate need of the medication. HOPE has coordinated the delivery of 2,600 water purification kits to a local partner and is providing outreach to families with instructions on the proper usage of the kits. Since each kit can purify up to 3,000 liters of water, which is enough for a family of four up to one year, this donation could provide clean water to more than 10,000 people for a year. Project HOPE has also transported $500,000 of medicines and hygiene kits, through the use of two private aircrafts. The medicines and supplies are being used by HOPE's medical teams working in the still hard to reach interior of the island.”

Florida

The Harry Chapin Food Bank

http://harrychapinfoodbank.org

This organization is shifting from distributing at emergency mobile pantries to replenishing their partner agencies with food, so they can distribute to the local communities and neighborhoods they serve.

According to the group’s website, they have just finished a six-week pledge drive looking for $500,000 in order to “ensure that our neighbors in need receive as much food and support as we can possibly provide. The food bank can turn every dollar donated into $8 worth of food value. The food bank partners with more than 150 agencies in Southwest Florida. So far we've been able to contact about 100 agencies that have been able to open their doors.

The Harry Chapin Food Bank has received and distributed 46 semi-tractor trailer truckloads of disaster relief supplies since Sept. 9. That is equivalent to about 1.85 million pounds of food, water and ice to help provide relief to hurricane victims. And the truckloads are still coming.”

Houston, Texas

Operation USA

www.opusa.org

This group has been on the ground in Houston and the surrounding areas since the day the storm hit. They have been assessing damage, meeting with impacted families and distributing funding. Its website states, “In the months ahead, OpUSA will shift its focus to long-term recovery projects aimed at bolstering health and education. As opportunities allow, we will ship additional recovery materials, such as hospital equipment, and will establish partnerships in overlooked and under-served communities in which there is a high need for recovery support. We thank you for making this work possible.”

Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas Victims’ Fund

www.gofundme.com/

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This is the only organization that was not listed on the Charity Navigator site, as it was created right after the event. In less than a month, they have raised over $11 million, but are short of a $15 million goal. Funds will be used to provide relief and financial support to the victims and families of the horrific Las Vegas mass shooting​.

This is obviously not an exhaustive list. If you want to help and don’t feel a connection to any of these organizations, then find another one that you do feel comfortable with. Our fellow Americans still need our help. Let’s give them something to be thankful for.

Talk to Victor

Victor Alfieri is an avid music fan who has three children with his wife, Stephanie. Connect at Facebook.com/VJAlfieri and @VictorWordkr.

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