Volunteering & Charities
Giving back to the community is very important to me. I support many charities, which I will list below, but giving doesn’t necessarily mean giving money. I give time to good causes that I believe in and, regardless of your income, you too can give time. Make it a family event, and you’ll find it a meaningful way to work together.

Here are some charities I support:

Doctors without Borders
This is my favorite charity. Doctors without Borders does not have any religious or political leanings; they are comprised of doctors and nurses who go to the parts of the world where they are needed after natural disasters, wars, and other calamities have stressed the local medical services beyond their limits. One of the reasons I support this charity is that I once saw them in action. Truly amazing people, Doctors Without Borders have recently gone to work in Haiti after the earthquake and are volunteering medical help in Libya and other countries where the people are under attack by their own governments.

Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo was just arrested (6/17/11) for trying to take action against oil drilling in the Arctic. Greenpeace takes action on many fronts to help the environment. Best of all, you can sign petitions and letters online that will go to your government officials supporting the causes you believe in. My favorite one right now is aimed at saving the remaining Sumatran tigers. Yes, Greenpeace is political: but remember that we only have one planet, and whatever our politics may be we all live together on the earth, so why not preserve it for us and those to come?

Surfrider Foundation
As a South Bay native this is an organization dear to my heart, as they began as an organization of surfers dedicated to the environmental integrity of our Southern California beaches. They support coastal access for all Californians, oppose offshore drilling, and help us protect our beaches. “Pay where you play” is their initiative that speaks to locals who want to donate money that will go directly to the beaches that we visit. They also help sponsor International Surfing Day, June 30th.

Heal the Bay
Dedicated to cleaning up and preserving the Santa Monica Bay, this organization sponsors beach clean-ups—a good thing to volunteer for. They’re another organization that is dedicated to our local beaches and provides education in how to preserve our natural resources. Volunteer or ask one of their speakers to come to your class, business, or organization to learn how each of us can have a positive effect on the environment.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has local chapters where you can volunteer to help mistreated and discarded pets. During the recession many people have had to give up their beloved pets because they can’t afford to take care of them anymore. June is Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month, so if you’re thinking of getting a cat, now’s the time to do so: by adopting one from your local SPCA shelter. One of the many helpful things you can buy from them is a disaster preparedness kit for animals. What a great idea!

If you want to learn more about eco-tourism and volun-tourism, see my article “Magical Eco-Tourism” in the 2012 Llewellyn Witches' Companion: An Almanac for Everyday Living.