Mission Possible

By Candice Jones / November 22, 2011

The holidays are a time for remembering those in need, those in trouble and those without a voice. We can take a lesson from Hollywood stars-turned-activists and be our own stars. Here are four feel-good ways to take your place amongst the stars. Spoiler alert: both halves of “Brangelina” made the list.

charity: water
Mission: “Bringing clean and
safe drinking water to people in developing nations.”
Get this…100% of your donation will go straight to freshwater projects. In its five years, charity: water has raised $40 million and funded more than 4,282 projects. Donations are used for drilling wells, building water filters for natural springs, installing rainwater harvesting systems and other programs to build stronger, safer and healthier communities. Beyond the health and sanitation, clean water can provide freedom from the time and risks that are associated with gathering water (water that is most likely not safe to drink). The charity also has a feature called “Dollars to Projects” which helps track the timing of donations and the projects that they coordinate with. Then, when that project is complete, donors receive a report of the finished product — making the donation more personal and the connection to the cause stronger. Charity: water is a favorite of Summer Rayne Oakes, a model/activist known for being the “world’s first eco-model.” charitywater.org

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Mission: “Lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide.”
At most recent count, there were 10.4 million refugees in the world. UNHCR works in more than 120 countries to assist those refugees forced out of their communities by circumstances of conflict, oppression or environmental disaster. Almost half of the people under the care of UNHCR are children, and the organization provides protection, food, water, shelter, health care and education to those children. The group is committed to advocacy as well as tangible long-term solutions to help the refugees and other displaced citizens rebuild their lives. This cause is championed by Angelina Jolie, who has visited more than 20 countries since 2001 as an ambassador for UNHCR. unhcr.org

National Resources Defense Council  (NRDC)
Mission: “To safeguard
the Earth: its people, its plants and animals and the natural systems on which all life depends.”
Curb global warming, create a clean energy future, prevent pollution, defend endangered wildlife and protect wild places — sounds like a dream. But it’s NRDC. They have more than 40 years of experience and 1.3 million members and activists to support  its mission. Funds support  activism on behalf of polar bears affected by global warming, parts of the Rocky Mountain region being threatened by industrialization, as well as other voiceless victims in the United States and abroad. In the spirit of giving, you can use NRDC’s “Green Gifts” to both give to the organization and to your friends and family. Donate a small or large sum of money representing the cause of your choice (such as the Buffalo Babysitter gift, helping protect the buffalo herd of Yellowstone), then send a card announcing the donation made in a friend’s honor. That would make you a friend of The Sundance Kid and long-time NRDC trustee Robert Redford. nrdc.org

Make It Right
Mission: “Be a catalyst
for redevelopment of the Lower 9th Ward, by building a neighborhood comprised of safe and healthy homes.”
The name says it all. And the U.S. Green Building Council says that Make It Right is building the largest, greenest neighborhood of single-family homes in the country. After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the Lower 9th Ward neighborhood was devastated. Two years later, little progress had been made. So in 2007, Brad Pitt spearheaded Make It Right. Since then the organization has built 75 homes, well on their way to the goal to build 150 homes. And every home is built to the highest standard of green architecture, LEED Platinum. The homes are built with sustainable products, energy-saving appliances and storm-resistant features include porous concrete, rooftop access and elevation of at least five feet off the ground. Make It Right is also focused on re-building the community in the Lower 9th. Brad & Co. are inviting residents back as fast as they can build them safe homes and including the country’s most technologically advanced and eco-friendly playground. makeitrightnola.org

Candice Jones
Candice Jones

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