Hunger: it’s a daunting problem the world over. Even though I was eager to research and write on this topic, when I started to dig into it, I got more and more overwhelmed with how broad and profound the issue … Continue reading
We have a 2-year old goldendoodle affectionately known as “Sir Riley Flannigan.” Flannigan for his apricot color, Riley’s a mix of poodle and golden retriever that’s taken a place in my life and heart I could never have imagined.
My family had outside cats and dogs when I was growing up on the farm, but until Riley (who doesn’t shed), my allergies kept me from owning an animal as an adult. Now, sharing every day with such a loving, sensitive, energetic, and smart dog that has comforted me through sadness and sickness– I can’t imagine what kind of person could harm or hurt any companion animal.
We know animals love and remember us, and feel pain and fear. Their eyes and expressions tell us what they can’t say. They’re companions who watch over and protect us. Dogs, in particular, give many humans a new “leash” on life—they guide the blind and visually impaired, improve the lives of autistic children, save diabetics, and give independence to people with disabilities and veterans.
There’s no question our pets miss us when we’re gone—watch Bugaboo show and tell his owner, Lieutenant Gary Daughtery, how happy he is to see him after six months overseas:
Honestly, the many types of animal abuse and cruelty—what we know, see, read and hear about—can be overwhelming. I sometimes turn away from TV ads and scroll quickly past Facebook posts because they get to me. And I feel pretty helpless to stop all the abuse. There are a lot of issues to tackle.
- Commercial breeding and puppy mills that put profits ahead of animals’ well-being
- Animals used in research even when they don’t provide useful information
- Entertainment animals abused or exploited
- Dog Fighting Rings even though it is illegal
- Farm animals needing protection from inhumane care and practices
- Domestic violence perpetrators injure, maim or kill their victims pets to psychologically control and silence them—more than 70 percent of victims
How do we move past anger and overwhelm about how animals are treated to help save them? We can start with what we see every day and be their voice—using our passion to take action.
Learn and Recognize Signs of Pet Abuse
Pay attention to the animals around you. Are there any dogs you’ve seen chained up for hours on end? Have you ever walked your dog and witnessed another aggressive, out of control one? Or gone by a house where there are so many animals you worry about their care? These could be signs of neglect or violence.
- Neglect is denying an animal adequate food, water, shelter (a dog house), medical care (injuries left untreated), clean area, socialization (is the animal aggressive or timid when approached by owner), or chained up in a yard.
- Violence is deliberately torturing, beating, or mutilating an animal.
Speak Up: Report Abuse
Almost all acts of animal violence or neglect are punishable by law. While animal cruelty laws vary from state to state, 49 states have laws that contain felony provisions. (South Dakota is the only one that doesn’t). Be prepared: Search online at Pets911 or PetFinder’s database to find a local animal control department, animal shelter or humane society in your area—and program the number into your cell phone.
If you suspect abuse or neglect of any animal, report it to your local police department or area animal control agency. If you’re traveling, call the local police department (911).
If you know of dog or cock fighting, call The Humane Society hotline at 1-877-TIP-HSUS and report it.
Donate—Support Organizations Working to Stop the Abuse
According to the ASPCA, every 60 seconds an animal is abused. Put your money where your heart is, and give for the education, protection, and care of animals. (Consider an ongoing monthly gift.) If you don’t know where to start:
- American Humane Association
- Animal Legal Defense Fund
- Animal Rescue Corps
- Best Friends Animal Society
- Born Free USA
- Performing Animal Welfare Society
- Pit Bull Rescue Central
- The Humane Society of the United States
While animal issues may seem staggering and even depressing, you and I can take action to make life better for them—to end suffering and save these amazing creatures, one by one. And the next time I sit with Riley or get a doggie kiss, I’ll feel good knowing I’m doing something to help precious creatures like him.
Super Typhoon Haiyan slammed into six central islands of the Philippines Friday. With sustained winds of 195 miles per hour and wind gusts that reached over 230 miles per hour, Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda) may be the deadliest natural disaster in the nation’s history. It is one of the most intense typhoons ever recorded, leaving massive destruction and killing an estimated 10,000 people. Another 600,000 more people have no place to live.
Entire towns, villages and homes on the Eastern seaboard were ravaged, swept away by the typhoon’s winds and huge waves. Interior Secretary Manual Roxas told Reuters, “From a helicopter, you can see the extent of devastation. From the shore and moving a kilometer inland, there are no structures standing. It’s horrific.”
The stories of children snatched from parent’s arms by the force of the wind and people carried away by rushing water are heart wrenching. We are only beginning to know the details and understand the full extent of the storm. In Typhoon Haiyan’s aftermath, rescue workers are having a hard time getting through to people who are desperately trying to survive.
Charities have quickly responded to provide emergency support, food and clean water, medicine, shelter and more. Please donate now to organizations sending urgently-needed aid to help children and survivors:
- Action Against Hunger
- All Hands Volunteers
- American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
- American Red Cross
- AmeriCares Foundation
- Catholic Relief Services
- Center for Disaster Philanthropy
- Child Fund International
- Children International
- Concern Worldwide
- Convoy of Hope
- Direct Relief International
- Doctors Without Borders
- Friends of the World Food Program
- Habitat for Humanity International
- International Medical Corps
- International Rescue Committee
- Lutheran World Relief
- MAP International
- Matthew 25: Ministries
- Medical Ministry International
- Medical Teams International
- Mercy Corps
- Operation USA
- Oxfam America
- Plan International
- Salvation Army
- Samaritan’s Purse
- Save the Children Federation
- ShelterBox USA
- Stop Hunger Now
- United States Fund for UNICEF
- Water Missions International
- World Society for the Protection of Animals
- World Vets – International Relief for Animals
Starting on September 9, the state of Colorado received a huge amount of rain, causing intense flooding and massive amounts of damage. Flood waters cover almost 200 miles from North to South and affect 17 counties. A state of emergency was declared, authorizing federal search and rescue teams, and supplies be sent to the area. The devastation, though, is far-reaching:
- Nearly 19,000 homes were damaged, and more than 15,000 were destroyed.
- 1,750 people and 300 pets were rescued by air and ground. Six people were killed.
- 5,250 gallons of crude oil spilled into the South Platte River when storage tanks in Milliken were damaged.
- 200 miles of state highways and 50 bridges were destroyed.
Quick repairs are absolutely critical, since winter weather will make highway work far more difficult. Please donate now to organizations helping Colorado recover:
- American Red Cross – supplying food, shelter, and relief items such as clean up kits, rakes, tarps, shovels, flashlights, gloves, coolers, comfort kits, and insect repellant.
- Foothills United Way – established the ‘Foothills Flood Relief Fund’ to provide needed health and human services to those affected by the flooding in Boulder and Broomfield counties.
- Salvation Army – deploying mobile canteens, and is providing hundreds of thousands of meals to displaced people.
- Save the Children – working with American Red Cross to create “Child-Friendly Spaces” in evacuation centers to ease the trauma on children.
- Weld County Humane Society - providing assistance to the more than 300 displaced pets rescued by air and ground.
On May 20, a massive tornado destroyed parts of Oklahoma City and Moore, Oklahoma, killing 24 people—including seven children. With your help, organizations like the Red Cross and Food Bank of Oklahoma provided immediate disaster relief to people affected.
As relief efforts continue, the recovery process begins. After a week, victims of the tornado are coming to grips with the loss of their homes, along with all their personal belongings. The twister caused up to $5 billion in insured damage, and 1,200 homes were completely destroyed.
While it could be easy to let this disaster fade in our minds as media coverage wanes, rebuilding will take quite awhile. This tornado flattened entire blocks of homes, two schools and a hospital. Imagine losing everything you own in a few short minutes—that’s exactly the reality many people face.
Help the children, families and the community of Moore, Oklahoma rebuild ”normal” life, and donate now to charities working for their recovery. As more information becomes available, we’ll continue to update this list:
- Adopt a Classroom – helping teachers and students at Plaza Towers and Briarwood Elementary Schools rebuild their classrooms.
- AmeriCares – assessing and addressing long term health needs.
- Architecture for Humanity – working with local and regional construction professionals to support the rebuilding.
- Habitat for Humanity - seeking help with long-term rebuilding efforts and aid for families who need safe, affordable places to live.
- Matthew: 25 Ministries – continuing to support the families and people of Moore as long as it’s needed.
- Operation Blessing International – working with The Home Depot to dispatch a construction unit, mobile command center, trucks with tools and supplies, and a team of construction foremen to Moore.
- Operation USA – making small grants (as funds allow) to community-based organizations as they rebuild.
- Samaritan’s Purse – focusing on cleaning and repairing damaged homes.
- Save the Children – providing recovery support for children and families.
- Team Rubicon – assisting with home repair and rebuilding.
A violent, massive tornado struck the Oklahoma City suburbs with vengeance Monday, May 20. In what is described as one of the most destructive tornadoes in recent history, the tornado, nearly 2 miles wide with wind speeds of up to 200 miles per hour, left extensive damage and lives that are forever changed in its wake.
As details continue to emerge in the tornado’s aftermath, President Obama has declared it a major disaster and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts.
Homes, schools and businesses were leveled in Moore, a community of about 55,000 people. The tornado was on the ground for about 40 minutes, leaving behind a debris field 20 miles long and several miles wide. Two elementary schools, Plaza Towers Elementary and Briarwood Elementary, were directly hit and destroyed.
Close to 200 people are being treated for their injuries, including 70 children. Families have been ripped apart and their homes no longer exist. Across the country, hearts are heavy with the loss of so many young lives.
Open your heart and give now—with a one-time donation or a monthly recurring gift—to organizations providing emergency aid. Your donation will help residents receive the shelter, food, relief supplies and emotional support they need today:
I’ve been having great difficulty dealing with the horror that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School. My kids are often in Sandy Hook for sports and other activities, and I have spent many weekends on the sidelines of the soccer fields directly behind the school.
Newtown is almost identical to my town of Weston, Connecticut, so it is very hard for me to let go of the horror by rationalizing to myself that it is far away or such a different type of community than my own. This trauma is deeper for all of us because the reality is that this could have happened anywhere and to any of us. That is what is most profoundly frightening about this event.
I have a 7 year old who is always curious, and he came home from school on Friday asking a lot of questions. After asking all the main questions, he paused and asked, “How did the kids know what to do when their teacher died?” He was obviously putting himself directly into that situation. I am very sad he has to think about these things at such an early age. As he was going to bed that night he asked, “Does God make these bad people?” I had to explain that everyday, we all wake up and have to make many decisions that can make us “good” or “bad” for that moment.
Every night now when I put him to bed, I first get a chill of realization that he could have been in that 1st grade classroom, and then I give a grateful hug that he is still here to tuck in.
It is almost impossible to comprehend the depth of tragedy and anguish that will always be a part of the Newtown community. Life is so precious—and at the same time, it can be unfair and unpredictable.
While our hearts are broken for the victims and all of those affected by this senseless tragedy, the healing process must begin. There are many nonprofits that are currently supporting the town with: cleaning up the old school, setting up the new school, providing health services to residents in the community, supporting the firefighters, supplying aid for the memorial services, and offering ongoing activities to help the kids heal. To find out more and how to help Newtown, here’s an article that gives several ways you can be supportive.
A few charities providing the community with services that you can donate to:
My personal belief is that we all must put a little bit of goodness back into the world and do what we can to overcome the horror by being kind to those around us. In addition to helping Newtown directly, random acts of kindness should be part of our daily routine to spread goodness. More than something we do in response to Ann Curry’s tweet…something we make part of our everyday life.
—Kendall Webb, Executive Director
“Frankenstorm,” a combination of Hurricane Sandy, an early winter storm in the West, and arctic air from the North, has caused incalculable damage in the Caribbean and across the East Coast of the United States. Residents from Northern Canada to Bermuda are caught in the never-before-experienced aftermath of flooding, power outages, fires and devastation. Cities are struggling to supply basic services and restore order.
Give now—with a one-time donation or monthly recurring gift—so charities can get residents the help they need. Here is a list of charities on the ground, working, right now:
- American Red Cross — Providing shelter and supplies. During the first day of the storm, Red Cross had already deployed 1,300 disaster workers and had 160 emergency vehicles ready to respond.
- AmeriCares — Delivering medical aid and shelter supplies.
- ASPCA — Providing shelter and food for thousands of animals.
- City Harvest— Providing food to people in the areas hardest hit.
- Direct Relief International— Supporting the immediate needs of those affected by working with local partners best situated to assess, respond, and prepare for long-term recovery.
- Doctors Without Borders— Treating patients on the spot in New York and New Jersey.
- Habitat for Humanity— Rebuilding, repairing and cleaning up in the hardest hit areas.
- Humane Society — Supplying shelter and food for pets.
- Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City— Identifying immediate aid needs, including food, water and hygiene supplies, as well as long-term relief and restoration efforts.
- Operation USA — Sending emergency, shelter and cleaning supplies to affected areas, in addition to helping health clinics restore services.
- Samaritan’s Purse — Sending staff, equipment and volunteers to three of the affected areas on the East Coast.
- Save the Children—Reuniting children with their families, providing child-friendly shelter.
- United Way of America— Addressing recovery needs in communities that FEMA has declared disaster areas.
- World Vision —Supplying flood clean-up kits, personal hygiene items, and emergency food kits.
For more charities that offer help to US disaster victims, search the JustGive Guide.
I am reminded daily just how small our world can be. Most recently, an earthquake on the other side of the globe could have contaminated the fish I eat for dinner or the California coastal water I swim in. Japanese trading delays affected the lines of iPad impatience outside our local Apple stores—providing a front row seat to how connected our modern world is and how faraway disasters can have ripple effects that touch us in unexpected ways.
Seemingly back to back, a stream of disasters have headlined the US media: Haiti, The Gulf Coast oil spill, earthquake and nuclear contamination in Japan, tornadoes in the South – and now the horn of Africa drought. The UN has declared famine in several regions of war-torn Somalia during the continent’s worst drought in more than 60 years. This is a dire prognosis, given the limited aid available/allowed by the current al-Shabab regime and the mass migration of people fleeing to neighboring countries for refuge that may not exist.
Not as many people have responded to the Somali famine as previous disasters or requests for aid. Perhaps we feel helpless, that our dollars don’t make a difference, or that we’ve donated to other causes and are already stretched thin. In the meantime, 3.2 million people, nearly half the population of Somalia, need immediate life saving assistance. To date, more than 29,000 children have already died and another 640,000 are malnourished.
While living abroad, I participated in the 40-Hour Famine with World Vision Australia, where I raised money by not eating for 40 hours. It was a real life feeling of what it would be like to live and function without sustenance – luckily one that ended after a mere 2 days.
Millions of people both domestically and abroad are not so fortunate.
I am immediately struck by the current crisis in Africa and consider it to be a GLOBAL concern and priority that children are dying of starvation in a world where there is and should be enough food for everyone. We all need to be involved, and take it personally.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Support charities providing assistance on the ground:
- Action Against Hunger
- HelpAge USA
- International Medical Corps
- International Rescue Committee
- Mercy Corps
- Operation USA
- Oxfam America
- Save the Children
- US Fund for UNICEF
>> Start a charity registry and do your own famine fundraising!
– Michelle Koffler, Marketing Coordinator
Living on the West Coast where earthquakes are a normal part of growing up, I imagine what it would be like if the disaster that struck Japan happened here. What if I was separated from my family and had no way to know what’s going on, no way to communicate, and was alone and lost? As a mother, I immediately know how desperate I’d feel if I was separated from my little girl. How would I find her? How would I know she is ok?
Although we don’t know how many areas have access to the Internet in the coastal areas hit by the tsunami, Google’s Person Finder: 2011 Japan Earthquake is helping find missing people. So is the Family Links website from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Watching updates from international news programs, I noticed Brazil has the second largest population of Japanese people outside of Japan. There are thousands of people there without any news or contact from their Japanese friends and family. So Person Finder and the ICRC site are helping people all over the world – who are relieved to know their loved ones are safe, even if they can’t yet speak or connect in any other way. I’m thankful that technology can at least ease minds across the oceans in its own small way.
Staggering disaster damage
Although Japan was well prepared for an earthquake, there was “next to nothing” the country could do to prepare for the magnitude of destruction this earthquake and tsunami caused.
The number of people affected is hard to fathom. The most recent disaster figures from Reuters say that more than 440,000 people have been evacuated. Over 850,000 households are still without electricity in near-freezing weather—and at least 1.5 million households don’t have running water. According to CNN over 8,200 people are confirmed dead and sadly, at least 13,000 more missing.
Rescue and relief help
This is a time when the people of Japan need help from every resource and every donation that we can give. Despite an ever-growing death toll, there is some hope. Teams like the Los Angeles County Fire urban search and rescue teams are in Japan right now offering their skills to find survivors. And the story and photo of this four-month-old girl who had been separated from her parents for three days and was saved by the Japanese Defense Force touches our hearts.
Save the Children estimates at least 100,000 children have been affected by the disasters; many who have suffered profound losses. They are working to bring a sense of normality back into these children’s lives. Direct Relief International has worked with the Japanese American Citizens League to provided $400,000 that was sent to Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AAR Japan), a 31-year-old leading Japanese nonprofit organization. This donation allows AAR Japan to continue its relief efforts, which are focused on persons with disabilities and elderly persons affected by the disaster. They have teams providing essential nonfood and food supplies.
Welfare groups are scrambling to rescue helpless animals. Access to affected areas makes the job more challenging, and it’s another urgent need to help cold, hungry and injured animals or give shelter to those being left behind. Many rescue and animal care organizations are working to make a difference, including: International Fund for Animal Welfare, Inc. and the Humane Society of the United States. This video from GlobalAnimal.org shows a dog bringing help to an injured friend, a glimpse of compassion in the midst of tragedy.
It is hard to know what you can do to help at a time like this. But thankfully—just like it does for people searches—today’s technology makes it easy to donate and help when the Japan victims need it the most. And more than ever, I trust organizations that have experience and success in disaster recovery. JustGive has set up a special page that lists relief and aid groups working to help the Japanese people begin the long road to recovery.
Donate now and provide hope to people who have lost everything, including loved ones. Your generosity could mean one more hot meal, one more tent, one more survivor found.
And pass the word along to friends and family so they can give too.
Julia Hughes, Marketing Assistant