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If you give to any charities, you are aware that most charities sell their mailing lists to other charities. So where you may be a regular supporter of a few, you receive scores of other appeals requesting your donations to support their mission.

I understand this. What I find particularly difficult is that because I truly believe in the charities I donate to, those organizations with similar missions often resonate deeply with me as well. How do we decide to whom we give when the funds available to give are limited? I already have a stack I’d like to give to and more requests continue to pour in. In the last couple weeks, I must have received at least 20 appeals, some from those I already give to, and many other charities with worthy missions that want me to come on board with them.

The piece in all of these that really caught my eye told me that:

  • One in three women worldwide are beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in their lifetime
  • Up to 70% of women worldwide encounter violence.
  • As many as 6 out of 10 migrant women from Central America are raped on their journey to the United States
  • Native American and Alaska Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than women in the U.S. in general
  • In 2010 alone, an estimated 15,000 women were raped in eastern Congo.

The letter went on to describe the circumstances of individual women, one in the Democratic Republic of Congo who spoke out about being raped by a soldier and was raped again and bayonetted in the stomach. There are numerous other bone-chilling instances of women being burned because their dowries were too small, stoned to death because they “dishonored” their families, etc. Reference is made to the many women who, unable to support themselves, endure years of domestic abuse.

It is hard to believe that in our so-called enlightened world with all its technological advances that we remain so utterly barbaric towards one half of the human race … women. Madeleine K. Albright said, “There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women.”

I feel compelled to help, but how? Do I give financially? Should I give to this organization, (Amnesty International), or to local organizations? Or should I help organizations that fight mammoth industrial giants who will knowingly destroy entire geographical areas and cause widespread species extinction?  Or help American Indian elders without food and heat? Or organizations that fight the worst of animal cruelty? Or … or … or?

Is there not a special place in hell for those of us who are aware of such need and do nothing? I was profoundly struck by these egregious offenses against women, yet I am aware of the need in every corner of the planet, and I, as can we all, can always do something. Whatever it is.

Oddly enough, after reading all these appeals, I remembered why I wanted to write children’s books … I want to open children’s eyes, to show them the love and beauty in the world, but also to show them that they have the power to change what’s wrong. They needn’t know at 5 years old that women are being sexually assaulted throughout the world, but they can know that helping and caring about others, be it humans, animals or our planet, makes a difference. And a well-crafted children’s book can show that in the most un-obvious of ways. So while I’ve yet to figure out where to send my next donation, perhaps  writing from my heart is my unique gift to a troubled world, the gift I can always give.

My guess is that you, no matter how much money you do or don’t have,  have plenty to give, too.

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