You can still feel that second piece of pumpkin cheesecake right above your waistband, you’re questioning your judgment on 90 percent of your Black Friday purchases, and Cyber Monday added three more pairs of shoes to your overstuffed shoe closet.
It’s okay, it happens to the best of us.
But I have the answer to erase all this damage done around the season that was once a time to humbly bow our heads and give thanks for all that we have. It’s a new thing called Giving Tuesday, an idea that started in New York two years ago and quickly spread via social media. The first #GivingTuesday, in 2012, generated $10.1 million in donations. Last year, that nearly doubled, to $19.2 million. The average donation was $142, according to Blackbaud, one of the founding partners of the movement.
All this generosity makes way for Clean Slate Wednesday. So this year, I present to you The Giving List, a handful of organizations that work to solve some of the headline-worthy problems in our region. Consider making a donation to any of them or to a nonprofit organization of your choice. I promise, you’ll feel much better about that Snow Glow Elsa and the GoPro camera stashed in the closet.
There is a woman in uniform living in a Virginia homeless shelter right now, even as she gets ready to deploy to Afghanistan. What’s keeping a roof over her head until she lands at our base out there is Jas Boothe and her group, Final Salute.
Boothe, an Army captain who was once homeless, founded this group to help the increasing number of female veterans and their children who find themselves without a home, usually after returning from a deployment. Their home lives can fall apart while they are gone. And once they’ve left the military, finding employment is challenging, Boothe said.
A $25 donation can house a woman and her children in one of their transitional homes for a day. If you’re feeling really generous, or your business is looking for a good charity to fund, $5,000 would take care of 10 service members and their children for a month.
Homelessness isn’t always easy to detect on the outside. The woman I met was dressed well, and her car was pretty nice. She’s a substitute teacher in a Montgomery County public school. And she’s been sleeping on a couch for about a year.
“You just don’t get a good night’s sleep like that,” said Executive Director of A Wider Circle Mark Bergel. He gave his own bed up in 2008 and vows to sleep on the floor, on the couch, on chairs until everyone else has a bed.
The woman has been through a divorce, eviction, a layoff. She was embarrassed to be strapping the new mattresses from A Wider Circle to her car, but grateful.
A Wider Circle accepts donations of professional clothing, furniture, toys, cleaning supplies and toiletries. But if you want to simply click on Giving Tuesday, you can help buy a new mattress for someone struggling to stand tall.
Three homeless centers near the ThriveDC headquarters have shut down in the past four years in a part of the District that’s getting fancier every day. Meanwhile, homelessness in the city is going up.
In the basement of a Northwest Washington church, the folks with ThriveDC serve breakfast for men in the mornings, dinner for women and children in the evenings. They have a barber give haircuts, there is the quiet click of needles during knitting class, a computer lab, showers and washing machines.
Executive Director Alicia Horton said the organization emphasizes respect in the way they work with clients. That’s one of the first thing the men having coffee in that basement told me. “They really care about us,” one of them told me. “I am treated like a person here.”
This has been a heartbreaking and heartening year on the subject of sexual assault. We listened to stories from women alleging they were drugged and raped by comedy legend Bill Cosby and talked about the shocking treatment rape victims said they received at the University of Virginia. They are being heard partly because of advocacy work done by groups such as RAINN, who operate counseling lines for the growing number of victims who are being empowered to come forward.
The statistics aren’t good for transgender kids. Studies have shown that 41 percent of them have attempted suicide, 61 percent have been physically assaulted and 64 percent have been sexually assaulted. Countless transgender kids end up homeless after being kicked out by their families.
Ruby Corado has been an advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in the District for two decades. Her Casa Ruby has been a safe haven for Latino LGBT kids and, last week, she signed the papers to create a 10- to 12-bed safe house for transgender kids. You can help fund this project, which will give shelter, acceptance and a chance to many kids who feel like they have nowhere else to go.
There. Feel better?
8For previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/dvorak.