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Holiday Gift Guide: Making a Difference in our Communities

Posted by Ashley Preuss

Holidays CJCAs the holiday spirit moves into full swing, we’re out buying gifts for our loved ones or tracking our online purchases to see if they will be delivered in time. Maybe you’re ahead of the game this year and you already have your presents wrapped and hidden, but there may in fact be another recipient you’d still like to give a gift to this season.

We’ve outlined several non-profits we support that you may consider adding to your gift list, from education, to inclusion, to mental health, to our nation’s heroes. These organizations continually give cherished gifts to the communities they serve. Take a moment while your wallet is open this season and give a gift that will keep giving after it’s been received.

Wreaths Across America

Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company in Maine, had a surplus of wreaths approaching the end of the holiday season in 1992. Remembering his boyhood visit to Arlington National Cemetery, he realized he had an opportunity to honor veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. With help from Senator Olympia Snowe, he made arrangements to have his surplus wreaths placed at Arlington.

This wreath laying became an annual tribute and continued quietly for years until a photo of the decorated stones at Arlington gained attraction on the Internet in 2005. The event continued to grow as communities around the nation sought to participate too and in 2007, Wreaths Across America was formed with the mission to remember, honor, and teach. In 2014 alone, 700,000 memorial wreaths were laid by the non-profit and its network of volunteers at 1,000 locations across the nation and afar. Today Wreaths Across America continues to honor our nation’s veterans with several programs and is committed to teaching children about freedom and those who protect it.

CyberTexas Foundation

Education is also highly important to the CyberTexas Foundation in San Antonio, Texas. The city is a hub for cyber security with outstanding academic programs and thousands of professionals working in the industry. The foundation aims to lead the way in cyber security and “steer academic, business, and government entities to develop, promote, and enhance cyber and cyber security programs and capabilities.” Their goals span developing the cyber workforce through expanded cyber curriculum in Texas, enhancing economic development by retaining, recruiting, and growing cyber businesses in Texas, and increasing community cyber awareness and preparedness.

Youth Code Jam

Also looking to advance educational endeavors, Youth Code Jam focuses on inspiring kids to tell computers what to do by learning code. The organization “provides unique, innovative, impactful and family-focused out of school time, hands-on, computing programs for a wide range of neurotypical and neurodiverse students as well as providing teacher professional development designed to bring computer science to every school and every classroom.”

They’re getting upper elementary through high school students excited about programming, while preparing them for real world jobs, building their confidence, and inspiring them to imagine. From playing online to creating online, Youth Code Jam is making a difference one child at a time.

The Diana Initiative

Another non-profit making a difference for its patrons is the Diana Initiative, an inclusive conference that looks to encourage diversity and support women pursuing information security careers. Attendees are able to find a sense of empowerment through shared experiences during networking and collaboration in a relaxed space where everyone is truly welcome.

Mentoring is an important aspect of their work, as nurturing talent is valuable on both the individual and community level. Through events and conversations they look to promote diversity and supportive workplace cultures, while also launching careers.

Mental Health Hackers

While we all deal with stress in our fast paced lives it’s important to pause and take care of ourselves.  A brand new non-profit is striving to reach out to hackers in the community to improve mental health and help our family and friends. Mental Health Hackers is creating mental health and wellness villages. We can’t wait to see how they develop and grow while helping our community.

This list is by no means comprehensive, as there are many other worthwhile charities out there to consider, each bringing hope and joy to the individuals they strive to make a difference for. Help them make the season brighter and make a contribution to a worthwhile cause today—that’s at the top of my wish list.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 18, 2018 4:09 pm

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