4 Inspiring Nonprofit Stories Show the Impact of Giving Back
BY LISA BROWN
Are you getting into the spirit of giving this year? Us too. We just opened the Zipcar Shop – a new online store full of the coolest Zipcar swag we could come up with. The best part? Net proceeds from the sale of all items in the shop go to four amazing nonprofits.
We spoke with each organization to find out where your contributions will go, and to learn more about the communities they serve. Check out the stories below from Best Friends Animal Society, Meals on Wheels, DonorsChoose.org, and Toys for Tots, and enjoy the warm fuzzies they inspire.
Best Friends Animal Society works to heal and rehabilitate abused pets, like Lance here.
BEST FRIENDS ANIMAL SOCIETY
Twenty-two of the dogs most in need of care after being rescued from Michael Vick’s horrifying dogfighting ring were sent to Best Friends Animal Society for rehabilitation. Each of those dogs was special, but from the start there was a standout: Lance. The best dog trainers in the world worked with the 22 dogs, and over time, each passed the court-ordered Canine Good Citizen test and was placed in a loving home. Except for Lance. Even though a wonderful family was interested in adopting him, he was not allowed to leave until he passed his test, and he had so much anxiety that every time he took the test, he would freeze.
Days, weeks, months, and then years went by, and the devoted trainers worked with Lance. Finally, one recent day, after four long years of hard work, he took the test again. And this time, thanks to the ongoing help of Best Friends Animal Society and their dedicated trainers, he passed. And the couple that had been waiting to love and care for this special dog? They were able to take him home and do just that.
Best Friends Animal Society saves animals all over the United States by taking in special-needs pets at their sanctuary and by partnering with local humane groups. Through their work in the field, and by empowering shelters and rescue groups around the country to save more lives, Best Friends is committed to giving back to the pets that selflessly devote their lives to us.
Staffed by an army of 2 million volunteers, the incredible Meals on Wheels aims to put an end to senior hunger.
MEALS ON WHEELS
Ms. Mack is a senior who lives on her own. She survives on just $700 a month, and has to budget what she eats. She can’t afford to pay her bills, and with no friends or family around, her life can be lonely. She remembers when she used to work at a nearby plaza. Meals on Wheels visited many seniors in that area, but she didn’t pay any attention because she never needed the services. It wasn’t until she found herself in a position of needing help that she began to understand how amazing the program really is. And now, five days a week, she gets visits from Meals on Wheels volunteers. And that, she says, is the greatest thing that ever happened to her. The volunteers are her family. Of the food and the social interaction, she tearfully says, “It means so much to an old lady.”
The numbers are staggering – over 1 million meals delivered every day; approximately 2 million volunteers who act as an army of do-gooders all around the United States. It’s not hard to see how Meals on Wheels changes so many lives in communities across America. The mission of the organization is simple – that that no senior should go hungry. Through community health, nutrition and quality of life programs, Meals on Wheels is working toward a definitive end to senior hunger.
DonorsChoose.org lets donors give directly to classroom projects – like a recent gift that allowed a classroom of special needs students to spend a night at the Natural History Museum.
Earlier this fall, teachers from all over the Bronx gathered at the DonorsChoose.org offices to celebrate a new school year. Each educator had posted a project on the nonprofit’s website in the hopes that inspired donors from all over the country would give to their classroom needs. The projects included requests for iPads, literature and more. But perhaps the most noteworthy fundraising effort was the project to bring a group of special needs students on an overnight trip at the Museum of Natural History. During the previous school year, these students had begged to make this trip happen – they offered to have lemonade stands and raise as much money as they could. But the cost was too great, and the students couldn’t go.
On this special evening, DonorsChoose.org had a surprise for all the Bronx educators. One of the nonprofit’s most generous donors had decided to flash fund every single Bronx project on the website that night. And so, in addition to all the books and technology that were funded that night, the class finally got its trip to the museum.
Public school educators sometimes struggle to give their students the materials and experiences they need for a fully rounded education. In the poorest areas of the country, funding is scarce, and teachers rely on the generosity of others to help their students. DonorsChoose.org is a crowd-funding website that enables front-line educators all across America to raise money for various classroom projects. Donors can give as little or as much as they like, with the confidence that their money is going directly into the classrooms, empowering educators, and changing students’ lives.
Toys for Tots helps parents struggling with financial troubles give their kids the festive, joyous holiday season they deserve.
TOYS FOR TOTS
On Christmas Eve, Delores sat at the kitchen table painting a round oatmeal carton to look like a drum. It wasn’t the holiday gift she had envisioned for her four-year-old son and two-year old daughter, but it was the best that the struggling single mom could do. The handmade drum was the only present the children would find under their scrawny Christmas tree. With no family to help out, Delores struggled to pay for their cramped apartment and the food on their table. Most of all, she struggled to keep a positive attitude in front of her kids, when everything felt so dire.
Thankfully, Delores got some unexpected help. While she was sitting at her kitchen table, two members of the US Marine Corps were working quickly and quietly to leave a box on her front steps – a box full of toys for Delores’ children.
As part of the Toys for Tots program, Marines all over the United States are packing up and delivering boxes of gifts – toys, books, and more – to moms and dads who are unable to provide these things for their children. And all over the country, parents like Delores will be able to give their children the festive, merry, joyous holiday they deserve.
From now through Dec. 24, all net proceeds from sales on the Zipcar holiday shop go to one of these charities. So go ahead. Buy gifts for your friends, your family, even a little for yourself, with the knowledge that your purchase is giving back.