There are many groups whose names rarely hear about, working without fanfare reaching across to help those less fortunate across the globe.


During the Christmas and holiday season, consideration should be given to groups whose acts of charity can change lives of the poor on a year round basis. The following are faith based and secular groups embracing the ecumenical notion of community and social responsibility.

These groups may not be well known yet they quietly go about their work, focusing on those among us lacking the basics we so often take for granted. Necessities like clean water for drinking and sanitation, light to ward off the darkness, warm clothing and a decent meal can mean the difference between life and death for millions around the globe.

It is extraordinary to see how much good can be accomplished with donations of $100 or less. Consider that many of gifts purchased with your donations will offer a hand up to those in need, living in unbearable conditions and suffering in grinding poverty. These are gifts that can impact a life and offer hope.

LifeStraw immediately transforming undrinkable water into clean water

Photo by: Vestergaard Frandsen

The next time you leave the faucet on so the water can get hot you might consider the daily struggle millions face to find clean water. Unsafe drinking water is directly responsible for 80% of all the sickness in developing countries. Estimates are that approximately 20 seconds a child dies from a water related illness. This is a global crisis.

Only three percent of the earth’s surface water is safe for drinking. We face a water crisis, both long and short term that continues to grow.

Enter the LifeStraw, a personal water filtration unit manufactured by Vestergaard. According to the company the LifeStraw, removes 99.99% of waterborne bacteria and protozoan parasites without the use of chemicals harmful to the environment.

One LifeStraw can filter 264 gallons of contaminated water. This life saving device can immediately turn nasty water from any questionable source into clean water safe for drinking. There are several ways you can put a LifeStraw into the hands of those in desperate need of clean water.

The Rotarians of Ft Lauderdale and the Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation (CELF) continue to give away thousands of LifeStraws with the involvement of numerous business groups and schools throughout the country.

You can purchase a LifeStraw for as little as $19.95 at local retailers and on-line. When you do, Vestergaard will put a LifeStraw into the hands of a school child in Africa capable of providing clean water for an entire year.

My Brother’s Keeper is one of many ministries of the Catholic Church of St. Ann in Marietta.

They work with the homeless in our community in creative, innovative ways that go far beyond the Shepherd House meals served to the homeless on the first and fifth Thursday of each month.

· Candle program – Since November of 2010, My Brother’s Keeper has distributed 15,000 candles to the homeless. As you sit in the comfort of your home, consider those living without a roof over their heads. For many who are homeless, these candles are the only source of light and heat once darkness sets in.

· Bike program – Beginning in March 2012, the ministry began providing bikes to the homeless. These bikes are the only mode of transportation available to many of the homeless. To date, 107 bikes have been provided. Lucky recipients also receive a chain, lock, reflective vest and helmet.

· Veteran Backpacks for the homeless – Living on the streets is a hard life. To address the particular needs of our veteran homeless the ministry continues giving away backpacks. More than 200 backpacks containing blankets, underwear, flashlights, hats and food vouchers have been put into the hands of homeless vets.

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To learn more about My Brother’s Keeper or make donations, contact The Catholic Church of St. Ann’s  770-552-6400  4905 Roswell Road, Marietta, GA 30062.

Noah’s Ark is part of Food for the Poor, Inc.

Let me state up front, Food for the Poor, Inc. is one of my favorite charities. This charity organization concentrates its efforts in Latin America and the Caribbean. This Christmas they have wonderful gifts that can be given in your family’s name or in the name of a friend or loved one.

These gifts from the heart are priceless because they provide food and provide a needy family with a source of income.

So little money can give so much!

· A $25 gift provides 20 baby chicks. When these chicks mature, they will provide eggs to stave off malnutrition and a supplemental income from the sale of extra eggs.

· A $90 gift provides a goat. Goats give families milk that can also be used to produce cheese.

· A $100 gift will provide a family with three baby pigs. These animals can be breed to provide a self-sustaining income source in addition to food.