As the year's end and holidays approach, many people consider charitable gifts and philanthropy, and how they can make a positive impact on the surrounding community. As travelers, we see the needs that exist throughout the world and often wonder how we can make a difference.
There are a variety of relatively simple charitable opportunities available, where small actions can have a resounding impact. Here are just a few:
From small coins to large bills, unused foreign currency can undoubtedly be found in desk drawers and organizers in our homes or offices.
An organization named Change for Good will accept any foreign money you have and use it to support its UNICEF efforts around the world. You won't receive an itemized receipt of the donation, but know that your gift combined with others will generate millions to support children in need.
Send unused foreign currency (bills or coins) to:
Attn: Change for Good Program
125 Maiden Lane
New York, New York 10038
Frequent Flier Miles
All major airlines will accept donations of frequent flier miles (as little as 500 miles) to help support various charities they support. Delta, United, American, JetBlue, Southwest, and Frontier are some of the North American-based airlines that support organizations like the American Red Cross, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, The American Cancer Society and many more. Please note that these mileage gifts are usually not tax-deductible. The airline gets credit for the gift to the charity—and you get the warm feeling of doing something for others.
Support Local Groups
Many youth groups or charitable organizations that operate in the countries you visit have websites or methods that process donations—some even by credit card. So that youth dance group, musical ensemble or women’s co-op that charmed or impressed you during your recent trip can receive your help, months or even years after you've returned home. If you visited destinations that made a social impact on you, check with your tour operator or the country or city's Chamber of Commerce to learn more information on how to become involved.
Do you have old suitcases or luggage still in good condition? Donate them to local foster care facilities for children in need. If there is not a suitcase drive in your area, visit suitcasesforkids.org to learn how to launch a drive in your town—this is a fantastic 4H, scout, or Rotary group project.
Study Abroad Scholarships
Help a young person gain the valuable experience and insights that come from travel or living abroad. Whether you support your local college’s efforts to send students abroad or donate to a not-for-profit that sends students to areas of need, your donations will support both the local effort and help an American become a better world citizen.
Spread the word about all that is out there to see—talk to young people in your community about your travel experiences. Sharing your visit to Africa with a scout trip might seem like a small thing, but you will inspire young people to travel and learn about the world around them.