Every time there is a terrible tragedy, like the one in Haiti right now, there is a flood of scammers who will come in and try and separate you from your money--and keep it for themselves. Please don't let this stop you from giving. If you are want to help, just make sure your donation is getting where they say it's going.
If the charity is one you've never heard of, you can try checking them out on the Better Business Bureau website. Or, stick with well known, or personally known, fundraisers.
UNICEF,DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS, RED CROSS, and SAVE THE CHILDREN are just a few reputable charities. Google has put them all on one page quite nicely for us here. You can even text donations (if you're one of our teen readers, please make sure you talk to Mom and Dad first).
And it's easy to get overwhelmed with all the images and news. Sometimes it seems there is so much suffering on our planet--it's hard to not feel helpless and hopeless when looking at all that tragedy. If you're reading this post, chances are that even when money is tight, you've never not had sanitized water and the luxury of an education. Sometimes, if I look too long at the great, big picture I wonder how little old me can make a difference in the face of such hardship.
But look...I just did. I talked about a problem and let people know how to keep from getting scammed. I can go donate blood today. I can make sure that instead of feeling guilty for having so much, I use my resources to knit a scarf for a Veteran or send my latte money to the Red Cross. I know I can't wipe out world hunger by myself, but I can be kind and charitable--and I can teach my children to be the same. When I get overwhelmed, I try and do even small things. There are a lot of people on this planet, if we all did little small things to help each other out, it would be like Christmas all year.
I'm rambling a little, I know. Four hours of sleep and one cup of coffee isn't enough of either...but I hope that what you come away with is a sense that even if you can't raise a million dollars to send to Haiti, you can focus your attention on making the world, your corner of it, a better place. You can donate your time, you can research the groups that are making a difference and support them, you can treat people you come across with a charitable spirit and show by example how to keep paying forward your good fortune.