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Posted by Augie Ray on December 18, 2010
If you’re in need of a last-minute holiday gift, how about giving the gift of charity and education? I had a series of experiences with DonorsChoose.org this year that exceeded every expectation. Never have I been more appreciated for a contribution, nor have I felt and seen the impact of a donation more directly. The affirmative feelings I received from DonorsChoose.org were so wonderful, I want to share them with you (and I’m giving gifts of DonorsChoose.org to people on my gift list this year).
I came to know DonorsChoose.org through Twitter, which distributed $50 gift cards to attendees of its Chirp Conference in April. (Classy move, Twitter!) I was not familiar with DonorChoose.org and learned that it is a site where public school teachers in the US can post classroom project requests for which they need cash. Visitors can surf the site for projects based on topics or location and may give as little as $1. DonorsChoose.org vets each teacher’s request and purchases the requested classroom materials, shipping items directly to the school.
With Twitter’s gift card in hand, I surfed the site for a worthy school project in my home state of Wisconsin. I found a request from Mrs. D’s classroom in a high-poverty area of the state. Their need was simple: 16 current children's dictionaries and 16 current children's thesauruses. Others had already donated, such as Kirsten from Santa Fe, NM, who had attended the school in the 1970s and Sharon from Bayside, WI, because "I’m a strong believer in Literacy education." I used my $50 Chirp gift for Mrs. D’s request and then chipped in another $25 of my own to help the classroom hit its necessary total.
The purpose of the site and the way it operates was impressive, but it was after the classroom achieved its goal that DonorsChoose.org made an impact on me that was perhaps even greater than the impact I had for Mrs. D’s kids. You can, if you care to, remain anonymous when donating, but given my experience, I’d recommend you identify yourself and reap the rewards:
Perhaps if I was a better person, the flood of gratitude wouldn’t mean so much. But it was exactly this level of positive reinforcement that has driven me back to the site this holiday season to give more to classrooms and to gift this same experience to my loved ones. I hope you’ll do the same! Visit DonorsChoose.org and make a difference in the lives of some students!
P.S. DonorsChoose.org gets a four-star rating from Charity Navigator with 92% of donated money going to classroom programs. To date, 350,000 donors have donated $68 million and helped more than 4 million students. Most of the projects funded have been in high-poverty schools. Teachers have reported that 94% of their funded projects have increased their effectiveness in the classroom.
P.P.S. In the event any of Mrs. D’s kids should read this, I used a thesaurus to write this blog post. Best of luck, and thanks for making a difference in my life!
P.P.P.S. If you're still reading this, I'd very much appreciate your tweeting this blog post. Perhaps we can introduce this worthy organization to others and make a difference in many students' lives this holiday season!