yes, May has apparently been meme month. i’m trying to cut down my consumption of memes (though i am enjoying using the word immensely, darling Dave) as well the contagion i spread to others, but to round out the month and hopefully step into June all pure and untagged, this particular chain letter seemed worthy. ;)

Plain Jane Mom tagged me for the Charity Meme. nine days ago. i’ve been letting it ripen.

the rules are simple – copy the list of charities and links (grab it from whomever tags you) and add your 5 favorite charities or non-profit organizations to the end (link to their sites with anchor text of the causes they champion). of course finish things off by tagging 5 other webmasters/bloggers and then publishing the post or the webpage.

now, i know charity is, by definition, a good cause. and i went to Sunday school as a little girl and memorized me some 1st Corinthians 13, which for those of you not carrying bits of the Christian New Testament around in your brain as slightly out-of-place cargo, runs along the lines of “faith, hope, and charity…and the greatest of these is charity.” seeing as i’m largely faithless and involved in a revolving up and down struggle with hope on some days, i generally figure i need to make a friend of charity. i’m blessed. i can share. i may be cheap, but i’m an easy touch.

so why does this charity meme, which is obviously well-intended and is working to pull together a fine list of good causes to which i might choose to donate money or time should i find myself so inclined, make me so uncomfortable?

i’m not sure. i think the word has perhaps been tainted for generations, and each layer of it adds confusion to what “charity” really means, what the societal good is, who deserves its fruits, and whether and what they owe those who contribute. plus a whole lot of other crap. it’s messy, charity. is it a yuppie salve? an excuse not to really get one’s hands dirty and help people? absolution for government or corporate or neighbourly negligence? necessary? a bane of the welfare state? just a way of sharing one’s blessings with a larger circle? i’ve given charity, i suppose, and have certainly been its recipient. sometimes, the giving has been done with condescension…charity can make one feel like trash, i know. or it can make one feel wrapped in a blanket of caring and safety that one couldn’t have woven oneself.

i like to think the difference might be love. later translations of 1st Corinthians 13 – those that use modern, not Shakespearean English – translate faith, hope, and charity as faith, hope, and love.

so here are five large-scale charities i support, with love & gratitude – either for having been there when i and my loved ones needed them, for being there in case i ever do, or for reminding me that there is a world outside my door and much to get down on my faithless knees and be thankful for.

1. Run for the Cure – Canadian cancer society, breast cancer
2. Medecins Sans Frontiers/Doctors without Borders – international humanitarian medical aid agency
3. World Vision – international children’s aid/sponsorship agency, promotes sustainable gifts of livestock, crops, and school supplies
4. March of Dimes – American organization for preventing premature birth and supporting preemies
…and lastly, and a little more personal & more timely…
5. the IWK Children’s Hospital – where Finn was born and where sweet/saltyKate‘s twins are right now…the annual fundraising telethon is this weekend.

here’s the list thus far:
LDS Humanitarian Services – donate to charity
American Red Cross – emergency response
Wasatch Homeless Health Care Incorporated/4th Street Clinic – health care for the homeless
Newborns in Need – knitting for preemies
Habitat for Humanity – housing
American Red Cross – disaster relief
Raleigh Rescue Mission – homeless raleigh
SOS Children’s Villages – sponsor a child
Samaritan’s Purse – emergency relief programs
St. Jude Children’s Hospital – cancer research
The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation – children with AIDS
Make a Wish Foundation – grant a child’s wish
Save the Children – children in poverty
Ronald McDonald House – helping sick children and families
Toys for Tots – toys for all kids
Run for the Cure – breast cancert
Medecins Sans Frontiers – humanitarian medical aid
World Vision – children’s aid and sponsorship
March of Dimes – preemies
IWK Children’s Hospital – kids’ health

i don’t want to tag for this one. i do want to see it continue…but i want participation to be voluntary. in my own little mind, charity works best that way. if you do take it up, gimme a nod and let me know. :)