Today in the 2010 PopCult Gift Guide we suggest that you make a charitable donation on behalf of someone on your gift list.  With the economy in the shape it is, charitable donations are down.  If you have someone on your gift list who likes to be socially active, but may have had to tighten their belts, then perhaps they would be more touched by a donation made in their name than they would by receiving a gift like the Chia Obama.

There are loads of worthy causes out there.  You’d probably be best off choosing one that has a special meaning to the person for whom you are donating.  Just remember, do not make a donation to a political charity.  You’re just asking for trouble, and we should NEVER FEED THE POLITICIANS!

If you’re stuck for ideas, let me offer a couple of causes that I think could use a hand.

Covenant House was created in 1981 by Charleston citizens and groups committed to helping those with the fewest resources.  Their mission was to work for justice by offering direct services for West Virginians in need while creating social change through advocacy and education.  Their founders recognized that by pooling their collective financial and material (food and clothing) resources, they would have greater impact. Among the many notable Covenant House programs are the Homeless Outreach program, which targets those who are chronically homeless; the SOAR (SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery) initiative, which helps those experiencing homelessness and disabling mental illness through the social security application process; The Residential & Resource Program offers housing-related outreach and supportive services to people with specific medical diagnoses and Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS assists people who are HIV+ with housing-related concerns.  Covenant House is also very active in educating the community on issues of homelessness and HIV awareness. You can find details on how to support Covenant House at this link.

Since 1978, Manna Meal Soup Kitchen has fed over 1.25 million people. They serve two meals a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year to the hungry in Charleston. Manna Meal’s policy is to serve anyone who is hungry with no questions asked. They seek to provide a safe haven for their guests, who include women, men, teenagers, families, and seniors.  Manna Meal is solely dependent on contributions from the community of Charleston. They are not a governmental program and rely on the financial generosity of individuals, religious communities, corporations and businesses. Manna Meal is operated by a small paid staff, but highly depends on volunteers to assist in setting up, cleaning the dining room, preparation and serving food and assisting the staff. Contributions and volunteers are always welcome and you may contact Manna Meal at 304-345-7121 in you have any questions regarding the best ways you can help.