3 Small Caps You Should Know About

There are dozens of things I love about The Motley Fool, but the annual Foolanthropy drive ranks near the top. I've got two reasons for this.

First, I think it helps to be grounded as an investor. After all, investing just to collect moola is meaningless. Investing to create choices in your own life and in the lives of others is, however, Foolish.

Second, Foolanthropy allows a few deserving charities to get needed publicity. Hence, this column. Fellow Fool Selena Maranjian wrote eloquently yesterday about the benefits of what we affectionately call small-cap charities -- tiny organizations with noble missions and little renown. These are the ones suffering most in the wake of Katrina, since much recent giving has (rightfully) been focused on the awful situation in the Gulf Coast.

Certainly, worthy outfits such as the American Red Cross and America's Second Harvest still need donations to help Katrina's victims. But maybe you've been extra lucky with some investments this year, or maybe you've already given to support Katrina victims and find you've still got a little more dough to spare. If so, that's great, because many small charities still need your help. Here are three:

Advance Africa (http://www.advanceafrica.org), which offers family planning services for sub-Saharan African families. That may sound trite, but consider what's happening in the region. HIV and AIDS are now at pandemic proportions, and child mortality rates have skyrocketed. Proper family planning and good reproductive health can play a role in addressing both problems. I'll close this one by admitting a bias: I've been to Africa -- South Africa, specifically -- and my wife's best friend lives there.

Quilts 4 Cancer (www.quilts4cancer.com), which provides homemade quilts for children in the Southwestern U.S. diagnosed with cancer. It was founded by a Nevada couple, Barb and Jim Johnson, who are themselves cancer survivors. Children, however, typically aren't that lucky. According to the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation, of the approximately 13,000 children diagnosed with some form of the disease annually, roughly 35% don't survive. My wife knows a 5-year-old who is struggling with leukemia as I write. I'm pretty confident she'd appreciate a quilt.

The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (www.foodallergy.org), which has been instrumental in raising awareness about food allergies, including helping to pass the new food-labeling law that goes into effect Jan. 1. I recognize that this doesn't sound anywhere near as widespread and grave as HIV or cancer, and thankfully, usually it isn't. But food allergies are still a major issue. More than 7 million Americans have them, most of whom are children. Some are so serious that just smelling an allergen can cause a reaction, sometimes even anaphylaxis. Indeed, I should know. I've seen it. Our two sons have food allergies. The older, Benjamin, is now 5 but remains allergic to -- wait for it -- protein. Yes, you read that right. The fact that I've twice had to administer Benadryl to save my son's life convinces me FAAN belongs on this very worthy list.

This will be my sixth year of contributing through Foolanthropy. It's my first, however, trying to move the needle toward one of own favored charities. Join me in the effort. Get on the Foolanthropy discussion board today and nominate your favorite. You'll be giving someone, somewhere, a precious gift. And there's nothing more Foolish than that.

Get more Foolathropy with these related stories:

The Motley Fool has kicked off its ninth annual Foolanthropy campaign! Nominate your favorite charities on our Foolanthropy discussion board through Nov. 6. For guidelines on what makes a charity Foolish, visit www.foolanthropy.com.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers thinks giving really is better than receiving. Do your part. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. You can find out what's in his portfolio by checking Tim's Fool profile. The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.


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