It's the day before Thanksgiving, and you're getting leftovers from me today. For many years now at the Fool, I've been given the privilege of penning the Rule Breaker report that runs over Thanksgiving. This year, instead of musing on all that we can give thanks for, I thought I'd muse on how we can help others give thanks. More on that soon.
First, though, I'd like to point you to my previous Thanksgiving pieces (some of them old enough in Internet time to begin piquing the interest of archaeologists among us).
1996 -- A Foolish Alphabet of Thanks
1997 -- A Foolish Alphabet of Thanks 2.0
1998 -- A Year of Thanks
1999 -- A Timeline of Thanks
As you take a few minutes to ponder all that you have to be thankful for, take an additional few minutes to think of the billions of people who don't have it so good. (Yes, even though Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) is down more than 60% over the last 12 months, you're still better off than most people on Earth. Incredible, huh?)
This is the fourth year in a row that the Fool is conducting an online charity drive. We asked our community for nominations and we selected five unusual and inspiring organizations for which to raise money. In five nutshells:
America's Second Harvest feeds 26 million hungry Americans annually. It collects perishable food from hotels, restaurants, caterers, and elsewhere in many cities and rushes it to Community Kitchens, where disadvantaged people learning food service job skills stretch it to feed more mouths.
Ashoka finds practical visionaries with world-changing ideas and provides them with a living stipend (often as little as $3,000 per year) for three or four years, freeing them to work on developing their solutions. Ashoka's 1,000+ worldwide "Fellows" have, among other things, brought electricity to millions in Brazil and revolutionized India's elementary school curriculum.
Grameen Foundation USA supports programs that give loans to the poorest of the poor in America and developing countries so they can start small businesses, such as making crafts or selling food. Only a few dollars can transform lives. Repayment rates top 97%, and the money is re-lent over and over again.
Heifer Project International gives economic survival in the form of animals or plants to poor people worldwide. These gifts are then passed on to others, usually in the form of animal offspring. People in Asia might receive oxen, while American inner-city youth might be trained to raise fish to sell to restaurants.
Lifewater helps people worldwide build and maintain wells for themselves, donating materials and the volunteered time of geologists, engineers, and other professionals. More than a billion people live without proper access to a clean water supply and good sanitation.
I invite you to spend some time reading more about these Foolanthropy 2000 organizations. If you're so moved, please contribute something to them (we accept online donations via credit card and we've also got easy directions for donating by check or with stock). We know that you probably already have causes you support, but if each of the two million or so denizens of Fooldom chipped in just $5, we'd raise $10 million.
Let's see how much we can raise together for these worthy organizations. Let's see what happens when Fools join forces. Let's surprise ourselves. Here's to giving hundreds of thousands of people some unexpected blessings to be thankful for.