It's just before Thanksgiving, and you're getting leftovers from me today. For many years now at the Fool, I've had the privilege of penning the Rule Breaker report that runs over Thanksgiving. This year, with all of its hardships and tragedy, cries out to us all the more to give thanks for what is good in our lives. More on that soon.
First, though, I'd like to point you to some 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
2000 -- Help Others Give 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. Even as we suffer from a declining economy and terrible acts of murder, as a nation we're still more fortunate than most people on Earth. In many places, malnutrition and dysentery are the rule rather than the exception. Our poverty would be prosperity in most of the countries of the world. In hard times, it's more necessary than ever to remember how rich our lives are.
This is the sixth year in a row that the Fool is conducting an online charity drive. Here are the five organizations we're raising money for this year (The Fool takes no part of your donation). We dare you to read about them and not find them remarkable and inspiring:
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 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 2001 organizations. If you're so moved, please contribute something to them (we've got easy directions for donating by check or with stock, and we link to the organizations' online donation pages). We know that you probably already have causes you support, but if each of the three million or so denizens of Fooldom chipped in just $5, we'd raise $15 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.