Befriend a Seeing-Eye Pup-in-Training
Want a part-time, adorable Labrador or Golden Retriever? Puppies Behind Bars, which teaches prison inmates to raise guide dogs, needs weekend sitters who can help acclimate the dogs to city life. The organization prepares a puppy for guide dog school or to be a blind child's pet. The deal-sealer: They're already housebroken!
There are some requirements: sitter must agree to take a puppy at least one weekend per month, attend a 2-hour orientation and spend about $100 for supplies, such as a dog crate and food.
Akanksha, a foundation that runs educational centers for India's indigent children, welcomes volunteers to help at one of its 25 centers, from mentoring to teaching (art, sewing, computers) to assisting the staff. If you're a bit less hardy, try Caribbean Volunteer Expeditions for slightly cushier trips involving historical preservation and research. Other sites containing information on volunteer vacations: Earthwatch Institute, volunteerinternational.org, globalvolunteers.org and Experiential Learning International.
Buy the Farm Or Part of It
Give the gift of ... bees? The catalog of Heifer International offers several types of livestock hives, too, at $30 available for purchase and donation to needy families around the world. Pigs ($120) are bringing an income to an orphanage in Poland; buffalo ($250) are an invaluable help to farmers in Vietnam. All recipients are required to "pass on the gift," or give the first female offspring to another family in need.
a Piece of the Park
For a minimum donation of $2,500, you can join Carly Simon, Bill
Cosby and others in adopting a Central Park tree through the Central
Park Conservancy. Contributions go toward the Park's tree fertilization
and maintenance. For donations of $5,000 or more, engraved granite
paving stones with the donor's name, the name of the tree, and the
year endowed are installed in the walkway around the Olmsted Flower
bed at the entrance to Literary Walk in the heart of Central Park.
For donations from $2,500 to $5,000, donors receive a framed color
photograph of the tree endowed, a certificate of endowment, and
a map indicating the tree's location. For something a little more
ephemeral (and less pricey, at $1 per flower), contribute some daffodils
to the Park's spring landscape.
You may have heard about donating your car to charity avoid the sales hassle, take a tax write-off. Volunteers of America is one worthy organization accepting vehicles. And they accept boats! Who knew?
Photo: Valerie Shaff, courtesy Puppies Behind Bars.