The 2014 Non Profit Guide

The Tucson Weekly’s Helpful Guide to Giving

We're as guilty of this as anyone. It's easy to let this time of year get away from you, spending money on a big Thanksgiving dinner or getting ready for an ever-increasing list of gifts you have to buy for people you're not even sure you like. On this Thanksgiving week, let's take a moment together and think of how we can do a little bit better, give a little more to our community instead of handing over another sort-of-thought-out present that you're not even sure the other person wants. Give something to the community, either from the list of some our favorite local organizations we've written about here or from the long catalog of groups in town that could also use your help.

Access Tucson

Access Tucson has had a rough year. They've lost support from the city of Tucson and even had city officials considering selling their home on Broadway Boulevard to the highest bidder.

Despite that, the plucky organization has continued its work: Training Tucsonans how to use video cameras, studio facilities and editing bays to create their own TV shows. Sure, you can do a lot of that kind of thing with a desktop computer and a decent camera, but even with those tools, you can't do what a studio can with its light grid and high-tech video and audio equipment. And don't forget there's a digital divide: You may have the latest smartphone and laptop, but plenty of folks aren't so lucky. Access Tucson gives young folks an opportunity to learn about video production at a low cost that colleges can't match.

Casa Maria Catholic Worker Community

If you ever have a chance to visit Casa Maria, a cold work-day morning is the best time to appreciate the good work the soup kitchen does almost every day of the year, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. At the top of the morning, there's usually a crowd of people, many homeless, but all hungry, milling around the soup kitchen house. With coffee in hand, they are waiting for a hot bowl of soup, and a delicious and generously packed brown-bag lunch. There's something else you should know about Casa Maria. The organization is possibly one of the only nonprofits in town with a true pulse on life in South Tucson. Plus their staff and volunteers take social justice to heart. When TUSD was closing schools, Casa Maria representatives were there, and the same can be said of public transportation discussions and really anything in Tucson affecting the poor. You can count on it.

Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona

The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona continues to face growing demand from hungry people, but support from the community is starting to lag a bit.

Michael McDonald, who has been CEO at the Food Bank for the last 10 months, the organization is fortunate to have solid relationships with the region's grocers and growers, which means the Food Bank has the ability to stretch donor dollars in a way the average shopper cannot. So while donations of food—and especially protein—are appreciate, cash donations are important, too.

And the Food Bank is among the non-profits that serve the working poor, so any donation up to $200 (or $400 for a couple filing jointly) will come right back to your on your state tax return.

Here's a little-known fact about the Food Bank: The organization works with local farmers, schools and individuals to build stronger food security household by household. Just last week, the Food Bank celebrated a big breakthrough: Manzo Elementary became the first TUSD school to become a farm-to-table institution: Food that's grown in the school's garden is now available in the cafeteria.

Emerge! Center Against Domestic Violence

Getting out of an abusive relationship might be one of the toughest things for women to do, especially when there are children involved. The psychological pressure an abusive partner can inflict on a victim can be just as powerful as physical violence and put even more barriers in the path to escape.

Often, the idea that there's no way to build a new life is a huge barrier—which is why the work of the Emerge! Center Against Domestic Violence is so crucial. Emerge! provides emergency shelter, counseling and other support for women and their children who are finally ready to make a break from a bad situation.

Emerge! is among the non-profits serving the working poor, so your donation of up to $200 (or $400 for a couple filing jointly) will come right back to you when you file your state tax return.

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