The holiday season always makes me very reflective on how fortunate I am. I have never been hungry or worried about being homeless. I was in a marriage that was horrible, but I was lucky enough to get out of it and had the overwhelming support of my family and friends to help me during and through the aftermath of that situation. There are so many people who do not have the luxuries of family and friends to help them through difficult times.

Today is giving Tuesday, so here are my top LOCAL charities that help the less fortunate. I chose to stay local because there are so many great national non-profits that have endowments that these smaller local ones just don’t have.

1.) The Valley Mission: The Valley Mission provides temporary shelter, food, and clothing to those without. This is vitally important to the community, especially for families.

2.) The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank:The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank assists 1.3 million people per year in 25 counties. It provides food for those who need it without judgement.

3.) New Directions and Project Horizon: These two charities provide emergency shelter as well as counselling, children’s services, food and clothing, and crisis hotlines for survivors of domestic abuse. These two local groups are of the utmost importance in helping women and men who have been abused get out of their dangerous living situations and move forward towards a productive and healthy future.

4.) Augusta Dog Adoptions: One of the greatest joys in my life, little Jolson, came from this local group. They rescue dogs from high kill shelters and provide vet care and rehabilitation before adopting them out to deserving homes. They give a voice to the voiceless and homes to the homeless.

5.) CASA for Children: Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children serve as advocates for children who have experienced severe abuse and violence. Another organization that gives a voice to the voiceless and helps those who are not able to help themselves.

These are just a few of the many worthy charities that I support in the area. I also get angels from the Salvation Army Angel Tree every year. Donations of new toys and clothes are given to boys and girls who may not have much under their Christmas trees otherwise.

If you are not in a position to make a financial contribution, all of these organizations are happy for volunteers as well.