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Christmas Cheer The Internet

Season's Givings? 238

DevanJedi asks: "Many people around the world plan their charitable giving around this time of the year, for religious, tax or other similarly benevolent reasons. As a geek who spends an inordinate amount of time around his computer, I have compiled a list of entities that have made my geek life easier, in the past year. Which other projects does Slashdot believe to be worthy of praise, money, recognition, developer time or general applause?"
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Season's Givings?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 18, 2005 @02:44PM (#14286154)
    I'm thinking that might've been a bad idea since I now realize they're not a charity.
  • by hcetSJ ( 672210 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @02:45PM (#14286170)
    Slashdot my bank account . . .

    Just deposit to account 1241234234 . . .
  • by butters the odd ( 729841 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @02:48PM (#14286190)
    Apparently your server wasn't quite ready for the Slashdot effect.
  • Food banks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Barkley44 ( 919010 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @02:50PM (#14286197) Homepage
    I find food banks are the best place to donate, especially in food form (instead of cash). Canned foods last well into the new year and many people benefit from the meals they provide - either peopel directly getting the food, or food banks preparing the food. We try to run such events every few months around our area. One time we went to make a large donation and the food bank had just 1 can of food left (for a city of 18,000 people). A lot of people don't realize how much a few $$ worth of food can go towards helping other people out.
    • I wonder why it is better for individuals to give food to these food banks instead of giving them cash? In many areas, food banks have plenty of food provided to them by food drives and by the food and grocery industry. The biggest needs of many food banks are volunteer help and money for non-food overhead things; such as salaries, utilities, storage space, transportation, fuel, etc. In those cases where food banks would need to purchase food, donating money allows the food bank to buy the specific type
      • Re:Food banks (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 18, 2005 @03:47PM (#14286536)
        I know in my area, most people forget the food bank collects money. There's always a lot of "Free with food donation" concerts and such, or food drives at the gorcery stores, even on busses, but it never gets mentioned that the food banks need money too.

        In addition to the reasons for cash you mentioned above, food banks are often needting to by perishables , such as milk, eggs, bread, meat, cheese and so on, in addition to whatever it's short of at any given time. Money is often invaluable to a food bank.

        My annual donation to the food bank is always in cash.
      • I really want to emphasize the desirability of canned meats and fish in that list. High quality protein is often lacking at food banks.
      • Re:Food banks (Score:5, Informative)

        by twiddlingbits ( 707452 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @07:07PM (#14287552)
        I have a close friend who works on the Board of our food bank here in N. Texas. She says give MONEY. As they can buy food for around 17 cents/pound in bulk from the mfgs and/or the Regional Food Bank. I can't think of anything in the Grocery store you can buy at that price. The list you provided is good, but add in Infant Formula/Baby Food, Powdered Milk, Hot Cereals (Oatmeal, Grits, Cream of Wheat), Salt/Pepper, Sugar, Condiments. Frozen Meats (such as those on-sale frozen Turkeys) are also good as they can feed a family for a week with one of those!
        • Frozen Meats (such as those on-sale frozen Turkeys) are also good as they can feed a family for a week with one of those!

          That's the truth. My Dad and I were actually having this conversation over Thanksgiving. Typically, my folks will buy at least two or three turkeys during the sales they have around Thanksgiving, when the price of turkey is ridiculously low. At that time of year, I think even the poorest family could buy a turkey and a bag of potatoes, and easily eat for a week.
    • Re:Food banks (Score:3, Informative)

      Bear in mind, if you donate 'nice' foods, as in anything nicer than cheap canned stuff and pasta, it usually will not make it's way to the poor served by the food bank, but will most likely go home with whomever works at the food bank. Not to impugne the services food banks offer, but if you want to help a hungry person or family, do it directly. Find a low-income/subsidized housing area, take some food with you, and give it away to those who need it. Or else, buy gift certificates for grocery stores, an
    • I give to the MercyWORKS ministry [vineyardeastgate.org] at my church because--being entirely volunteer staffed with ZERO overhead--ALL of the money goes directly to feeding, clothing, providing counseling and rent/utility bills assistance.

    • Re:Food banks (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Myself ( 57572 )
      And if they're reasonably large, they probably have options with local food stores to buy things at quantity discount. Why would you buy a few cans of food at the per-can price, when they could combine cash donations and get it at the per-pallet price? Furthermore, cash is easily converted into whatever type of food they need at the moment. Giving them specific types means they have to store them up until they have enough of whatever to make a batch of something.

      Of course, if you work for a food producer of
  • Charitable giving (Score:5, Informative)

    by ucblockhead ( 63650 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @02:52PM (#14286208) Homepage Journal
    I prefer to give my charitable dollars to the poor and infirm.

    I sometimes also give money to middle-class white geeks running software projects that benefit other middle-class white geeks because I want those projects to continue to exist. (I am, after all, a middle-class white geek.) But I don't delude myself into thinking that this is "charity" because when I give money to these projects, I benefit in that the project that produces something that I use is going to be able to advance faster.

    For example, giving money to the gnome people isn't "charity" unless you do not use gnome yourself.

    • Re:Charitable giving (Score:5, Interesting)

      by quizteamer ( 758717 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @03:01PM (#14286270)
      I prefer to give my charitable dollars to the poor and infirm.

      Its great to give money around Christmas to the poor and infirm, but if you don't have the extra cash (like me), another option is volunteering (and not just around the holidays).
      I spend 4-8 hours a week helping students with math and science at the "poor" high school in my city. I also play guitar in a band that goes to the local hospitals a few times a month.
      Giving money is good but its not your only option.
      • by ucblockhead ( 63650 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @03:07PM (#14286303) Homepage Journal
        Agreed! In fact, I'd say that giving money is the worst option. When you give time, you help directly, with nothing skimmed off the top.
        • >Agreed! In fact, I'd say that giving money is the worst option. When you give time, you help directly, with nothing skimmed off the top.

          While giving money certainly isn't the only option or the best option necessarily, that doesn't make it the worst option. Many charities require a combination of material donations, such as money, as well as donations of time through volunteering to be sucessful. Consider something like a soup kitchen. Its true that if it only gets material donations, it won't be
        • Nahh, giving money is often a very good option. Especially for highly trained, highly paid professionals ... you know the type, lawyers, plastic surgeons, et al. These people can easily make more than $100 per hour. They will do a lot more good for society if they work an hour and donate that $100 rather than donating an hour of their time handing out food for the homeless or cleaning up a park or whatever. Their donations of an hour's earnings could easily pay for fifteen people to do an hour of good w
        • I've started volunteering for my local volunteer fire department, and I think it is the best thing I could have done. I get to help out people in more than one way too. We do all sorts of community service events, and it is a great way to make new friends. You can't go wrong with the good old fashion volunteer FD, and most departments are always open to new help.
      • For the past couple of years I have designed and built databases for local area charities (for tracking donations, clients, volunteers, whatever). These people really need the help, have no freaking money, and are trying to good things for people. I don't have much money, but a little technical assistance goes a long way. These people really appreciate the help.
    • But I don't delude myself into thinking that this is "charity" because when I give money to these projects, I benefit in that the project that produces something that I use is going to be able to advance faster.

      When you give to homeless shelters, you don't have to step over bums on the street. When you give to Katrina funds, you help rebuild a community so it doesn't use social services in your area. When you give to the ACLU or the EFF, you benefit from the maintaining of freedom for everyone.

      We're all c
      • >We're all connected, and when you reduce the suffering -- or increase the joy -- anywhere in the world, it very well might somehow, somewhere, come back to help you personally.

        So why don't I just keep the money myself and help myself directly?

        Saying that giving to help a child in Africa and eventually, by some magical means, that will benefit me supports the same argument that if I keep my money and spend it on me will help that same child in Africa some way.
  • Be unselfish (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ishmalius ( 153450 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @03:00PM (#14286265)
    Maybe you address this in your article, but the server has turned to molten metal. So ignore this if I have it wrong, but: They made your life better? Whatever happened to altruism?

    I, for one, am giving to the Salvation Army. During the hurricanes, they did an enormous amount of thankless work. They did not receive the publicity of the Red Cross, but as is typical, they are the first to arrive and the last to leave. They work endless hours, seemingly tirelessly, and never lose their smiles. They shun self-promotion. These are truly wonderful people.

    • Re:Be unselfish (Score:4, Informative)

      by Caspian ( 99221 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @03:30PM (#14286425)
      [Salvation Army members] work endless hours, seemingly tirelessly, and never lose their smiles.

      Of course they don't. They're there to look happy and smiley so they can convert you [salvationarmyusa.org]. What did you think "salvation" referred to?

      If you aren't interested in giving significant sums of money to further one of the cause of Jesusism, may I suggest CARE [care.org], Goodwill [goodwill.org], or another secular charity?
      • Of course they want to spread the Gospel. They're a church. They're not trying to hide it, either; it's not as if they're converting people at the point of a sword, or being dishonest about their motives. And why should they not tell people about something they consider vitally important? Whether or not you believe their message to be true, they do, and they sincerely believe that everyone needs to hear it. And if it falls on deaf ears, they'll help you anyway. Their mission isn't "repent, or we won't
        • Re:Be unselfish (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Caspian ( 99221 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @04:33PM (#14286795)
          A lot of people who would never knowingly help a church are unaware that the SA is, in fact, one.
          • For the longest time, I thought the Red Cross was, too. Big cross, you know?

            It was only the recent publicity about the new "Red Crystal" logo that clued me in. Drives me nuts that people said the cross logo was no big deal and "had no religious connotation". Bullshit! It's a fairly recognizable religious symbol!
          • Re:Be unselfish (Score:5, Insightful)

            by inkey string ( 35594 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @06:28PM (#14287335) Homepage
            And I don't give a damn. If more churches acted like the SA (shunning promotion, attempting to illustrate the benefit of religion through selfless acts rather than shameless guilting) I would be a lot less leery of organized religion in general.

            Don't hate religion. There isn't anything terribly wrong with believing in a power beyond one's self and brotherhood with your fellow man. Hate the corruption and human fallibility that has wound tight over the millenia with the threads of innocent belief.
      • Re:Be unselfish (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mj2k ( 726937 )
        it is individuals such as yourself that give agnostics/atheists a bad name... the salvation army, just like the red cross, does a lot of good, and helps many people. I don't see any athiest organizations on the scale of the salvation army that exist, if so, please correct me. The salvation army doesn't walk up to you after a disaster and devise some "proselytise for aid" scheme, where you either convert or they walk away... They go out there, help people, and tell people why they are doing that(i.e. spre
        • I don't see any athiest organizations on the scale of the salvation army that exist, if so, please correct me.

          As far as I am aware, these guys [goodwill.org] are secular.

          And don't go saying "Oh, but they aren't 100% made up of atheists." Duh. As much as you'd like to think otherwise, lack of belief in any given God does not constitute a religion. Any organization with no religious ties (direct or indirect) is, by definition, a secular organization. Goodwill isn't an organization where everyone has to be atheistic, bu

          • I stand (sit) corrected. The Salvation Army is evidently between 1-2 powers of ten bigger than Goodwill. Of course, "bigger" doesn't mean "better".
        • I don't see any athiest organizations on the scale of the salvation army that exist, if so, please correct me.

          That's because atheism/agnosticism isn't a religious movement per se, it's a personal reaction against the perceived irrationality of religious movements. Most atheists and agnostics are not trying to push a certain set of beliefs onto people, but rather to prevent others from doing that; the idea is that people should be able to decide for themselves what to believe and what not to believe, an

      • ...Or, you know, if you're not a bitter and hateful ideologue, you could just go ahead and donate to the Salvation Army anyway. They do actually do good work, ya know? It's not like charity for the Lord is any less a heartfelt act of kindness.
    • Re:Be unselfish (Score:3, Informative)

      The Salvation Army is an excellent charitable organization. I donate to them every year instead of the Red Cross, not because I don't like the Red Cross, but because I feel the Salvation Army is more efficient with how they spend the money.

      We also donate to can drives, Toys for Tots (local charity), and the Humane Society. Food and clothing drives are the most important charities this time of year, since 100% of what you donate goes to people that really need those things. Donating to the Humane Society
      • Re:Be unselfish (Score:3, Informative)

        by ishmalius ( 153450 )
        Yes, I forgot to mention that part, that they have very low operating costs, so almost all of the donations go the the needy.

        By the way, the cynics might want to know that in all of our dealings with the Salvation Army this summer, I did not see them proseletyzing even a single time. Helping the people in distress seemed to be the only mission at hand. Here is a nice humorous article from a few weeks ago about another group, which I think actually gets the spirit of the relief effort fairly accurately [google.com].

      • Re:Be unselfish (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Secrity ( 742221 )
        Would you feel the same way if the public school wanted it's students to volunteer for the Westboro Baptist Church, the Black Ministerial Alliance, or Focus on the Family instead of the Salvation Army?
        • I honestly wouldn't have a problem with it in any situation, since I feel that helping people is far more important than being politically correct. I'm a very religious person, however, so I doubt many other slashdotters would agree.

          For those people, I still don't think most would take issue with schoolkids volunteering for the Salvation Army. I've volunteered once for them, and not once was anything religious mentioned to me. It's kind of like the YMCA... it's a Christian organization, but they're not t

          • Thank You for saying this, I would have been a lot less tactfull. The Salvation Army is a great organization. It helps those that no one else will. Does it have Christian trappings? Yup, but who else would fill thier shoes? IMHO they are Christianity at its best. I have trained my children to always put money in the kettle, even if it the last penny in thier pocket. They, of course don't get it yet, but I hope that they never need the SA either.


    • The Salvation Army is a missionary branch of the Christian church, that just happens to do charitable work. The Salvation Army Mission Statement reads:

      The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.

      I'm not about to perputrate the falsehood that religious pe

    • What about the Salvation Army social worker who claims that his supervisor harassed him because he is gay and Jewish and then fired him when he complained?

      Also, the Salvation Army has been lobbying to include a special provision that would allow them to discriminate against hiring homosexuals and still receive federal funding.
    • Re:Be unselfish (Score:2, Interesting)

      I'm sorry to hear that you garner no sense on pleasure or self satisfaction from your seemingly altruistic activities. I'm really not into doing things that I don't want to do, and I don't want to do things that make me feel bad, or even indifferent.

      I'm frightened of those who are ashamed to admit that they enjoy helping others or feel that somehow enjoying benevolent acts degrades those acts into not being 'true altruism.'

      By that definition, only someone with mental or emotional issues could commit acts o
      • Heh. Yes, you got me there. I confessed in a reply above. I saw an article in Scientific American once about the altruistic behaviour of bats, where he theorized that the benefit was the herd instinct, which we bipeds call a sense of community.
    • I donated to the SA as well back in September, because the timing was just about perfect. I needed to unload a car in a hurry that wasn't worth selling, and they obviously had a lot of work going on that needed funding. I didn't want to give to the Red Cross given various bad experiences friends have had with them firsthand. I tried the National Kidney Foundation, they wanted me to pay them to take the car away.

      So I called the SA. He said "well, I couldn't get anyone out there to pick it up till tomorro
  • by IANAAC ( 692242 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @03:01PM (#14286268)
    that taxes are a benevolent reason to give.
    • Re:Glad to see... (Score:4, Informative)

      by sid crimson ( 46823 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @03:20PM (#14286371)
      Well... ...by giving a tax deductable donation your money goes farther. I prefer to see good organizations like your local Salvation Army, church, or food bank get 100% of my donation than to keep 60% of it for myself.

      Uncle Sam needs to figure out how to do more with less. After all, he keeps counting on me to do the same.....

      • Re:Glad to see... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Guuge ( 719028 )
        Well... ...by giving a tax deductable donation your money goes farther.

        Yes, but the point is that the motivation behind your donation isn't all that benevolent if you're doing it just for the tax break.

        Uncle Sam needs to figure out how to do more with less.

        Good news! Uncle Sam is doing more and more, and has less in the bank than ever before!
        • Anyone giving anything simply for a tax break needs a clue -- they still wind up with less money. Anyone who takes issue with accepting the tax break should instead accept the tax break and give the saved tax amount as well... and should continue to give until the tax break runs out -- after all it's an opportunity to do more with less. Those opportunities are very few and far between.

          I have no problem accepting a tax deduction for giving. Nobody should have a problem with it. Take it if you want... lea
    • Corporations give tax purposes, Oprah & the rest of Hollywood give for PR, Chrisitans give because they think its a ticket to heaven, and middle class white people give to ease their concience. Its all selfish, but it doesn't mean that its not helpful. Isn't the point of society to reward people for doing the "right" thing?
  • EFF (Score:5, Informative)

    by wyldeone ( 785673 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @03:02PM (#14286273) Homepage Journal
    The site's dead, so I can't tell if this was on the list, but defintely everyone should consider donating to the eff [eff.org]. They have done so much good work protecting our digital rights and hopefully they'll be able to continue in the future.
  • by Mostly a lurker ( 634878 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @03:02PM (#14286281)
    I tried to RTFA, but the /. effect struck before I had a chance.

    An area, often forgotten, that has a huge impact on whether open source products are easily useable is documentation. In this respect, kudos to the OOo documentation project [openoffice.org] who have done a great job this year.

    Useful to a smaller group, but very useful to me this year, has been the excellent Linux Terminal Server Project Wiki [ltsp.org].

    The usefulness of the above resources is in sad contrast to the documentation available for most open source application software. I am very keen to make more use of some of these products, but a lack of good documentation is pretty much a show stopper.

  • Eric Laffoon is asking for donations towards the http://kdewebdev.org/ [kdewebdev.org] project. He's been sponsoring a full time developer for years out of his own pocket and could use some help.

    http://dot.kde.org/1134848565/ [kde.org]
  • Here's the article (Score:5, Informative)

    by Trip Ericson ( 864747 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @03:05PM (#14286295) Homepage
    Season's Givings

    Many people around the world plan their charitable giving around this time of the year, for religious, tax or other similarly benevolent reasons. As a geek who spends an inordinate amount of time with around his computer, these are the entities that have made my life easier in the past year and deserve all the recognition, money and general fulfillment of all Amazon Wish List desires:

    * Firefox : This has undoubtedly been the year of Firefox. If you aren't using it yet... what are you waiting for? With plugins, extensions, tabbed browsing, pop-up blocking and the fact that it's free and open for all make it the IE-killer that we've all been waiting for.
    Get FireFox | Get Involved | Donate

    * Wikipedia If this year was the year of Firefox, then Wikipedia was a close second. This is the largest single resource of information ever created by men. They are having their quarterly fund drive; please give generously. Become a contributor; and editor. Many people believe they don't know enough or need to be an expert in order to contribute meaningfully. You don't have to be. I'm no expert and I've written about my home town, my college, my favorite sports team, and other random stuff I find errors or omissions in. Give it a try and enjoy.

    * OpenOffice.org : By providing a viable, free and open option to the over-priced monopoly of MS Office, OO.o has shown us a world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible.

    * Fedora : The low-hassle Linux distribution that I've been using for a year or so; a worthy successor to the Red Hat name; easy to get up and running in addition to or in place of that MS OS of yesterday. Contribute

    * Gnucash : This year, there was life before Gnucash and then there was life after Gnucash. And life after has been undoubtedly better. This is a smash free and open source personal (and small business) financial accounting tool that blows everything else out of the water- mainly because it's free and extensible to do what you want it to. Gnucash, you've changed my life for the better. I may not save more money than I used to, but at least I know what I'm not saving money on.

    * Emacs : Emacs, you complete me. 'nuff said.

    * Adium : There was a time when I would have multiple messenger applications running at the same time. Then came Gaim. There was a time when Gaim was ugly; then came Adium, a tremendous messenger client for the Mac OS that looks great, is extensible (has great plugins) and is free/open.
    Donate (donate link at bottom of page)

    * NetNewsWire : This piece of software is one of the great RSS readers of the world (for the Mac). In the new year, I will be buying the full version. Easy to use, great to look at and powerful under the hood; this is the app that made turned me into an RSS junky.

    * Fink : Fink allows Mac OS to be more Unixey than it already is. With easy to install ports of all major UNIX/Linux packages through the command-line or GUI interface, Mac OS X without Fink is like Windows without Ctrl-Alt-Delete.

    * Brattle : The Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, Mass. is in trouble. If they can't put together enough funding to pay past debts and future leases, they will be closed by February 2006. This is unacceptable- the Brattle is one of few truly independent movie theatres in the country. Without Brattle I would have never seen Casablanca on the big screen and would not have the opportunity to see the 1930s Kin
    • Vim/Ugandan Orphans (Score:2, Informative)

      by fyoder ( 857358 )
      If we're going to include emacs, we should include vim -- equal time and all that.

      Bram Moolenaar isn't looking for donations to himself or the project, but would prefer vim users donate to iccf, an organization that helps kids in Kibaale, Uganda. Here's a link to a copy of the readme file [initd.org].

    • * Firefox : This has undoubtedly been the year of Firefox. If you aren't using it yet... what are you waiting for?

      I'll probably get banned from Slashdot for saying this but I'm not going to wait. It will be years before Firefox catches up to Opera, if ever.

  • in the spirit of Festivus, of course!
  • by SpyderPSU ( 582418 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @03:14PM (#14286339)
    http://www.childsplaycharity.org/ [childsplaycharity.org]
  • by ashitaka ( 27544 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @03:16PM (#14286356) Homepage
    You may be expecting a joke about putting up with a bunch of unruly 14-year-olds.

    Sorry, he deserves it [vancourier.com] .

    Details here [hopeforthenations.com].
  • by PurifyYourMind ( 776223 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @03:18PM (#14286363) Homepage
    Why not volunteer at a school in a low income neighborhood? I'm sure young people would love to have an expert computer resource at their disposal. And what better audience for free/open source ideas?
  • Ubuntu (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Risen888 ( 306092 )
    Whether it's your cup of tea or not, at this moment, no one but no one is building the Linux user base like these guys. The inroads they've been making into what is historically a Microsoft market of end-users are phenominal, and that helps everyone.

    And don't get me wrong, they'll take your money with smiles on their faces and love in their hearts, but what they'd really love for Christmas is a little of your time and talent.
  • Self-Sufficiency (Score:4, Interesting)

    by turtledawn ( 149719 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @03:26PM (#14286403)
    I really like Heifer International (http://www.heifer.org./ [www.heifer.org] You're giving the gift of self-sufficiency to people that really want it: participants ask for help, and recieve training, assistance in building livestock pens and equipment, and depending on their individual and community situation at least one female livestock animal appropriate to their environment. The only thing Heifer asks from the participants in return is that they pass on an equivalent gift to another needy family, in the form of training or the first female offspring of their gift animal. Heifer works all over the world, including the poorer areas of the United States: they have a map on their site that shows current active projects. Due to the nature of their work they have to be in fairly stable areas -you don't want your newly-gifted goats to be stolen and fed to soldiers after all- but those are often the regions that seem to need the most help and that no one know s_how_ to help.

    If it helps build their credibility, Heifer has been a Motley Fool choise philanthopy for at least two years now.
    • ::applause::

      The church I attended down in Virginia gave a ``Noah's Ark'' each year --- the letters, cards and pictures the priest would get from recipients were really charming.

      Each recipient is also expected to donate in kind to others a certain number of their animal's off-spring. As a proof of the long-lasting nature of such giving, over half of the chickens in South Korea are descended from chicks and eggs donated by Heifer Intl. directly after the Korean War.

  • Another Idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by keithmo ( 453716 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @03:29PM (#14286420) Homepage
    • Take 10 $100 bills.
    • Spend one day giving them (anonymously, if you wish) to people you see every day who make your life easier and who could really use the money. The "single mother" waitress who keeps your coffee cup filled at your favorite breakfast place. The anonymous immigrant who cleans the bathroom at your office. The teenage student who sacks your groceries when not studying for an exam. The elderly person working at the fast-food joint because they cannot survive on their retirement benefits.

    These are the faceless people who keep our society running. We all depend on them.

    No, you cannot deduct these donations from your taxes, but fuck it. Do it anyway.

  • I usually give to Child Haven International [childhaven.ca], because I've met the organizers on several occasions and they're very dedicated to helping disadvantaged children.

    Later in the year I usually make a small contribution to one geeky project (last year it was mozdev), and to my progressive political party of choice.
  • These are the projects that have been worthy of my money. There are donation links and methods of payment listed:
    http://arc.nucapt.northwestern.edu/F/OSS [northwestern.edu]
  • Fire! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @03:49PM (#14286545)
    The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education [thefire.org] works to protect the free speech rights of students across the U.S., with a special focus on public colleges and universities, which are bound by Constitutional mandate to preserve freedom of speech. They are especially in need of donations from people who've already moved on to start their careers, since college students typically don't make that much money.

  • The infamous [komar.org] (!) christmas lights webcam [komar.org] is raising money for Celiac Disease Research [celiaccenter.org] at the University of Maryland. There is also a whimsical eBay auction [ebay.com] of "The Webcam that Fooled the World" - again, 100% of proceeds to charity.

    And oh yeah, I've got five 100 Mbps servers (1/2 Gig of bandwidth!) this year, so my site hasn't melted down like the one linked to in this article has ... ;-)

  • by toekneeshops ( 727799 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @04:05PM (#14286640)
    There is a wonderful non-profit that is based in the U.S. but is growing worldwide called SeniorNet (see http://www.seniornet.org/ [seniornet.org] which teaches older people how to use computers. If you have a local Seniornet Learning Center, you can donate time teaching or coaching classes, you can donate useable equipment, or you can donate money. You may even be able to just donate technical advice. You would not believe the look of happiness on old folks' faces when they find pictures of their grandkids on the Internet for the first time, or they find out there is a support community for their particular painful disorders. Volunteer! It's a great help and a great feeling!
  • Think about how many Africans will die (malnourishment, diseases) because you use your "charity" budget on stuff that makes your life better.

    Think about exactly why you would be outraged if millions of people died of hunger or cold (think Pakistan) in your country, yet this is not such a big deal if it happens far enough away.

    Think about how much suffering could be prevented if you gave 10% of your income, how little suffering that would cause you, and why you (like most people) consider it okay to give

  • Habitat for Humanity (Score:3, Informative)

    by Comatose51 ( 687974 ) on Sunday December 18, 2005 @04:13PM (#14286691) Homepage
    I'm a core volunteer for Habitat and it is definitely one of my favorite charities. It's very unique in that it provides housing but also makes the recipients get involved as helping themselves and their neighbors. The way it works is that the recipient must volunteer for X number of hours with Habitat and they end up either working on the home they'll move into or one of their neighbors' homes since Habitat tends to build entire neighborhoods. So they end up knowing each other from the start.

    It's also great for those who want to help but don't have the extra cash. It helps me meet some great people who I would normally never meet and I've met a few "nerds" (professors, engineers, etc). The only caveat is that Habitat is a Christian organization but they're pretty light on that and never presses anyone on religion. I'm a devout atheist and have enjoyed working with other volunteers who are often church affliated.

    It's a little late to do it now for the holiday season since a house takes some time to complete but try it for the next holiday season. One can imagine the emotion when the key is handed over to the new owners during the holiday season.

  • http://www.msf.org/ [msf.org] Nobel peace prize winners helping african orphans, how much better can it get?
  • If you are a Christian and looking for somewhere to give, I am a part of the I.T. group for the world's largest evangelical mission group. You don't even need to get up from where you are sitting right now if you would like to help us out. You can just go here [ccci.org]

    Our web site has more info. [thepeckfamily.us]
  • Project Gutenberg (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CaptKilljoy ( 687808 )
    Project Gutenberg [gutenberg.org] is my charity of choice. What could be greater than giving the world access to the collected works of the worlds great thinkers and writers?
  • Well, I've typically gotten geeky gifts for Toys for Tots. (i.e. Some kid got a Game Boy last year...) My main reason for this for this was that my dad did not make lots of money when I was growing up. Things like NES's were well out of my father's range to purchase. One day, though, he scraped together enough to get me a used Game Boy. Not long after, I developed a strong interest in game programming and found a whole new use for the computer he had gotten me. (this was partly fueled by not having a
  • BitTorrent [bittorrent.com]!

    Wikipedia is a good choice, especially given the founder having just been murdered by the wife of that stupid Op-Ed columnist. I find it ironic the way this turned violent given how outraged he was at being associated with the Kennedy assassination.
  • Free Geek is a computer recycling and community technology center in Portland Oregon who re-uses old computers and give them to those who cant' afford them and to non-profits. They are an entirely Linux shop as it makes it easier to give computers away if they have Linux on them.
  • NeoOffice is a Java port of OpenOffice.org that runs on Mac OS X without the need for X11.

    This means that it uses Mac OS X's fonts and font rendering, which is a huge improvement over X11. It has Mac OS X menus, and will get Mac OS X dialog boxes "real soon now".

    It's excellent, and it's been developed by two, count them two, programmers for the last couple of years.

    http://neooffice.org/ [neooffice.org]

    They are separate from OpenOffice.org and they've done what nobody at OpenOffice.org was willing to do.

    I use NeoOffice ever
  • Many of the comments here are condemning the article submitter for wanting to give to giving money to open-source projects, saying that he should instead give money to, say, starving orphans in Africa or South America. I think people would do well to read a recent op-ed [nytimes.com] in the NY Times (commentary in WorldChanging [worldchanging.com]) by a former Peace Corps worker in Africa about why just dumping money in poor countries isn't such a good thing. Some quotes:

    It seems to have been Africa's fate to become a theater of empty talk

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.