When I was a kid, which was sometime before movable type was invented, I always looked forward to the week after Thanksgiving when The (failing) New York Times would begin its annual Neediest Cases campaign. I loved reading stories about how New Yorkers battled against deprivations of all kinds and what they did to overcome social and economic distress. A And best of all, Dad would send a donation to the fund – in my name!
Last year I came across a new version of this campaign, which is the handiwork of our friend, Nick Kristof, who started his effort while he was working for the Times. It’s a campaign called Nick Kristof’s Holiday Impact Prize, and you can get involved and support this very important and worthwhile giving effort right here: Kristof Impact | Supporting little-known organizations working to make the world a better place. Nicholas Kristof Impact Initiative.
To a certain extent, Nick’s initiative is a little like the Neediest Cases campaign except that every year he selects organizations rather than individuals who can use some help. And I don’t know how he finds out about these organizations, but they share certain attributes which make them particularly important and worthy of support.
First and most important, these organizations are doing work that is very valuable and delivers necessary services to people in need. Second, and perhaps even more important, these organizations deal with specific social needs and with specific populations that are not usually addressed by the larger, more mainstream organizations. So the organizations on Nick's list exist financially, so to speak, on the edge.
This year Nick has chosen three organizations which I never knew existed until I received an email from Nick asking me to respond to the campaign. The lead organization, Seva, delivers sight-restoring cataract surgery to residents of more than 20 countries, as well as Native American communities here at home. As someone who will be facing cataract surgery next year, I can tell you that without this medical intervention, my work would come to an end. But I’ll have my surgery at a fancy, outpatient eye clinic and the cost will be covered by my fancy, private insurance policy.
So, I don’t need Seva, but there are millions of people around the world who do. Here’s their website: Nicholas Kristof Selects Seva as Grand Prize Winner of his Holiday Impact Prize - Seva Foundation.
You probably don’t have the faintest idea that the ongoing civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo has resulted in a major, health crisis for women who have suffered from rape or birth-related complications. Don’t ask me why countries with the worst human rights abuses always stick the word ‘democratic’ into their name, but that’s the way it goes.
Anyway, there’s an organization in Congo, the Panzi Foundation, whose chief activity involves giving medical help, therapy, and life-rebuilding skills to such women, and since 1999 this organization has treated more than 85,000 women and young girls.
Here’s their website: Kristof Impact Prize - Panzi Foundation.
The third organization that made Kristof’s Holiday Impact list this year operates in cities throughout the United States. The organization is called Per Scholas, and what they do is link up inner-city high school graduates with companies which will train these kids for hi-tech jobs.
I was astonished to learn that millions of inner-city people have earned a high school diploma, but it gets them annual earnings on the job market of $25,000. That’s ridiculous. We tell these kids to stay in school and then we reward them for their efforts by paying them what they would get by banging out license plates in the county jail.
You can see what the Per Scholas program is all about right here: Per Scholas Named 2021 Nicholas Kristof Holiday Impact Prize Honoree - Per Scholas.
My father held good jobs all his life and supported a wife and five kids in an affluent style. But he was a very modest man, and I don’t think a day went by when he didn’t mention the problems of some unfortunate individual and would conclude by saying “there but for the grace of God go I.”
All of us need to be reminded that we have what we have because of God’s grace. And we should take some time today to think about God’s grace and send a donation to Nick’s campaign: Kristof Impact | Supporting little-known organizations working to make the world a better place. Nicholas Kristof Impact Initiative.
I sent my donation last night and I’m asking all of you to do it today.