Christmas is fast approaching and Mother Nature threw a curve ball to those who live on the East Coast with a storm that crippled traffic and kept everyone out of the malls.

Since this is the season of giving, I thought I’d list a few of my favorite charities as possible last-minute gift ideas. Donating to a charity in someone else’s name is a thoughtful and long-lasting gift that should make anyone feel good inside. I’ve chosen a diverse group of charities in the hopes you can find the perfect one for the person on your list that already “has everything.”

Please check them out. These are all great charities that you may have never heard of – but all are making a difference. Without further ado, here are my favorite charities of 2009 in no particular order:

1. Days End Farm Horse Rescue This facility in Lisbon, Md., not only rescues mistreated and neglected horses, it has grown into a national rescue and rehabilitation facility that has increased its focus to include humane education. It also undertakes national disaster and large animal rescue and offers training for others. This charity has a 4-STAR rating from Charity Navigator for sound fiscal management. (Less than a quarter of the thousands of charities that Charity Navigator has rated receive this rating for sound fiscal management).
More info:

2. Victory Junction Gang: Victory Junction, which opened in June of 2004, honors NASCAR driver Kyle Petty’s late son, Adam, who died in a May 2000 crash at New Hampshire International Speedway. Kyle is the son of legendary driver Richard Petty. Victory Junction enriches the lives of children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses by providing life-changing camping experiences that are exciting, fun, and empowering, in a safe and medically-sound environment. More than 4,000 children came to Victory Junction this year.
For more info:

3. St. Jude Hospital: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, founded by the late entertainer Danny Thomas, is one of the world’s premier centers for the research and treatment of pediatric cancer and other catastrophic childhood diseases. Children from all 50 states and around the world have come through the doors of St. Jude for treatment, and thousands more have benefited from the research conducted at St. Jude. St. Jude is the only pediatric cancer research center where families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance. No child is ever denied treatment because of the family’s inability to pay.
More info:

4. Fisher House: Because members of the military and their families are stationed worldwide and must often travel great distances for specialized medical care, Fisher House™ Foundation donates “comfort homes,” built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers. These homes enable family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful times – during the hospitalization for an unexpected illness, disease, or injury. When I first started giving to this charity there were only a few houses, but now there is at least one Fisher House™ at every major military medical center. They can always use monetary funds as well as gifts to support the houses and phone cards.
More info:

5. Civil War Preservation Trust: The Civil War Preservation Trust is America’s largest non-profit organization (501-C3) devoted to the preservation of our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields. The Trust also promotes educational programs and heritage tourism initiatives to inform the public of the war’s history and the fundamental conflicts that sparked it. It has saved thousands of acres from development and sprawl.
For more information:


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