The Gift Of Giving: Four non-profits worth your support this holiday season

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This is the time of year when people are in a giving mood. This could mean helping someone less fortunate or donating to a non-profit organization. Obviously there’s the more popular ones like the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Toys For Tots and various food banks, but there are other ones that affect a lot of people in our scene, whether it’s musicians, artists, athletes or actors.

We chose four non-profit organizations, covering issues like cancer, addiction, depression, recovery and sexuality.

HeartSupport

HeartSupport was founded and started by August Burns Red frontman Jake Luhrs several years ago. The non-profit religious organization is based around helping music fans recover, whether it’s from addiction, self-harm, depression or abuse, and showing them that their favorite bands also go through the same struggles and music can help. Luhrs keeps HeartSupport separate from August Burns Red, while using stories from the band’s own members and friends they’ve met along the way.

HeartSupport uses music to create a community and support people who are struggling and trying to recover. On the “Start Here” page of the website, it states that music is “the constant in our lives” and continues to talk about how it can help people then it leads to a video message from Luhrs:

HeartSupport already provides four different programs including Celebrate Recovery/The 12 Steps, Storyline/Gallups StrengthsFinder, XXXchurch and Door Of Hope, but has just finished fundraising for the Restore Program. According to the fundraiser page, “The program itself has six modules with band interviews, round-table discussion and analysis, and an accompanying workbook. The program content covers various struggles an individual might be facing depression, relationship issues/broken heart, cutting/self-harm, addiction, anxiety, abuse,” and much more.

Luhrs told us a little bit more about it: “HeartSupport has its own six-step program called ‘Restore,’ which is to help kids find their deep wounds, recognize their habits and brings them through a process of redefining their inner belief of themselves. Each of the steps has an interview from a band member within our music scene telling a story of how they persevered through a personal struggle, once again bringing the musician to a level of vulnerability in which the viewer can relate and understand.”

HeartSupport uses stories from bands like Family Force 5, Motionless In White, the Devil Wears Prada, Black Veil Brides, the Color Morale, Motion City Soundtrack, Hawthorne Heights and many more.

What makes HeartSupport different from other organizations designed to help people with recovery? “HeartSupport is an actual community of people who all have struggles,” Luhrs explains. “It gives the kid that comes to HeartSupport the freedom to interact with others on their own accord. The great thing is we’ve seen kids come to HeartSupport with a problem, discuss it on our support wall, then within a couple months, is posting on other kids’ stories to encourage them. They don’t have to tell anyone who they are and aren’t obligated to meet anyone or go anywhere, so it is easier and more comfortable to be able to tell their struggles on a screen rather than having to tell anyone face to face.

“We also have a no-judgment policy on site so kids will only receive encouragement and be uplifted, not shamed or guilted for what information they choose to reveal,” he continues. “I have always said, ‘It doesn’t matter the color of your skin, who you are in love with, what you believe, what you’ve done or what has been done to you, you are accepted at HeartSupport.’ We also have bands that have come alongside HeartSupport that have been willing to do videos, post blogs and communicate to certain levels with kids at HeartSupport. Something that not any other program or organization has.”

You can help out HeartSupport by donating, buying merch or volunteering. “We have a volunteer team where people can help with fundraisers, projects and build relationships in the community on our Support Wall,” Luhrs explains. “This is where most of the interaction between the community takes place. If you’d like to become a volunteer, please email us at info@heartsupport.com.”

Keep A Breast Foundation

Keep A Breast is a non-profit organization that uses art and educational programs to raise awareness of prevention and early detection of breast cancer. They are currently celebrating their 15-year anniversary.

Breast cancer doesn’t just affect women, but also men. “Breast cancer is a disease that happens to the entire family, it’s not just the person who is diagnosed,” says founder and global CEO Shaney jo Darden. “Men want to do everything they can to protect their sisters, wives and their children. Men can also get breast cancer. Keep A Breast is an organization that men can identify with, and through supporting the foundation, they can also feel like they are supporting the women they love.”

Keep A Breast is a popular sight at events like Warped Tour and SXSW, where the organization can easily reach out to young people about detection and prevention. “On Warped Tour, we have the opportunity to educate through an experience that teens remember, it makes a bigger impact than just a tweet or a Facebook post,” Darden explains.

The organization receives support from celebrities and musicians including Pierce The Veil, All Time Low, David Arquette, We Are The In Crowd, Cassadee Pope (Hey Monday), Anthony GreenAndrew W.K. and Juliet Simms.

Keep A Breast recently expanded into the Non Toxic Revolution, which is designed to educate young people about the toxins they’re putting in their body that are linked to cancer. “We’ve broken down something that is really complex and scary to bulleted, easily digestible information so people can be empowered to make simple changes in their lives that will help reduce their risk,” Darden tells us.

You can support Keep A Breast by donating, buying merch or volunteering for the Keep A Breast traveling education booth.

The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project is a non-profit organization founded 1998 that focuses on suicide prevention in young people in the LGBTQ+ community with online programs, a texting system, phone line and counselors. Their target demographic are people who are between the ages of 13 and 24, but the Trevor Project also assists people outside of that range.

“The phone lifeline tends to get more people over the age of 24 than the text or chat system,” explains Vice President of Programs for the Trevor Project, David Bond. “Our target demographic is age 13 to 24. The crisis chat program and crisis text program, more than 95 percent of its users fall within that age demographic. The intervention is the same regardless of the platform that someone would choose to use. No matter what platform they choose to use, they’ll get a well-trained volunteer counselor.”

The Trevor Project provides different services to help teens who need help or need someone to talk to. TrevorChat and TrevorText lets teens who aren’t comfortable talking over the phone the option to instant message or text a volunteer counselor trained to assist them. There’s also the Trevor Lifeline, which is a 24/7 suicide prevention call center.

The Trevor Support Center is designed more for teens who are beginning to question their sexuality and are looking for answers, whether it’s about crushes, coming out, mental health or terms you’re not familiar with. There’s also resources and educational programs available for teens and adults.

The Trevor Project has received support from celebrities like Anne Hathaway, Victoria Justice, Janet JacksonDaniel Radcliffe, Lady Gaga, Nate Ruess of fun., Ellen DeGeneres, Katy PerryChris Colfer and YouTuber Tyler Oakley. The non-profit has used the tagline “It Gets Better” in their PSAs, done by a lot of these celebrities.

You can support give to the Trevor Project by donating, sharing their resources with people who need them, fundraising and volunteering which includes events such as Pride, TrevorLIVE and fundraisers.

To Write Love On Her Arms

To Write Love On Her Arms is a non-profit organization aimed in giving people hope and assisting in recovery from addiction, depression and self-harm and providing suicide prevention. TWLOHA has been around since 2006 and was inspired by a story founder Jamie Tworkowski wrote after spending time with a friend while they began treatment. Since that time, the organization has saved countless lives by telling others’ stories and providing suicide prevention resources for young people.

“We are there to encourage, inform and inspire as well as invest financially into avenues for treatment and recovery,” explains Music/Event Coordinator Chad Moses. “Many people who are hurting don’t ask for help. For some, they don’t know if they are allowed to ask, and others don’t know who to ask. So we step forward as a voice of advocacy, compassion and information. The end goal for us is for people to find consistent and intentional relationships within their own community.”

TWLOHA is another recognizable sight at Warped Tour and has spent several summers traveling across North America to reach people. “We like to be wherever people come together—whether that is on a college campus, online, or at a live music event,” Moses comments. “The fact of the matter is we don’t exist at events like Warped just for the paying attendees—we are also there for the staff, the bands and the crew.”

TWLOHA receives support and has helped bands and celebrities such as Switchfoot, Anberlin, Thrice, Jared Padalecki, OneRepublic, Miley Cyrus and Boys Like Girls.

Even though the name of the organization contains the word “her,” but doesn’t focus how helping people who identify as female. “The name wasn’t crafted in theory or from stereotypes, but it was originally the name of a story written about a real ‘Her’—a young woman named Renee,” Moses tells us. “The story was about Renee’s first five days in recovery from cocaine addiction and finding help with self-injury, but beyond that it was an invitation to the reader into the life and journey of an individual. That emphasis on the individual is really [the] foundation to our work. We have no hope of addressing topics like suicide, addiction, eating disorders, depression or self-injury if we are not in tune with the specific people who may be affected by these issues. As a male who struggled with self-injury, I was just happy to see this issue being addressed period, where a person was treated as a person and not a pariah or a problem to be fixed. Our name is simply the context through which our organization emerged, not a statement on who does or does not feel pain. Pain is part of being human, but so is community and hope and a belief in better days.”

You can support TWLOHA by sharing their blogs, buying merch, donating or helping the organization with their fundraiser for their INTO 2016 campaign to celebrate their 10-year anniversary.

During this holiday season, don’t forget to give back. These organizations don’t just help people in our community, but communities around the world.