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Published on December 14th, 2009 | by Sharilyn Johnson


Charity Choices: Giving With Joy

Christmakuh is the season of giving. And for those lucky enough to have disposable income in this economy, hopefully some of that “giving” will be to charity.

There is no shortage of worthy causes out there. It can be a little intimidating, really. If you have no particular charity close to your heart, how do you choose? If you’re a passionate comedy lover, here are a few options for donating your dollars through more joyful channels.

United Service Organization (USO)
With a long tradition of providing entertainment to American troops serving overseas, most recently the USO has delivered laughs overseas from comedians like Stephen Colbert, Lewis Black, Rob Riggle, Dane Cook, Drew Carey, and many more.

Comic Relief
Talkin’ about the UK version here, which is massive over there and does a great job raising money to fight poverty around the world, particularly through their annual Red Nose Day. The American version of Comic Relief (famous for its Billy/Robin/Whoopi galas of the 80s) seems to be on hold.

Gilda’s Club
The mission of Gilda Radner’s namesake is “to create welcoming communities of free support for everyone living with cancer – men, women, teens and children – along with their families and friends.” Donations can be made to the organization in general, or region-specific by clicking “Our Clubhouses” and visiting the respective websites.

Chris Farley Foundation
Run by family members, the foundation “develops communications-based prevention programs that deliver messages regarding the dangers of substance abuse” — basically giving presentations to students. They seem to be having domain expiration issues, but donations can be snail mailed c/o 1213 N. Sherman Avenue #215 / Madison, WI / 53704.

Bill Hicks Foundation for Wildlife Rehabilitation
Donate to the Hicks Foundation in Texas, and not only will you help rehabilitate animals, but you’ll also receive Bill Hicks merchandise. It’s like PBS, but way more badass (yet heartwarming).

Clown care
Children’s hospital clown programs exist throughout Canada and the US (and the world!). A few examples are at Sick Kids in Toronto, and the biggest fish in that pond: the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit in New York. You should be able to find a program near you in desperate need of donations.

Clown travel
Clowns Without Borders operates out of San Francisco, and “offers laughter to relieve the suffering of all persons, especially children, who live in areas of crisis including refugee camps, conflict zones and territories in situations of emergency.” Circus Without Borders is a Toronto-based organization with a similar mandate, with a wider focus on all circus arts.

And if you happen to read this before Monday afternoon, you can still get in on the mouth-watering Comedy Death-Ray Christmas Charity Auction, in support of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. Seriously, these prizes are crazy good, and I wish I had the cash to bid on all of it.

About the Author

is the author of the book Bears & Balls: The Colbert Report A-Z. Called "one of the city’s most discriminating comedy critics” by NOW Magazine, Sharilyn has been covering comedy for longer than she cares to admit. She served as the comedy reporter for Winnipeg's Uptown Magazine for five years, and was the host of the radio show Laugh Tracks for three seasons. Her work has also appeared in the Toronto Star, the Winnipeg Free Press, The Apiary, and on CBC Radio's national comedy programs LOL and Definitely Not the Opera.

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