Giving Back To The Places You Love Best

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One of the greatest things all my travel has given me is a love for the places I’ve visited (except for Papeete) and a desire to help the people who live there (particularly Papeete). The hard thing is knowing how best to help. Obviously supporting the local economy by staying at hotels, eating at restaurants, shopping local markets, etc helps, but for me, that’s never quite satisfying enough.

I’d like to do something directly to actually make life better. Like in the US, I never know if the people begging in the street actually need it (they probably do) and even helping them out for a night isn’t a long term solution. Fortunately I’ve found charities that are making a long term difference in some of the places I love.

I’m just as judicious with my donations as my miles, so it’s important to me that I find charities that are actually using a majority of the funding for providing assistance vs fundraising. Here are some of my favorites:

Wheels for the World — this one means alot to me. It’s part of the Christian organization Joni & Friends, with a mission of providing wheelchairs to disabled people across the world, including Thailand. Thailand is my favorite place to go. I love the country and I love the Thai people. Unfortunately, like many countries, disabilities there are particularly shameful. This program provides wheelchairs to people who otherwise wouldn’t have access, and more importantly, it gives them a sense of dignity and of being loved.

My heart aches every time I take a tour through the Thai countryside and see people living in poverty or disabled people begging on the street corner. I don’t know how best to help them but at least through this organization I can know I’m doing something to provide hope.

Compassion International — for $38 a month you can adopt a child. Sponsorship provides food and clean water, medical care, opportunities to attend school, life skills training, and more. They have special efforts for children up to 20 years of age who are in areas prone to HIV or child exploitation. This is another Christian organization, but even if you’re not, the work they’re doing is good and you can do one-time donations to support general efforts to help mothers and babies, fund college leadership programs, etc.

Kiva — I love the concept of Kiva because you can provide hope and encouragement to entrepreneurs across the globe through $25 micro loans. And I can fund people in my favorite destinations, as well as places I will probably never go like Kyrkistan or Irag.

I’m honored to be a part of the amazingly generous Milepoint team who is currently trying to hit $5 million in loans in the month of April. If you join using this link, we’ll both get $25 towards a loan. As an extra incentive, but not the sole reason to give, you’ll be eligible for weekly drawings each week you give in April, including a bonus draw on April 30 with a grand prize of guaranteed early booking for StarMegaDo 5 or EuroDo.

Milepoint Cares —  I first heard about this on the StarMegaDo4 when the organizers generously started us off with $50 in free donations. This site lets you connect nonprofit organizations in multiple countries working on a variety of causes/issues. I was particularly drawn to it because it gives access to local charities rather than national ones. Before this I was not aware of Dream Catcher Therapy in Olathe, CO that provides therapy through horses or of Children’s Restoration Network that provides services in Roswell, GA not far from where I went to college.  Definitely worth checking out.

What are your favorite charities and why?


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Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.


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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world. www.twitter.com/klatravel

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