Editor’s note: One very important aspect of a free society is charity. Organizations that do good and people who need help rely on the giving of others to sustain themselves. Since we at TOL advocate for a free society, we also advocate for giving, particularly around the holiday season. With that spirit in mind, we are going to spend this week telling you about our favorite charitable organizations to help guide some of your end-of-the-year giving. Check out Gina’s recommendations! If you’re hankering for more giving, check out the rest of our giving series!

Before you ask—no, Thoughts on Liberty does not currently take donations. I feel like owning and operating TOL is a privilege, and even if it did, I’d prefer to use my position as editor-in-chief to call for the donations to people and organizations that truly need and deserve your help. With that in mind, let’s start.

Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)

For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you know I have a gorgeous black house cat names Sirius Lee Toph who occupies my waking (and sometimes sleeping) hours with his bowties, somersaults, and general kitty antics. The truth is that I would not have met this wonderful ball of fluff if it weren’t for the great people at PAWS. PAWS is Philly’s largest no-kill shelter and is temporary home for the city’s abandoned, homeless, and unwanted pets. They are most famous for their shelter in Old City with open windows that let cats peer out at passersby and show off their stuff for a new home. PAWS is run by truly amazing people, and if you can’t afford to bring your own furball into your life, I ask that you please consider donating to PAWS (or your local no-kill shelter) to help these animals find the home they need.

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Philabundance

I have eaten food from a food bank. I have received food, money, and other charity from the community I lived in. My apartment is right above Logan Square in Philadelphia, and every weekend I see throngs of people in the parks, waiting to be fed. It’s tempting to think of these people as “layabouts,” “bums” and “drug addicts,” but remember that the mentally and physically disabled, LGBT people who have been homeless since youth, people who have been to prison and—particularly in the recession—people who are just down on their luck are in those lines as well. Even if homeless people were all of those things, it doesn’t make them beneath human compassion and charity. With that in mind, I highly encourage you to consider donating to your local homeless shelter or local food bank. Please also remember that it is not uncommon for some of these groups to discriminate against LGBT people or unmarried cohabiting couples, so please be sure to give your conscience and do your research.

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Institute for Humane Studies (IHS)

I truly believe that the solution for human suffering is a free market. Human beings flourish when they are free to contract as they will, and markets get people the goods and services that they need to bring them out of poverty. There are a multitude of free market organizations you could donate to, but for my part, I would highly recommend the Institute for Humane Studies. I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today without IHS. From the first summer seminar I attended in 2010, through the completion of the Koch Summer Fellowship Program in 2011, to short weekend seminars and webinars throughout the year, nothing has been more instrumental to my intellectual or career development than this organization. Their newest endeavors include informative videos at LearnLiberty, through which they run their “Liberty is Personal” campaign, an attempt to reach out to people with a human face. If you care about the future of liberty, IHS is where you want to put your money.

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