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 Maddie’s recommendations!

Maddie’s Guide to End-of-the-Year Giving

As you’re trying to squeeze in those last-minute tax-deductible charitable gifts, I would suggest one of my favorite non-profits, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, also known as FIRE. FIRE defends free speech and academic freedom on college campuses across the US. They assist students in cases where their constitutional rights have been breached. Whether it is the case that sparked the creation of FIRE where a UPenn student was charged with racial harassment for calling someone a water buffalo or assisting Hayden Barnes after he was expelled from Valdosta State for an environmental protest flyer, the badasses at FIRE work hard to make sure that young people today enjoy freedom.

The really cool thing about giving to FIRE, though, is that you aren’t just giving to an organization; you’re giving to college students all across the country. When I speak at school, or take a controversial class, or plan a demonstration or campaign that might be thought-provoking (read: “offensive”), I know that FIRE would have my back if I was ever in any trouble for what I said or the messages that my communication conveyed. My confidence in expressing myself comes from the education that I gained from attending FIRE’s conferences and interning there this past summer.

All throughout my stint in public school before college, I was taught that I didn’t have rights. So much for Tinker! HA! However, post-FIRE experience, I know my rights, and my peers know them as well, since I constantly remind them whenever they experience anything even remotely reminiscent of censorship.

Working at FIRE was one of the most intellectually and emotionally challenging positions I have ever had. Why? Because FIRE is principled. FIRE is a non-partisan organization, and they stick to it. No matter the content or the political leaning of the speech, as long as it is constitutionally protected, FIRE will defend the freedom of speech. Even when defending student speech that is…let’s say…less than popular (such as the culturally appropriating and insensitive Cal Poly frat bros), the folks at FIRE protect students rights. Speech doesn’t have to be polite or respectful to be protected. FIRE recognizes the importance of principle.

So this winter season, consider helping FIRE defend individual rights for college students and professors. Contributions don’t just support freedom; they support the efficacy that today’s young people need to recognize, enact, and fight for said freedom.