Today, in honor of Giving Tuesday, I want to encourage everyone to think about either making a donation, or volunteering for a good cause in your area.  There are so many wonderful ways to give back to your community, and especially during the holidays, those of us that can, need to help those that are less fortunate.

Each month in 2013, I tried to feature on Making It Last at least one local non-profit in our area, but this month during the holiday season I will be highlighting three: (1) Mentoring Today; (2) DC Campaign Against Teen Pregnancy and (3) New Beginnings.  There are so many great causes out there, but the ones that go to my core are children, education, and healthy families.  Here are ones we highlighted in past episodes:

College Tracks, which is based in Betheseda, and helps kids through the college application process.

PEP, which is based in Kensington and provides parent education programs.

Manna, which is a food bank based in Gaithersburg, MD.

Living Classrooms, which has programs in both Baltimore and DC that teach kids that will not go on to college trade skills so they can earn a living.

Living in Pink, which is based in Bethesda and was founded by a breast cancer survivor to raise funds for cancer research.

Becky’s Fund, which is based in DC and raises awareness to prevent domestic violence.

Junior Achievement, which is a nationwide organization that promotes financial literacy for kids in grades K-12.

Women’s Bar Assoc. Foundation in both MD and DC is the charitable arm of the WBA, which gives scholarships to women that want to pursue a legal degree.

DC Lawyers for Youth, which seeks to reform the juvenile deliquency system and advocates for public policy changes that will distribute funds in a more efficient way.

Although I lacked the means to give to all these wonderful causes, I certainly gave as much as I could of my time and energy– and not just with the shows.  For the last five years, I have guest lectured at my alma maters, and this year I was also able to connect with the Fresh Start students at Living Classrooms and teach for Junior Achievement at my son’s school this spring.  After I was given the honor of speaking at the annual fundraiser for the Oliver Scholars Program in NY, I decided to donate 10% of the net proceeds from my children’s book to them.   And now, just in time for the holidays, there is just one more thing I have left to do: go to prison.

Yes, that was not a typo, I am going to prison this month for the Storybook Project, which records incarcerated women reading to their children, so that their kids will be able to hear their mothers voices this holiday season.

Hopefully, I have made my point– there are plenty of worthy causes out there, and you don’t have to have money, but at least give of your time.  There are so many out there that have so little.  That is how my life started out, and it is only through the generosity of so many that I became the woman I am today.  Since I can not pay it back, I have to pay it forward.  Please find it in your heart to do the same, at the very least one day a year, on Giving Tuesday.

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.