An appeal to help light the darkness.

In the last few days, I've gotten a bunch of emails reminding me that the window for tax-deductible charitable giving for the year is closing. So, as 2009 winds down, I want to make an appeal to those readers lucky enough to have a bit of money for discretionary spending. Last year I wrote:

[T]o the extent that we can, we can shake our tiny checkbooks and try to bring a bit more light to the darkness.
Especially since doing it before the last minute of 2008 (at least in the U.S.) may give you a tax-deduction on your 2008 taxes.
(Minor sidebar here: As the tax code stands in the U.S., rich people who make charitable donations effectively get more of a tax-deduction than do lower income people. I don't know if this is supposed to encourage those with piles of money to be more charitable than they would otherwise; if it is, I don't know if it works. In any case, given the current tax rules, this means that the people on the financial edge who find a few bucks to give to a charitable cause are the real heros. Also, that it may be worth reexamining the tax code.)
In the event that you have even a little money to spare and you want to see 2008 out doing something to help others, here are a few organizations near to my heart.

The same three organizations I recommended in 2008 are still on my list, but I'm adding some more this year.

DonorsChoose, which helps classroom teachers get the funds they need to give students the educational experiences they deserve.

Americans for Medical Progress, an organization that tries to build public understanding of and support for the humane, necessary and valuable use of animals in medicine.

Medical Students for Choice, a group working to ensure that medical schools and residency programs include abortion as a part of the reproductive health services curriculum.

Scarleteen, an organization that provides comprehensive, accurate, and inclusive sexuality information for a young adult population.

Solar Electric Light Fund, a group that designs and implements sustainable energy solutions to improve the health, education and economic well-being of rural communities in the developing world.

Sustainable Harvest International, which provides farming families in Central America with the training and tools to implement sustainable land-use practices that let them farm successfully without slash-and-burn practices, helping to restore their tropical environment.

Trees for the Future, a group that distributes seeds, provides agroforestry training, and supports local communities in efforts to restore tree cover in Central America, Africa, and Asia.

Room to Read, which promotes global education by establishing networks of libraries in Asia and Africa filled with English and local-language children's books.

Global Greengrants Fund, which provides small grants to grassroots environmental groups around the world.

HealthRight International, a group that mobilizes health care professional volunteers to work where health is diminished or endangered by violations of human rights and civil liberties.

Doctors Without Borders, an international medical humanitarian organization working internationally to help people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe.

Of course, if you want to drop a link to another charitable organization doing work you think would be of interest to ScienceBlogs readers, please do so in the comments.

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Thanks for your list! I've been collecting a list of good non-profits to create a rotating spot on my sidebar.

I heard on NPR this morning that US charity giving, usually running at an amazing nine billion dollars, was down to under 3 billion in 2009.