Here are some of the charities and causes I believe are so worthwhile supporting, not just at Christmas but all year around:
The Christmas giving tree. There's one at my workplace where staff can drop off toys, food and toiletries for families in need. If there's not one at your workplace, church or community group, there is the Kmart Wishing Tree where you can do the same.
The Daniel Morcombe Foundation - today is Daniel Morcombe's funeral, nine years to the day after he went missing from a bus stop on the Sunshine Coast. Daniel was abducted and murdered. His parents have set up the foundation to educate children about child safety, to assist victims of crime - particularly crime involving children. His parents are incredibly strong, and so hardworking to ensure Daniel will not be forgotten and that child safety is taught. Wear red today to remember Daniel.
The Layne Beachley Aim for the Stars Foundation - I was a 2012 grant recipient along with 25 inspirational, talented, driven, courageous and lovely women. A donation will go towards funding and mentoring a young woman's career.
Building Better Lives aims to move young people with severe disabilities out of aged care nursing homes and into supported accommodation that is more appropriate for their age.
St Kilda Mums is a charity based in Melbourne aimed at Mums and children in need. You can drop off good quality baby furniture (prams, cots, change tables etc), new toys, bottles and clothes, or donate money.
The Cancer Council Relay for Life - I am participating in the Relay for Life as an employee in my day job. The Relay for Life raises money to find research and treatment for cancer - a disease that has more than likely touched us all. One of my most favourite people in the world has survived cancer and I admire her strength and positivity so much. She's the one I am doing the relay for.
The Royal Children's Hospital has treated me and so many other young children. As the appeal saying goes, "Give so that they may grow".
The Make a Wish Foundation grants very sick children their wish. The foundation is currently experiencing financial difficulties which means they don't have enough money to meet demand.
World Vision - you only need to read Eden's blog to see how World Vision is helping people living in third world countries, and also in Indigenous communities in Australia.
The Lort Smith Animal Hospital provides high quality veterinary care at a reduced cost for the pets of people in need as well as shelter services for injured, surrendered and abandoned pets. You can make a donation by purchasing a gorgeous gift card.
Lifeline is a phone line for people in crisis. It provides access to crisis support, suicide prevention and mental health support services. Donations help fund the service. You can also volunteer at Lifeline. Christmas can be a lonely time for many, and Lifeline will no doubt receive calls from people who need to talk.
Positive Exposure, founded by my friend Rick Guidotti, is an initiative to change the way society views people with a wide range of genetic differences and medical conditions through photography. Rick does this through photographing people with genetic differences, just like he would photograph supermodels.
Changing Faces is London based organisation that helps people with facial differences and disfigurement become more confident, and educates society about appearance diversity.
Every Mother Counts is a charity I heard of firsthand from the founder, Christy Turlington Burns (yes the supermodel), at BlogHer in New York. Every Mother Counts helps educate women in third world countries about reproductive health.
Donate Life or donate blood - register to be an organ donor or make an appointment at your nearest Red Cross blood bank to give blood. You may save a life.
There is also the Australian Charities site which lists thousands of charities to support.
Remember, only donate what you can afford. You don't have to donate money, you may be able to find a charity or cause that accepts good quality used goods, or non perishable food and toiletries. Or you may be able to donate your time by helping out at a soup kitchen or wrapping and delivering presents to the needy.
I know there are so many more charities and causes out there that need support. If you have other charities and causes you want to spread the word about, please leave the information in the comments section.