For the person who has it all, why not make a donation to a special charity in someone's name for Christmas? Here are a few that I love and support.

Here are just a few of the non-profits and good causes near and dear to my heart:

1. Common Ground Grief Center. This is a wonderful, safe place in Manasquan for kids and teens in Monmouth/Ocean who have lost a parent, sibling, or close friend. It's a warm and inviting place for them to gather with other peers in the same situation and express themselves with a trained counselor. They attend free of charge to start the healing process, thanks to generous donations by the community.

2. Jazz Arts Project. This wonderful charity, based in Red Bank, brings quality jazz music to our area and uses the money it raises from concerts and donations to put instruments into the hands of kids who don't have the means to buy an instrument and learn how to play it. This opens up a whole new world for a child who may otherwise have nothing positive in their life, and gives kids a chance to learn something good for their mind and heart. And it gives them something meaningful and constructive to do with their time. There is a Jazz Arts Academy and a summer camp, too!

3. Monmouth County SPCA. Not only do they take in strays and pets that people can no longer keep, but they do anything and everything to make those animals healthy and keep them until they are adopted...sometimes for years. They also make trips to high-kill shelters down south and even in Puerto Rico to bring animals here that would have been euthanized. And they prosecute those who abuse and neglect animals. They also provide low-cost clinics with seasoned veterinarians for your pets' needs, and so much more.

4. The Brodie Fund. This new non-profit helps pet owners whose dog or cat is suffering from cancer in order to support them in getting treatments for their beloved animal. When  pet owners are faced with the grim choices of whether to just medicate their pet who has cancer and wait for them to pass, or to euthanize, because they don't have the money for chemo treatments and the like, the Brodie Fund hopes to step in and help financially with your donations to try and extend their pet's life and help them get the treatment they need.

5. Mosaic Music Therapy. Although this isn't a non-profit, this wonderful place, based in Manasquan, accepts donations to use as scholarship money to help kids suffering from an array of problems from autism to bullying, anxiety, brain damage and other special needs as they learn coping skills  through music. Music therapy is a very powerful tool in healing, whether listening to it to calm your nerves, banging on a drum or keyboard, or perhaps using your voice. It is also a super powerful way to reach some hospital patients that are unconscious or in a coma after a brain injury, or to reach Alzheimer's victims. This place has gotten through to so many children, teens, and adults who otherwise were unreachable through mainstream forms of therapy.


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