When I first entered the work field at the ripe age of 14, my dad tried to teach me how to manage my money. He told me to put some cash away for savings and put some towards charity. I put some money towards comics (this counted as savings because they were going to make me rich!), and I put the rest towards action figures. (Yup, I still collected action figures at the age of 14. Who are you to judge?) Over the next bunch of years, I put my parents through the typical teenager drama followed by being a complete meshugener until I was 25. Needless to say, I have had to do a lot of spiritual repentance over the past few years. Charity was no longer an option; I had to start giving charity to get myself right with the universe.
In Judaism, Jews are supposed to give 10% of their income towards Tzedakah. To translate for my gentiley readers, Tzedakah means charity. Taking charity is not something to be ashamed of. That doesn’t mean we are supposed to claim poverty and take all your stuff. Jews are obligated to avoid being in need of charity if we can, but if we legitimately require help then it is a sin to refuse support. And in reality, we all need help sometimes.
The High Holy Days, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, just passed. During the ten days of repentance (the days including and between the holidays), it is especially important to give extra charity to repent for all the crap you did over the past year. Even though giving any way you do it is great, it is considered a bigger mitzvah to give charity without anyone knowing it! I am telling you I give charity, mainly to make you feel guilty if you don’t. (Plus, if I don’t admit I give, how am I supposed to make a list of my top charities?)
What the heck does this have to do with comics? I figure since we have to give, we should give towards causes we are passionate about.
–This list is not in order of importance (support which ones YOU care for). It is not a complete list; there are many more great charities. If you know other wonderful charities please tell about them in the comments.–
So here we go.
The Top Seven Comics-Related Charities
The Hero Initiative
The Hero Initiative is my favorite charity ever because I get to help out the comic creators that shaped the characters and stories that inspire me. Let’s face it- the comic industry can be brutal to creators. “Work for hire” has left creators with no ownership of their ideas and no retirement policy. The Hero Initiative helps the creators if they fall on hard times. The charity will help with medical bills, financial aid, training and finding work. There are many ways to help out: volunteering at a convention booth (see you at NY Comic Con baby!), buying from their eBay store, becoming a member (I am a member and proudly carry my membership card everywhere), or giving them straight cash. Check them out by clicking here. Check them out by clicking here (I wrote that twice, because I really want you to help them out).
The Comic Book Project
The Comic Book Project is a great charity that helps implement school and after-school programs, giving kids the opportunity to make their own comics. The comics are about important themes such as bullying, conservation, healthy ways to deal with trauma, and drug and alcohol abuse (curriculums are designed specifically for the issues the community is dealing with). After the kids create their comics, their work is published (the org is partnered with Dark Horse Comics). The Comic Book Project has been growing rapidly- they have established programs in cities throughout the US as well as Canada, Mexico, and Nicaragua. If you are interested in helping out, email [email protected] or call (212) 330-7444. Check out their website here.
Superheroes for Hospice
Superheroes for Hospice accepts comic, action figure, graphic novel and other comic-related donations which they then sell at special events. The money from these sales goes toward hospice patients and their families at Barnabas Health Hospice and Palliative Care Centers. Check out their website here.
An excellent way to give Tzedakah is to purchase the 32 page comics Hero Up! by the late Zachi Telesha. All precedes from his comic go to the Lehigh Valley-based nonprofit, Angel 34, a charity supporting children with pediatric cancer. Comic creator Zachi Telesha passed away Monday, April 29th, at the age of 12. When he was 7 years old, Zachi was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer that spreads to other body parts. Cancer could not stop the brave 5th grader from reaching his dream of publishing his own comic book. Hero Up! features a courageous squad of five heroes led by Venom Transporter, a character based on Zachi himself. Buying Zachi’s comic is such a great way to help other kiddos suffering from cancer and to help Zachi’s dream live on. His comic can be purchased at the charity’s website.
Operation Comix Relief
This great charity sends comics to soldiers overseas. At first, the charity gave only to ill and wounded soldiers, but now they send comics to any military members serving on the front lines. You can help them out by either donating money or donating comics. Check them out here.
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
The CBLDF (that is their fancy lettery name) “provide[s] legal aid, education, and advocacy to protect the First Amendment rights of the readers, creators, retailers, publishers, and librarians of comics, manga, and graphic novels.” You can help them out by volunteering at conventions, becoming a member of their org, or donating some of your cash-money. Check out their web site here.
Give to your own local charities
To be a hero, you don’t only have to give to comic-related charities. Odds are you also care about other causes and are involved in other communities. Help out a food pantry. Find an org that helps sick kids in your community (or in my community if you feel like it- donate to MylesofSmyles). Donate to help research for diabetes. To make it easy for you to give, I gave links to charities for each of those causes (just click the colored words). Don’t forget to give to those in need that are closest to you first (family first). If you don’t know who to give to, ask yourself, what would Superman do?
In Loving Memory of David Mark