This post is in memory of my friend Eric Aarseth, a firefighter, who passed away in September, 2018.
Thanksgiving is coming up shortly, and this season always encourages me to reflect on everything I’m grateful for. After you say goodnight to a day well-spent, and you’re left to think about how you too are grateful, you may wonder how you can give back to those who didn’t spend this holiday with their loved ones.
First responders will forever be my heroes as they face tragedy and triumph every day, and proceed to wake up and do it again. Firefighters, police officers, paramedics, rescuers and countless other individuals risk so much in their line of work and they truly never get a real day off. This is why I’ve created a list of five nonprofits you can donate to that directly impacts first responders.
National Fallen Firefighters Foundation
The name speaks for themselves as they are a nonprofit that helps the families of the fallen financially, while also remembering the hero themselves. They hold several events throughout the year, with the most recent one being a tree lighting for fallen firefighters over the last year.
The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation was created as a support system for the families of the fallen and is there to let them know they aren’t alone through their tragedies. The Foundation helps connect family members with counselors who specialize in grievance, along with several interactive programs to encourage families to bond among themselves, or with other families suffering similar tragedies. If you would like to hear more about their mission, I’ve attached a video below.
Code Green Campaign
Code Green’s mission is to raise awareness of the mental state of first responders, specifically EMT’s and paramedics. They often suffer from PTSD, depression and anxiety following many years of rescue in their career, but they feel as if they can’t talk about it. Code Green is trying to eliminate the current suicide rates from those within this profession and end the stigma of asking for help.
Since being established in 2014, this incredible organization has received over 700 stories of how first responders struggle to show that they are never alone in their fight and they have given out over 150,000 mental health resources cards. You can donate to Code Green here and support their mission of de-stigmatizing the mental health of first responders.
PALS stands for Police Activity League Supporters, and they are a nonprofit that partners with members of the LAPD. Devonshire PALS is a community effort to provide at-risk youth with a safe environment and encourage character development. They also work towards creating a positive relationship between youth and police officers so they are more aware and likely to see law enforcement as helpful and not something to fear.
I found this organization to be especially relevant given today’s political climate and it’s important that at-risk youth foster relationships with authorities at a young age to diminish mistrust. You can help youth and local police officers develop a relationship by supporting their mission here.
Gary Sinise Foundation
The Gary Sinise Foundation is for first responders in a general sense. All donations go towards supporting police officers, first responders, medics, military, paramedics and any other hero in the community. The Gary Sinise Foundation has several programs that help disabled heroes with housing modifications or relocations, those affected by 9/11, children of the fallen, community outreach, and more.
The foundation works to provide selfless individuals with resources following their career and it works to reflect the gratitude so many of us feel for our first responders. You can read more about their incredible range of programs here.
This goes as a reminder to give thanks not only this holiday season, but every day. Some have paid the ultimate sacrifice, have had to leave their family at home for weeks, or continuously struggle with their mental health, and more, just to make us safe. Consider donating or share these organizations because together, we can give so much more support and appreciation to our community’s heroes.