End-of-year charitable givingAs we come to the end of 2011, we all feel like we have much to be thankful for — good friends and family, incredible colleagues (sniff, we love you CMP’ers!) and amazing readers like you who have supported us for another fantastic year.

As in years past, we’ve asked some of our contributors to share with you their favorite charities and the range is pretty amazing.

Perhaps one or more of these will resonate with you, or just remind you to give to your own favorite charity, and squeak in one last generous act (and tax deduction) before 2012.

Liz & Kristen:
We’re so pleased that this year, Cool Mom Picks got more involved with Baby Buggy, an outstanding charity that supports families in need by providing them with essentials for their kids. Support them with a donation, or with a gift of your gently used or new baby gear. Either way, it’s great knowing you’re helping another mom somewhere who really needs it.

Birthday WishesJeana
There are certain months when birthday parties rule our weekend social calendars. But in reality, there are many kids who never get to experience the joy of even a single birthday party. I love the Birthday Wishes charity for bringing a gift of a birthday party to homeless children in shelters across the East Coast. Every child deserves a cake, some presents, and love on his or her birthday and it is Birthday Wishes’ mission of making that happen.

Sailing with Shake-A-LegRoxanna
Shake-A-Leg‘s mission is to give everyone the freedom to sail in Miami’s Biscayne Bay. They teach kids and adults, people with disabilities and those who can’t afford a sailboat. They taught my late father how to sail, and he returned the favor by spending every Saturday volunteering there. By making sailing approachable to everyone, they share the freedom and independence and beauty of sailing.

I remember when my older
relatives used to say “eat your vegetables because there are children
with no food.” That never really made any sense to me. Now I get it; so many children around the world are not even able to get to school because
they have no food to sustain them on the walk. That’s why my favorite charity is FEED projects, a truly worthy organization that helps feed kids who need it most.

Fisher HouseJulie

We hear a lot about the sacrifices of military service members, but their families endure a great deal of hardship too. Fisher House provides gorgeous and comfortable temporary residences to help ensure that families can remain nearby when service members and veterans are hospitalized–all without bearing arduous travel and lodging costs.

Diabetes is rampant in my family. My dad had it before he died. My grandmother, mother and aunt have it on that side of the family. They found mine when I was 32 and pregnant with my son. I support The American Diabetes Association in the hopes that if my child does get it from his genetics, there will be better treatments, or even a cure.

The Girl EffectDelilah
I tell my daughter every day that she is special and loved, but millions of girls around the world never learn to value themselves. The Girl Effect isn’t just about writing a check and moving on. It’s about raising global awareness of how to empower these girls to save themselves. Girl Effect helps keep girls in school longer, find mentors, get ID, get health care, and escape the poverty cycle.

Stephanie S
I have been known to be a bit on the crazy side when it comes to worrying about what my children eat, breathe and wear. When I discovered Healthy Child Healthy World [photo at top] a couple of years ago, I felt a little more normal. And a lot more empowered. Providing accessible information about protecting children from harmful chemicals, this organization makes it so much simpler to live without fear. And to work towards a healthier tomorrow.

Adopt A LabChristina
Two months ago, our family adopted a three-year-old black lab from the Indiana-based organization Adopt A Lab. I still love visiting the website to read the stories about the dogs they have rescued (and telling all my friends about dogs they should consider!) I also commend them for their Adopt a Little Dog program which helps place dogs for breeders who want to get out of the business. Though not a huge international program, Adopt a Lab makes a big difference in many lives, most notably the furry life sleeping on the couch next to me right now.

My kids are at the age where I want them to participate in charity, beyond saving. Because my kids are budding entrepreneurs, Kiva.org is a great fit for us. For as little as $25, Kiva.org lets individuals lend money to create opportunities around the world. One example is a loan to a mother in Columbia to start a baking business that allowed her to pay for her daughter’s education.
But there are so many worthy projects, sometimes it’s hard to pick.

This year when I needed a gift for a friend who has everything, it seemed like one more gifted thing would have no real meaning. So I turned to one of my favorite charities and gave a gift in her name instead. Heifer.org works to end poverty and hunger around the world and donations are more than just dollar amounts–they are something more tangible–a goat, a flock of egg-laying hens, a milk cow. So while my friend opened up her present to find a jar of local honey and some Burt’s Bees lip gloss, what those small tokens really signified was a gift of bees from Heifer International and a whole lot of good for people in need on the other side of the world.

Need more ideas? Take a peek at last year’s favorite charities as well as our 2009 picks for worthy charities.