“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” ~Dr. Seuss

We’ve all seen the gut-wrenching commercials and Facebook links showing orphans clinging to life by a thread as a voiceover pleads for your help. While there are stories of some who are moved to take action, be it a donation or in some cases, adoption, many of us feel frustrated, wondering what we can do and if what we can do will be enough to make a difference.

According to the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, around the world, there are an estimated 153 million orphans who have lost one parent. There are 17,900,000 orphans who have lost both parents and are living in orphanages or on the streets and lack the care and attention required for healthy development. These children are at risk for disease, malnutrition, and death.

So what can the average person do to support the most vulnerable among us?

  1. Talk about it. They say knowledge is power. While it’s tough stuff to digest, by sharing posts, stories, and memes, you are bringing awareness to a global problem.  It may not seem like much, but you never know whose heart you may touch and set into motion.

  2. Make a financial donation. While you may not be in a position to adopt, perhaps you’re able to make a one-time donation and/or break it out into payments that fit your budget. Even a small donation can go a long way by these organizations, orphanages, and agencies who are used to operating on a shoestring budget. (Both Ends Burning is an organization we love.)

  3. Donate supplies or toys. Orphanages go through thousands of supplies each year from diapers, bottles, and blankets, to socks, undergarments, and shoes, to toys and educational materials. Do your research, study various websites, and make a contact. Consider overseeing a donation drive in your area.

  4. Sponsor a child. While a few dollars a month may not seem like much, reaching across the globe may give an at-risk child a chance to eat a well-balanced meal, receive an education or training, and know that he is not alone in the world.

  5. Volunteer. There are programs. Make sure you’re in contact with a reputable organization before investing your time, your money, and your safety. Read this article for tips on how to avoid volunteering scams.

  6. Open your home. Consider adopting a child.While it may seem out of reach, there are many ways to make international adoption affordable. Click here to learn about ways to afford adoption.

  7. “Charity begins at home.” According to the Congressional Coalition Institute on Adoption website, right here in the U.S., 397,122 children are living without permanent families in the foster care system. While not all of these children are considered orphans, 101,666 of these children are eligible for adoption. Nearly 32% of these children will wait over three years in foster care before being adopted. Not in a position to foster/adopt a child? Consider becoming a child advocate, offer your professional services, or make a donation or fundraise (reach out to your employer, church, family, community) for a foster care organization in your area.

Interested in sponsoring a child? There are dozens of websites online to choose from. Do your research and make sure the agency is reputable. Charity Watch offers a list of several agencies, includingChildFund International, Children Incorporated, Compassion International, Pearl S. Buck International, Save the Children, Unbound, and World Vision.

Interested in international adoption? Check out our international adoption pages for valuable information that can help get you started in the international adoption process.

Do you have any other ideas how to help orphans both in the United States or abroad? Fee free to share!