In this season of giving, Beliefnet offers a brief guide to some charities doing work in areas that were especially important during the past year: hurricane relief, relief work in wartorn countries like Iraq and Sudan, care packages for members of the U.S. military, and more. An asterisk (*) next to a charity denotes a Beliefnet staff favorite.

It's always important to research a charity before you donate money. Use a site like Charity Navigator to find out more about specific charities, and keep in mind these questions to ask before donating.

Crisis in Darfur, Sudan
Extreme violence and ethnic strife escalated in Sudan this year and has caused a major humanitarian crisis, displacing more than a million Sudanese. Dozens of religious humanitarian groups have responded to the crisis in Darfur with aid and public awareness campaigns. Beliefnet also offers a complete guide to how you can help the crisis in Sudan here.
Save Darfur Coalition
Alliance of more than 100 faith-based, humanitarian, and human rights organizations formed to respond to the crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan.
Catholic Relief Services*
Provides shelter, hygiene, and other relief materials
  Doctors Without Borders*
Donate to their special Sudan appeal
American Jewish World Service*
Collecting funds to construct sanitation facilities, provide basic health care, and more

Military Care Packages
As U.S. soldiers continue to be away from home for longer than they anticipated, dozens of groups are facilitating the sending of care packages overseas. It's an easy way to brighten a soldier's Christmas or New Year's. A sampling of these groups:
Operation Military Pride
Adopt A Platoon*
  Treats for Troops
Marine Parents
  Books for Soldiers
Thank You Notes to Troops*

Hurricane Relief
Late this summer, hurricanes devastated areas of Florida and large parts of the Caribbean. Many communities are still trying to recover. These groups are helping:
Lutheran World Relief
Aid to people in Haiti suffering after the hurricane season.
Florida Hurricane Relief Fund
World Vision Emergency Aid Kits
  America's Second Harvest
Provides groceries and food support to hurricane survivors.
CARE Humanitarian organization provides hurricane relief in Central and South America

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 840 million people worldwide suffer from hunger. In the U.S. alone, 35 million people are threatened by hunger every year, 13 million of them are children. A few ways to help:
World Manna*
Pledge to end world hunger
Heifer.org* Buy an animal to help a poor family become self-sufficient
Mercy Corps
Mercy Kits provide tools for farming to families
Share Our Strength
"It takes more than food to fight hunger"
  Bread for the World
A Christian anti-hunger organization
A Jewish response to hunger
The Hunger Project
Empowers women to take action against hunger.
Trees for Life
Plants fruit trees in developing nations

Iraq Relief Work
Dozens of major charities are helping Iraqis rebuild while war continues to devastate the country, providing food, supplies, health care and more. Many efforts have been hampered by security issues. A sampling of the organizations still on the ground in Iraq:
Episcopal Relief & Development*
With partner agencies on the ground, distributes emergency food and cooking supplies
American Friends Service Committee
  Water Partners
Helps provide safe drinking water worldwide, including in Iraq
Save the Children
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