By Michelle Graff

A recent survey from the NRF
indicated that, as of the second week of December, 41 million people had not yet started their holiday shopping, and 47.1 percent didn’t have it all done.

If you are among those still
searching for suitable holiday gifts, than this blog is for you.

Remember that during tough economic times, nonprofit organizations and charities tend to struggle along with
everyone else, perhaps even more, and, in turn, so do the people in need they
work to support.

Donating to one will not only
potentially help out somebody in great need, but it will make you feel good as

Below are a few charities I feel are worth supporting.

Happy holidays to

The Diamond Empowerment
Fund (DEF).
I think this charity,
co-founded by music mogul Russell Simmons, is a great cause. Founded in 2007, the DEF is a nonprofit international organization established by individuals in the
diamond and jewelry industry, including Simmons.

The DEF’s mission is to raise
money for education for economically disadvantaged nations in Africa where
diamonds are a natural resource.

The DEF’s first beneficiary is
CIDA City Campus, an institution of higher learning in Johannesburg, South
Africa, that offers scholarships for economically disadvantaged students. I can personally attest to
the validity of CIDA, which I visited during a trip to Africa this past May.

The DEF already has donated
nearly $10 million to the school and is looking to do more.

Both individuals and
businesses can donate to the DEF.

To learn more, visit

— Star of Africa. Last month, the Royal Asscher Diamond Co. held an
event to launch “Star of Africa,” its new charity program focused on helping
the people of Sierra Leone.

Civil war once raged in this
nation, noted for being the center of the trade in blood diamonds (it was, in
fact, the setting for the 2006 film
Blood Diamond).

Today, civil war has left the
country rife with poverty, but Royal Asscher, a diamond company with a history
dating back to 1854, wants to help change that.

The goal of Star of Africa is
to raise money to work with various charities to help the people of Sierra
Leone rebuild the cornerstones of their society: health care, education,
economic stability and societal relationships.

The first stage of the program
is a partnership with nonprofit World Vision that aims to get the children of
Sierra Leone out of the country’s diamond mines and into school.

RoyalAsscherWorldVision To donate to the Star of
Africa’s effort with World Vision, download the form at left 
and fax it to (646) 861-4975.

For more information about
Star of Africa, contact Rebecca Smith with Royal Asscher, (212) 922-1908 or
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

LoveHealsEvent Love Heals. I wasn’t familiar at all with this cause when I
attended a benefit for Love Heals on Dec. 10 at Kwiat’s beautiful flagship
store in Manhattan.

But I think lack of education
is at the core of so many societal ills that you can never go wrong when you
empower people with knowledge.

The event, sponsored by Kwiat
magazine, featured
actress Julianna Margulies (nurse Carol Hathaway for you
ER fans, pictured above, fourth from left, in the black dress), who was
decked out in Kwiat diamond earrings and bracelet.


The mission of Love Heals
(officially called “Love Heals, the Alison Gertz Foundation for AIDS
Education”) is to educate young people about HIV/AIDS so they can make informed
choices as they mature.

1992, New York-based Love Heals’ HIV-positive speakers and trained health
educators have reached more than 300,000 young people, parents, educators and
community leaders.

For more information, visit

Treatment Action Group
The Diamond Information
Center’s Sally Morrison recently was honored by this organization for her years
of work in the fight against AIDS (congratulations again Sally!).

The group
fights for better treatments, a vaccine and a cure for AIDS.

For more information, visit

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