Steve Gleason has become the face of ALS in America, and that face is smiling. Earlier this month, when a friend drenched him in ice water as part of the Ice Bucket Challenge, the few muscles the disease has not taken busted out into a huge grin. Gleason has shown grace and grit under the toughest circumstances — that Spokane spirit in him is inspiring people coast to coast. He was a slam dunk for the key to the city, which Mayor David Condon presented to him over the weekend at Gleason Fest.

America is paying attention to ALS like never before. Kids in backyards all over Spokane have been taking the Challenge, along with entire companies of otherwise sane people. As a result, the Challenge has everyone talking about giving, and that leads perfectly to Give Guide — our 14th annual issue devoted to local philanthropy and nonprofit work. You'll be uplifted by this year's stories, but you'll see something else on every single page: Need.

While the Ice Bucket Challenge puts ALS right in front of America where it deserves to be, and as the Pink Ribbon campaign will remind us of the ravages of breast cancer come October, a lot of other important organizations deserve your attention, too. We've collected a bunch of them right here.

One example is World Relief, a local organization that serves new immigrants — many of them refugees we have invited to America. With all the politics surrounding immigration, their funding was allowed to lapse, plunging hundreds into uncertainty in a strange new land. Fortunately, the feds were able to rearrange some priorities to keep the funding flowing for now. It's not, however, a permanent solution.

That is the world so many charities toil in: They do crucial work but are always stuck right on the edge of solvency, dependent on the support of all of us to keep their mission alive. Along with information about more than 80 local charities and nonprofits, you can read all about World Relief in this issue. With World Relief running low on funds, Action Recycling, a generous Spokane business, stepped in and sponsored their ad so they could share their story. That's teamwork.

The Ice Bucket Challenge has also reminded us that working together can be both fun and powerful. So far, more than $80 million has been raised for ALS support and research. In the Give Guide, you'll find many, many causes to care about, along with opportunities to give. If it feels better, go ahead and dump some ice water on your head. These organizations will take your help however it comes. ♦

Virtual Idaho Womxn's March

Sat., Jan. 23, 3:30 p.m.
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About The Author

Ted S. McGregor Jr.

Ted S. McGregor, Jr. grew up in Spokane and attended Gonzaga Prep high school and the University of the Washington. While studying for his Master's in journalism at the University of Missouri, he completed a professional project on starting a weekly newspaper in Spokane. In 1993, he turned that project into reality...