Easy and Reputable Ways to Donate to the Japan Relief Effort

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The devastation in Japan has been tremendous. It's hard not to be transfixed by the awful images and details. There are tales of hope (the one about the four-month-old rescued from rubble totally choked me up), but the main stories dominating the news (and our minds) are heartrending.

Just like the tragedy in Haiti last year, families want to help. Making a monetary donation is the easiest way to do that, but choosing a charity can be daunting. In fact, Slate and the New York Times ran articles encouraging people to give but to do it wisely. (The takeaway: Give but do so without restrictions; let the organizations figure out how to use the money.)

Instead of just posting links to the usual nonprofits (we figure you already know about the Red Cross, Americares and Doctors Without Borders), we've found some great articles with info about reputable organizations and donating tips. In some cases you can help just by liking a page on Facebook or sending a text!

InterAction, an alliance of US-based, nongovernmental organizations, has compiled a list of members who are accepting donations to help Japan. This roundup is extremely comprehensive, and includes big-name charities like Habitat for Humanity as well as specialized groups like Handicap International. Every listing has a link to click to donate.

As a parent, you may be eager to help the children. You can do that by donating to organizations that focus on the youngest victims, like UNICEF or Save The Children.

Mashable posted a piece on seven easy ways to donate to the cause. All of the options are easy (you can even give via iTunes) and often require just the click of your mouse. In a few cases you don't even need to give money; just liking a specific Facebook page results in a $1 donation by Explore.org.

If you're a texter, Smart Brief has a cheat sheet of codes and numbers for you to donate to major charities.

Got a kid who's an avid gamer? Various gaming sites and game manufacturers are offering deals, then donating a portion of the proceeds to charity.

This week's Poppins Perk for is for cool kids' clothes, and 10% will go to Doctors without Borders. So stock up on your brood's summer wardrobe at 50% off and you'll be giving, too.

In the coming weeks, we're sure we'll hear about a bunch of benefit events, some of which should be kid-friendly. Already, the Japan Society has canceled its annual all-ages J-Cation fest in favor of an all-day benefit concert featuring heavy-weights like John Zorn, Philip Glass, Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson. So check back for info on additional ways you can give while getting something in return.

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