Spending part of your paycheck on a gourmet dinner or an online shopping spree feels very satisfying and you should definitely treat yourself from time to time, but giving back to the community, getting involved in a noble cause, can be just as rewarding. If you have a certain cause that’s close to your heart – be it helping children in need, veterans or other underprivileged members of the community – there’s probably a non-profit organization for it in Jacksonville, Florida. Whether you want to donate to one of these causes or take part in another way, by volunteering or just spreading the word, these are the top 10 non-profit organizations that make a difference.

Hubbard House

Hubbard House is one of the longest-standing not-for-profit organizations in Jacksonville, and the first domestic violence shelter in Florida, founded in 1976. They have a 24/7 domestic violence hotline where victims can call to seek shelter for them and their children, as well as adult & youth outreach services, school-based education, therapeutic childcare, batterers’ intervention programs, court advocacy and volunteer/community education opportunities. Hubbard House helps more than 5,000 people every year and the money they receive from online donations are used to help victims of domestic abuse and their children.

Teach for America Jacksonville

Teach For America – Jacksonville (TFA – Jax) started a partnership with the city in 2008 and they already have 195 alumni. The mission of TFA is to help underprivileged children in the Jacksonville area have free access to quality education. Donations are welcome at Teach for America, but this non-profit organization is also an excellent place to apply for a job. They are always searching for open-minded, community-driven people with or without teaching experience who want to get involved and fight education inequity.

St. Johns Riverkeeper Foundation

St. Johns Riverkeeper Foundation is a not-for-profit environmental organization that advocates for the protection and restoration of the St. Johns River. Part of their activities includes patrolling the river to investigate pollution problems, making sure that environmental regulations are respected, advocating for policy changes to protect the St. Johns River and raising awareness on the importance of this river for the local environment.

Lutheran Social Services

Founded more than 35 years ago, Lutheran Social Services strives to fight local hunger through hunger-relief initiatives. For example, their Backpack program offers healthy food to schoolchildren at the weekend. Health Begins Before Birth aims to reduce infant mortality rate by providing healthy food and nutritional education to high risk pregnant women. Serving Our Seniors delivers food pantry distributions directly to the doors of low-income senior citizens. Lutheran Social Services accepts donations, but you can also volunteer to participate as a driver, translator or youth tutor.

Clara White Mission

Clara White Mission has one of the most fascinating stories of all non-profit organizations in Jacksonville. Although the organization was officially launched in 1904, its founder, Clara English White, would feed hungry people in her neighborhood in the 1880s. More than a century later, the Clara White Mission is still committed to preventing hunger and homelessness by initiating local programs. Helping everyone from homeless and veterans to students and children, Clara White Mission is a non-profit organization that deserves every donation.

StandUp For Kids

StandUp for Kids is a national non-profit organization that has offices across America, Jacksonville included. Their mission is to empower and support young people who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless through financial assistance and personal growth programs. StandUp for Kids has over 7,000 outreach centers throughout the U.S. and connects the youth with the resources they need to end the cycle of homelessness.

Dreams Come True

Children who are battling a life-threatening illness have a friend in Dreams Come True, a local non-profit organization that has helped more than 3,800 children since its launch in 1984. The volunteers in this organization listen to the wishes of children with life-threatening illness and make them come true – whether they wished for a puppy, a camping trip or a Lego set. According to the Dreams Come True website, the organization has never turned down any wish and, unless mentioned otherwise, 100% of all donations go directly toward dream fulfillment.

UF Health Jacksonville

The history of University of Florida Health starts in the 1870 – back then, it was called Duval Hospital and Asylum and it was Jacksonville’s first hospital and Florida’s first non-military hospital. In 1967, it became a not-for-profit organization and since then it has been helping the community with modern healthcare facilities, including an emergency room, advanced imaging, rehab services and 20 other specialties. UF Health Jacksonville regularly engages in community health services for people with little to insurance, volunteering, support groups and classes.

Sidewalk Funday School

Sidewalk Funday School is a Children’s Church, nonprofit organization and an official North American Mission Board (NAMB) outreach ministry located in Jacksonville, Florida. Their mission is to help children in need and educate them in the spirit of traditional values to avoid violence, poverty and crime.

Alliance for the Lost Boys of Sudan Florida

Alliance for the Lost Boys of Sudan is a non-profit, all-volunteer foundation established in 2004, to meet the health and educational needs of Lost Boys and their siblings living in Africa and the United States. The Lost Boys of Sudan refers to a group of over 40,000 boys of the Nuer and Dinka ethnic groups who displaced or orphaned during the Second Sudanese Civil War. The Alliance conducts humanitarian efforts to modernize and enhance living conditions in Southern Sudan and also assists Lost Boys with college tuition, medical assistance and other services they need to live a good life in the United States.

Guest article by Cynthia Madison