BEST 2013: Best Groups That Give Back

Nonprofit organizations enrich any community in countless ways, and Boston is no exception. This city is home to so many local groups that reach out to help people (and animals!) in need, and we're proud to acknowledge those that you, the readers, have nominated as the outstanding examples. So while you're out sampling our noms for best burrito or bar-hopping among the nominated dives and fancy cocktail joints, consider making some time for doing good too. (And don't forget to volunteer your vote in this -- and all of -- our Best 2013 categories!)


The AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts fights against HIV/AIDS on every level. They carry out their mission by advocating at the state and federal levels to spread awareness and improve education, all while working directly with the one in six people in Massachusetts that have been diagnosed with the disease. They also own and operate four Boomerangs thrift stores, which allow customers to bargain hunt in support of the fight against AIDS.  []


You need only visit the ARL's website to have your heart strings tugged - hard. The nonprofit handles rescue calls all around the state, operates a top-notch shelter and adoption program, and even hosts a veterinary office on the premises. The ARL helps animals that are already in danger while aiming to educate pet owners on proper and responsible animal care. And of course, without them, the South End would have to do without a Christmas tree covered in little pictures of pets each holiday season. []


Bikes Not Bombs has found a way to use the bicycle as a "vehicle for social change." By reclaiming thousands of bicycles each year, the organization provides opportunities for people to develop practical skills they can use to find jobs. Their programs also encourage more sustainable methods of transportation. And if all that wasn't enough, Bikes Not Bombs raises funds through an affordable bike repair shop in Jamaica Plain. []


The aim of this tech-savvy nonprofit (who sees Boston as "less than the sum of its parts," according to the manifesto on their website) is a bright future. In short, their mission is to foster the growth of a creative economy in Boston. Future Boston's website provides a hub where like-minded young professionals can come together to discuss their ideas for positive change, and push back against the red tape that can strangle new and innovative businesses. Check out their weekly -- free- series Assemble! every Wednesday night at the Emerald Lounge in the Revere Hotel. []


The Home for Little Wanderers takes a truly multi-faceted approach to taking care of young people in need. The nonprofit provides behavioral health services, adoption and foster care services and numerous other specialized forms of support to children from birth to age 21. Their advocacy department pushes to get child welfare issues into the mainstream political discourse and they run a special program for at-risk LGBT and questioning young people. As their website states, The Home for Little Wanderers never gives up on children, and they don't let children give up on themselves. []


Lovin' Spoonfuls strives to feed the hungry by recovering food that would otherwise be wasted. The organization's volunteers pick up perishable foods from businesses such as grocery stores, farmers markets, produce wholesalers and others, and turn the goods around to service the hungry and underprivileged in the greater Boston area. Since it was founded in 2010, Lovin' Spoonfuls has served over 450,000 pounds of food to those who need it most.  []

Get helping, and then get voting! And don't forget that if you don't see your fave local non-profit repped here, you can write it in!


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