It’s comforting to know that there are so many great charitable organizations in Orange County that help children. Nonprofit organizations in the area help families and children from all backgrounds deal with trauma, physical and mental health challenges, as they transition into adulthood.
Read our list of ten charities that help children in Orange County. If interested in supporting them with your donation of time or money, visit their website to learn how.
1. Acoustic For a Change
Acoustic for a Change (AFAC) was founded by guitarist Arturo Echarte in 2007. The mission of the charity is to collect musical instruments, refurbish them, then give them to underprivileged children either directly or through third-party organizations. The musicians involved with the group perform live shows to raise money to buy instruments. AFAC also performs for private events at a reduced rate. What they ask in return is the opportunity to make an announcement about the instrument donation program and set up an info table at the event.
2. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County & The Inland Empire
Big Brothers Big Sisters pairs adults with children and teams to create a supportive one-to-one relationship. The organization believes that mentoring helps young people reach their full potential. In addition to traditional mentoring, other programs include Big Couples where a couple in a relationship spends time with a child twice every month. High School Bigs pairs high school students with elementary school kids and Workplace Mentoring matches teens with corporate employees who meet once a month for a 90-minute session. These programs instill a sense of purpose in young people and help them realize their full potential.
3. California Heart Connection
The California Heart Connection offers free services to families with a child who has a heart defect. The charity was founded by two parents who both had children with congenital heart defects. They connected online but soon learned they lived close to each other in southern California. They teamed up to raise money and support for other families in their situation which they call “heart families”. The group provides an online support group, as well as resources and information, and perhaps most important to the children, a giant teddy bear before they undergo heart surgery.
4. Fish for Life
Fish for Life seeks to provide special needs children with an experience they’ll never forget by taking them on fishing trips. The organization was founded by an avid saltwater fisherman who wanted to take his friend with cerebral palsy fishing. As a part of the tour, children get a red carpet welcome as they board the boat for a half-day ocean fishing trip. The kids separate into teams where they learn basic fishing skills from adult volunteers. Kids are given a trophy before the boat docks. They must also clean the fish they caught once they are back onshore.
5. HBIC – Help for Brain Injured Children
HBIC has been helping children with brain injuries since 1976. The organization provides rehabilitation and education to help these children because they believe every child has a right to learn. Toward this goal, HBIC offers academic programs at the Cleta Harder Developmental School (CHDS) that include a high school class where they learn to socialize with peers. They also offer vocational training and are taught courses in the English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies/History, Health, Physical Education, Computers, and Art. Their Transition Class prepares young people to be independent with classes teaching Independent Living Skills, Career Exploration, Community Education, and Community Fitness.
Lighthouse provides support to special needs teens and young adults. The goal of this charity is to help create lifelong friendships and is designed to meet the needs of young people who have aged out of formal school systems. The Lighthouse Group gathers together every week to enjoy social time. Other activities include Club Nights, Dances, Talent Shows, and a four-day camp in the mountains of southern California. The organization also hosts community outings to play bingo, go bowling or to the movies and local restaurants, as well as attend Angels Games and bonfires at the beach.
7. Clear Charity
There are many great local charities that provide child care assistance to low-income households, but Clear Charity has a very targeted approach. The charity addresses the “diaper gap” by providing parents with diapers for their babies. According to Clear Charity, the diaper gap is caused by financial status and the discounts big box stores apply to diapers. This marketing tactic makes diapers less expensive but only if you can afford to purchase a large box, which many families cannot. Clear Charity is also a member of the NoMore Alliance which raises awareness of domestic violence and provides shelter for victims of domestic violence.
8. Musical Mentors
Since 2007, Musical Mentors has helped underprivileged children realize their potential to be great and they use music education to do it. The organization provides free activities to children regardless of their economic status. This includes guitar and ukulele lessons designed for kids ages eight to 18. Volunteers teach the kids over the course of eight weeks and once they’ve completed the program they are encouraged to become mentors for new classes. Musical Mentors has a home base in San Juan Capistrano where they provide their lessons at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Capistrano Valley. Their second California location is in Santa Ana which teaches lessons at the Orange County First Assembly of God.
9. South Coast Children’s Society, Inc.
South Coast Community Services provides professional mental health care and counseling for children and teens. The mental health services provided by SCCS include anxiety and depression treatment and eating disorder therapy. They also address childhood trauma, PTSD, bipolar disorders, ADHD, behavioral and conduct issues, and suicide prevention. SCCS provides crisis intervention and shelter for abused and neglected children throughout Orange and San Bernardino Counties.
10. ABC Hopes
ABC Hopes has a mission to help kids with down syndrome be productive members of their communities. Toward this goal, the organization provides job training as well as education to teach these young people important social skills and to help them feel comfortable in a work environment. This gives the child a sense of purpose as they realize the value of their contributions. The group helps as many as 250 kids every year in Orange County and Inland Empire.