Community is what makes Houston great.

Without a sense of community, a city is just a collection of concrete and steel. An amalgamation of bricks and blocks. It’s static, lifeless and dull. The Bayou City is made by the people, organizations and groups that care enough to change the landscape for the better.

And damn, are we LUCKY to work with these movers, shakers and world changers. From AFA, which brings the greatness of music to young people, to Neighborhood Centers, which serves our community in so many ways that it would take a week of blog posts to sum it up, to Project GRADTUTS and the City of Houston itself, our clients and friends are a who’s-who of Houston’s nonprofit community.

As we approach Thanksgiving (dudes, it’s TOMORROW. Your turkey or Tofurky better be thawed—or you better have a reservation for the LuAnn platter at Luby’s), we wanted to reflect back on the organizations that have touched our lives and changed our city for the better. This Giving Tuesday, please consider donating to one of these worthy causes.

Urban Harvest
Urban Harvest celebrates healthy living through teaching others how to grow their own organic fruits and vegetables. A pioneer in the local, organic food movement, they’ve been serving Houston since 1994.

Why We Love Them:

  • They put on one heck of a farmer’s market.
  • Their community gardens bring neighbors together.
  • They have classes on everything from growing a garden to canning your harvests.

Avenue CDC
Through the development of affordable housing and by increasing economic opportunities, Avenue CDC helps preserve Houston’s cultural, economic and historic diversity.

Why We Love Them:

  • They set people on the path to homeownership.
  • Their commitment to green building means that are energy efficient and better for the environment.
  • They keep historic neighborhoods historic and make it possible for people to afford homes in them. See also: Spring Street Studios (our home!) and Winter Street Studios.

Barrio Dogs
Barrio Dogs is leading the pack (yep. We said it.) to help the 1.2 million stray and abandoned dogs in Houston. Through education on pet care and abuse prevention, they empower their neighbors to be better pet owners.

Why We Love Them:

  • They help animals and raise funds for their care.
  • They educate the community, starting with children, on how to be responsible pet owners.
  • They work closely with rescue groups to find a solution to the homeless animal problem in our city.

AIGA Houston
As THE professional association for designers, AIGA gives designers a place to come together as a community to advance their professional craft and helps to position the profession as a cultural force.

Why We Love Them:

  • They’re ACTIVE in the community, recruiting designers from all levels and organizations from big to small.
  • They support local designers, even producing Design Craft (a handmade market) each holiday season.
  • Their event, Cocktails With Creatives, gives you a reason to network—and drink cocktails. We likey.

Row 4 Rice
Buffalo Bayou needs some love and the folks from Row 4 Rice want to do just that. Their mission is to bring a community boathouse to the bayou and start a rowing club to make rowing accessible to middle- and high-school students in the inner city. To raise money, they’re setting sail across the ATLANTIC in 2015. The ocean, people. Wow.

Why We Love Them:

  • They believe that rowing, a sport that relies on teamwork and endurance, changes lives for the better—and they want to bring that to folks throughout Houston.
  • They’re rowing the Atlantic Ocean to raise money for their cause. Seriously, y’all!
  • They want one of Houston’s most famous natural resources to be restored and are working hard to make it happen.

Writers In The Schools
Writers in the Schools or WITS for short, engages children in the love of reading and writing, starting in their very own classroom.

Why We Love Them:

  • They believe that every child deserves an education that includes creativity, critical thinking and personal responsibility—and they give them this through the medium of writing.
  • They support teachers and give them the tools they need to teach creative writing.
  • They believe everyone has a story to tell, and they help them have their voice heard!

Neuhaus Education Center
Neuhaus Education Center is at the forefront of reading education in Houston, offering resources and information to teachers, parents, students and adult learners.

Why We Love Them:

  • They are committed to raising the profile of reading education.
  • Their resources help EVERYONE who’s looking to learn how to read or to teach reading.
  • They understand that poor readers have a hard future ahead and are looking to alleviate that.

Pup Squad Animal Rescue
Started by a group of BARC volunteers who realized that a shelter was no place for puppies, Pup Squad is a rescue group that focuses on tiny fur babies (aww!) and pregnant dogs who need a safe place to have their litter.

Why We Love Them:

  • Puppies.
  • Puppies.
  • Puppies.

Preservation Houston
We live in a city full of history—just look at the old buildings. Preservation Houston works to keep these architectural gems in tip-top shape, educating and encouraging builders and citizens to restore historic buildings instead of tearing them down.

Why We Love Them:

  • They make preservation cool, getting all ages and all walks of life involved in what it takes to keep Houston historic.
  • The love Houston as much as we do.
  • They advocate for change in policies and attitudes toward restoration.

These groups and SO MANY more (so many, in fact, that we ran out of room to list them all) make our city great. Through the collective effort of more than 18,000 nonprofits (!!) Houston is changing for the better each and every day—and we’re thrilled to be connected to folks making these changes happen.

We’re also straight-up delighted to join them. This January, we’ll be launching Caravan, a community-driven organization designed to connect CSR professionals, philanthropists and nonprofit leaders. Follow along with us and stay tuned for more details, coming in early 2015.

Until then, we want to hear from you. Who are your favorite nonprofits? Share them with us on Twitter and tag them #ThankHOU.