It’s sometimes hard to think about issues we don’t see in our own lives, especially in a progressive county such as Cobb. As the holidays arrive, the giving spirit is upon us, and with National Adoption Day right around the corner on Nov. 22, 2014, the time has come to reconsider who we can help—because giving has the power to impact the community at large and truly change lives. All year long, and especially during the holidays, the need for a good home for homeless children and animals exists all around us. At any given time, there are between 400–450 homeless children and only around 125 foster homes in Cobb County.

Providing a good home for someone in need has so many benefits for the adopters and adoptee alike. Many couples that dream of starting families are unable to do so for one reason or another, and adoption provides an opportunity for a child in need of a home and a family that wants to raise a child to come together. Often the decision to adopt will end a couple’s struggle with infertility and give orphaned children opportunities they never could have dreamed of. As for pets, you don’t need a sad ASPCA commercial to tell you what a good home means to an abandoned or homeless pet. Pets take on every role you need them to, from new best friend to an exercise buddy and lifetime companion. All types of animals are available for adoption—from dogs and cats to rabbits and reptiles, there is a pet that fits your lifestyle that would love to go home with you.

The resources in this area for both homeless children and pet adoptions are numerous. From Calvary Children’s Home in Powder Springs to the Center for Children and Young Adults (CCYA), Cobb residents have the ability to impact the lives of local children living apart from their families by fostering, donating, volunteering and adopting. CCYA invites members of the community to share their talents and time with everything from cooking and art classes to physical fitness and technology and business skills to help these kids succeed.

Despite what many believe about shelter animals, they often make the best pets—usually a pet in a shelter was relinquished due to allergies, a move, lack of time available to care for them or a sick or deceased owner rather than due to the fault or behavior of the animal. Every year, millions of animals that are well-behaved and looking for a loving home are destroyed in shelters waiting for their family to come. If you’re on the fence about adopting a pet due to time commitment and level of care needed, pick up the phone and call some of Cobb’s local shelters and homeless animal organizations and start asking questions.

The people who care for these animals know their temperaments better than anyone, and each animal and breed comes with their own unique personality and needs. A match is out there and you will find an animal that completes your home and enriches your life. One excellent source in Marietta is The Homeless Pets Foundation, which works to connect future homes with homeless pets that need their lives saved. The Humane Society of Cobb County is a no-kill shelter that offers sterilization programs, as well as lost and found, rescue and adoption services. Atlanta Pet Rescue is located in Smyrna, while various rescue groups in Cobb and the animals they care for can be found on petfinder.com.

When in doubt, sponsor a child in need through ChildFund International, where 82 percent of your monthly donation goes directly to your child.

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