The most innocent are often the most vulnerable. Children often bear the brunt of disasters and war in disproportionate numbers. According to the group Save the Children, more than 8 million children perish every year before the age of 5 for reasons ranging from disease to malnutrition. And an estimated 358,000 women will die due to pregnancy or childbirth complications [source: Save the Children]. Just as alarming are reports indicating that although child mortality rates overall have declined worldwide, the life expectancy gap between the richest and poorest children continues to grow. Further, children -- some as young as 9 years old -- are often exploited during war, forcibly enlisted to fight for competing factions [source: Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers].
Fortunately, there are many relief organizations both home and abroad with the primary goal of helping those who are most helpless. In addition to the Connecticut-based Save the Children and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), other leading groups include Children's Hunger Relief Fund, ChildFund International, Children's Defense Fund and Childcare Worldwide. Many child-related organizations allow donors to "adopt" a child, giving them a more rewarding personal relationship with their beneficiaries. Others, such as Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, look to end the practice of recruiting children to fight.