12/08/2014 09:14 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

6 Necessities That You Probably Take For Granted (But Many People Desperately Need)

If you live in an American home with running water and heat, you’re probably aware of the huge advantage we were given just by being born to a family in a developed nation. As you likely know, third-world countries lack money, clean drinking water, and medicines to treat rampant diseases. But what about other very basic needs and connections? To us, it is a given that the itchy mosquito bites we get at home during the summer won’t result in malaria, or the fact that 90 percent of American adults own a cellphone and can call family members whenever they want.

We’ve partnered with Johnson & Johnson to provide a list of everyday things that we take for granted, but could be considered a luxury around the world (and for some, here at home.) If you want to donate any of these basic necessities, make sure to check out the incredible organizations below!

Sanitary Pads and Underwear
africa school girls

Due to social stigma, a lack of toilets and a dearth of hygienic products, many young girls living in underdeveloped nations miss an average of a full week of school every month because of their menstrual cycles. This gap in education ultimately results in many not continuing on to secondary school. And in some families, mothers, daughters and sisters will share towels or used cloths instead of sanitary pads, leaving them susceptible to the spread of venereal diseases.

How you can make a difference: AFRIpads is an organization that focuses its efforts on providing education and supplies to better the menstrual hygiene for East African women and girls. They provide hygiene and menstrual kits that provide protection for up to 12 menstrual cycles, and strive to preserve the environment by providing reusable products.

Bug Protection
malaria nets

Malaria is a serious issue in nearly all African countries. And unlike other common diseases such as West Nile virus, which can be prevented by applying a heavy-duty insecticide, malaria isn’t so easy to avoid. Patients experience severe flu-like symptoms, and can die if the disease is left untreated. According to the Center for Disease Control, there were approximately 627,000 malaria-related deaths in 2012, which mostly consisted of children in sub-Saharan Africa. The World Health Organization and the CDC recommend the use of “insecticide-treated bed nets” or (ITNs) to limit the risk.

How you can make a difference: At NothingButNets, $10 will provide purchase, delivery, and education on proper use of the net donated to a family. The site also allows gift amounts of up to $1,000 online.

A Goat

In a vast contrast to the ease of stepping into a grocery store and buying dinner, many families in developing countries rely on livestock for both financial and nutritional sustenance. A single farm animal can not only feed a family with milk, butter, yogurt and more, but also provides a source of income for them by selling the excess.

How you can make a difference: Both Heifer International and Save the Children allow you to donate goats to children and families. Through Heifer International, you can choose from a list of different livestock to send to those in need, while Save the Children gives you the opportunity to donate school supplies, library books and vitamins as well.

De-Worming Treatments
africa sick child

While many Americans are familiar with de-worming medications that are administered to pets, many have no concept of the fact that it is also an issue for many human beings living in unsanitary conditions. In third world nations, roundworms, whipworms, and hookworms are “the most common causes of infection” according to the WHO. These are known in the medical world as soil-transmitted helminths, and more than 800 million children live in breeding grounds for these parasites. These worms cause malnutrition and appetite loss in the host, exacerbating these central issues in communities where parasites are a common concern.

How you can make a difference: Johnson & Johnson has partnered with The Task Force for Global Health to create Children Without Worms which focuses on the prevention of soil-transmitted helminths in children around the world and encourage visitors to the site to become involved with the organization.

Telephone Calls
soldier phone

For most of us, it’s easy to stay connected with family, even if there’s great physical distance between you. But for service members who are sent off to undisclosed locations or in places far from a cell service, that phone call home is few and far between. As many know, being physically distant from loved ones can be heartbreaking enough, but not being able to contact them can make the situation even more painful.

How you can make a difference: Johnson & Johnson’s Donate a Photo app partnered with The USO to provide deployed U.S. service members with the opportunity to talk to their friends and families. For every photo (yes, an actual digital photo) you submit or “donate” to the USO through the app Johnson & Johnson*, will contribute $1 to USO, and that single dollar helps provide a 30-minute video or phone call for deployed service members. You can download the app for your iOS or Android device at


When applying for a job, having a phone number on your resume is vital. It’s the go-to when a potential employer wants to contact you to schedule an interview or, in the best case scenario, offer you the job. And if you miss the call? No problem -- there’s a voicemail message with the necessary information for you to continue the process. But what happens if you don’t have a voicemail? For those, who are homeless or phoneless, this is a very real constraint on their attempts to move beyond their current circumstances.

How you can make a difference: Springwire provides users with a consistent local ten-digit phone number that puts calls into a personalized voicemail system. The user can check the voicemail any time of day or night. Springwire is now part of the Feeding America initiative, an organization that contributes to the sadly common and equally important issue of hunger in the U.S.

* Johnson & Johnson has curated a list of trusted causes, and you can donate a photo to one cause, once a day. Each cause will appear in the app until it reaches its goal, or the donation period ends. If the goal isn't reached, the cause will still get a minimum donation.