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Acupuncture Needles: Hair-Thin Instruments of Healing

Although many fear hospital needles, those used in acupuncture are much less scary. Check out Groupon’s examination of acupuncture needles to ease any lingering aichmophobia.

Acupuncture generally doesn’t draw blood—a testament to the skill of professional acupuncturists but also to the special needles they use. Unlike the needles commonly feared by hospital-goers, acupuncture needles are thin enough to slip through the skin without breaking any blood vessels. Although most are roughly the thickness of a hair or a pixie’s wand, they come in several varieties for different treatment types: thinner needles provide less stimulation and are often used for children or the elderly; shorter needles treat the head and face; and longer needles (up to 5 inches long) target the thighs and other fleshy areas to reach points along the body’s theoretical energy pathways, known as meridians.

Filiform needles are the most common, comprising a stainless-steel wire sharpened at one end and wrapped at the other to form a handle. With a quick, skilled hand—or the aid of an insertion tube—practitioners insert the tip just beneath the skin’s surface, and although a small prickle may be felt, once the needles are in, the patient shouldn’t feel them at all. Today, most acupuncturists use disposable needles due to their safety and simplicity, but some may use reusable steel or even gold needles, sterilizing them between use in the same way doctors or guitarists do their instruments.

The practice of acupuncture stretches back more than 5,000 years, well before stainless steel was a household commodity. Archaeologists have dug up traces of the implements early healers used to get energy, or chi, flowing properly through the body: sharpened stones were a popular choice, as were delicate needles of bone.

12911 Woodmore Road
Bowie,
MD
US

On the Saturday after Halloween, a herd of adults and kids will gather at Bladensburg Waterfront Park to sweat?and scream?for a good cause. Raising money to support children, the Trick or Treat 5K invites participants to dress up in a costume and compete for top honors and fun prizes. Among those rewards is a round-trip ticket to any location on a Southwest flight, given to the top male and female performers. Other awards go to the top three in each age division, best costume for grownups and little ones, and most legs. A party with live music, food and drinks, and sponsor booths greets runners after the race just past the finish line.

4601 Annapolis Road
Bladensburg,
MD
US

When she was a tutor to children from low-income families in Washington, DC, Kyle Zimmer was amazed by how excited students would get whenever given their own books. As she relayed in a 2011 New York Times story, this work inspired Zimmer to start First Book, an organization dedicated to making reading materials accessible to children in need.

Today, nearly 20 years after Zimmer's eureka moment, First Book works toward this goal through two channels: the First Book Marketplace, an online store with quality books—including Caldecott and Newbery award-winners—available at up to 90% below the retail price, and the First Book National Book Bank, a clearinghouse for publishers’ excess inventory. To date, the organization has distributed more than 100 million books and educational resources to 50,000 schools and programs throughout the United States and Canada—with more added each month.

The impact has been inspiring. An internal study found that 70% of children reported reading more at home after receiving books from First Book. In recognition of this and other accomplishments, the organization has received numerous awards and honors, including the 2005 Nonprofit Innovation Award and a four-star rating from Charity Navigator.

See how Groupon helps you discover local causes and lend a helping hand to projects big and small at the Groupon Grassroots blog.

1319 F St NW
Washington,
DC
US

In 1989, Karin Walser was leaving her job on the Hill when she stopped at a gas station. Several young children offered to pump her gas in exchange for change. Moved by their stories, she organized a trip to the zoo to help them experience the city in a new way. She soon founded Horton’s Kids to address the needs of children living in poverty around the city. The organization’s volunteers provide a wide range of services for participating children, including regular tutoring in reading and math and activities such as swimming lessons in local pools. In 2011, Horton’s Kids was awarded the Washington Post Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management due to its long service educating and empowering the youth in Ward 8 with academic and social programs.

110 Maryland Ave NE
Washington,
DC
US

As their motto goes, "It's all about the music." Eschewing props, costumes, and staging for a focus on the sounds of voices and instruments, the Washington Concert Opera seeks to thrill audiences with performances by some of the profession's leading lights. Their stripped-down approach allows the company to focus on rarely produced works, from little-known Rossinis to classic Puccini B-sides.

1808 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington,
DC
US

Miriam's Kitchen’s nourishing meals are the organization’s cornerstone service, welcoming 250–350 men and women each weekday with nutritious breakfasts and dinners. Menus feature whole grains, fresh meats, and local and organic fruits and vegetables. An average morning may open with scrambled eggs with salmon, roasted home fries, warm biscuits, and fresh-fruit salad. Evening guests dine on well-balanced fare such as pasta in marinara sauce, sautéed broccoli, garden salad, and whole-wheat rolls. Local farmers' markets and grocery stores donate much of the food, helping to keep costs to an average of $1 or less per meal. In 2010, the kitchen provided more than 75,000 meals.

2401 Virginia Ave NW
Washington,
DC
US