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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

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

During the summer Horton’s Kids Summer Camp helps provide students with a healthy, constructive environment, mitigating the "summer slide" in literacy that can occur during the long break and engaging kids with outings around the city. Throughout the six-week program, students focus on improving their literacy in half-day classes and exploring DC on daily field trips. Some excursions promote fitness, such as trips to the pool, and others focus on education, such as visits to museums. The summer camp also augments the class work and activities with healthy meals and snacks every day of the program.

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

Each year, the organization's Summer Games program provides 250,000 children across the Gaza Strip with an opportunity to participate in a range of activities including swimming, acting, art projects, and various enriching discussions. Previous Summer Games activities have achieved new world records for the most kites flown simultaneously and the most people dribbling basketballs simultaneously. However, some children who wish to participate in the Summer Games do not own the clothing they need to feel confident among their peers or fully involve themselves in every event. To help ensure each child has appropriate clothing to fully engage in each activity, American Friends of UNRWA equips Summer Games participants with a cap, shirt, and a pair of sneakers, all of which are funded by donor contributions.

1666 K St NW
Washington,
DC
US

The Neighbors in Need Fund is a project of the Community Foundation that responds to economic hardship with donations of food, clothing, shelter, and aid with foreclosure prevention. The fund also reinforces community support networks, such as medical and mental care facilities. The Neighbors in Need Fund distributes food and funds across the region through more than 700 partner organizations and has provided aid to more than 100,000 people since its inception in 2008.

1201 New York Ave NW
Washington,
DC
US