Give a Meaningful Gift this Christmas
This is a guest post by Melanie Johnston. Originally from Tennessee, a vegan into tennis and journalism, Melanie is now with the Air Force studying linguistics. She has a lot of dreams, but first on her checklist are to travel, be an advocate for the poor, and learn a language really really well.
The Chore of Christmas
In today’s society it seems as if Christmas is simply to get gifts. The newest, the best, the thing with the most gadgets.
Even if you’re not that self-centered, giving gifts can sometimes feel like a pointless chore. Sure, it’s nice to give gifts to your family, but is it necessary to buy something for Uncle John or Great-Aunt Jane that they don’t even want or need?
Most likely it will be thrown out after a while or stashed in a box underneath another box in the depths of an attic or basement.
What if, instead of stressing out over giving each other stuff we don’t even need, we all agreed to give to those who will really benefit from it? With the internet today, it is easier to support causes and make small donations. Here are some ways that you can give this Christmas season.
Giving Meaningful Gifts
TOMS shoes have become quite popular—when you buy a pair, a pair is donated to a child in need. They come in different styles, colors, and are for those of all ages.
Something similar to TOMS is the Epic Movement. Epic sells watches; through each one bought, a water filter is distributed to village in a developing country. Timepieces are available in varied colors and have detachable bands that also come in a variety of colors.
A more unusual idea is Heifer International, where you can buy a cow for a family. Or a llama, water buffalo—even chickens and ducks—and other animals that help a family sustain themselves throughout the year. For example, a goat costs $120, which might seem too much, but for $10 you can buy a share of a goat, that will theoretically go into a pot for a goat that, once it receives enough money, will be sent a family.
Of course, there are local organizations that could always benefit from your help, as well— items for the thrift store, or food for a food pantry, for example.
In any event, finding tangible ways to help others can be a way to brighten your holiday without going through the motions of buying unwanted gifts.
This post was originally posted December 2011 at The Eagles Nest
Each day there are new special deals at The Hunger Site Store– This store is unique as there is a HUGE variety of fair trade products, including a larger selection of less-expensive gifts. In addition, each purchase provides at least 25 cups of food, distributed through Mercy Corp, Millennium Promise, and Feeding America.
Charity Gift Market always has free shipping, and it sells fair-trade and social good products, mostly made by workers who are able to raise out from extreme poverty by these small social businesses that employ them. Many of these workers are also survivors of human rights abuses from war, rape or modern slavery. You can shop by charity, cause, or product.
The above two are examples of stores where you actually get to have a tangible gift that can be placed under a Christmas tree. You can get something handmade, from an Etsy shop or craft fair that supports a cause, like at the Adorn with Love Shop mentioned in this post.
But if you don’t mind giving a donation in honor of someone’s name, the following are great options:
Similar to Heifer International, World Vision, Samartian’s Purse, and Oxfam International all are some great organizations which also have gift catalogs. From these you can buy birds, bees, fruit trees, and seeds. Or you can purchase soccer balls, building tools, educational or religious materials, and other animals or useful things which will be donated around the world in your name, or more accurately, the name of whom you donated in honor of for this Christmas.
If you really care about ending human trafficking or other justice issues, International Justice Mission released a gift catalog this year, Gifts of Freedom– where you can pay for a day of recovery, counseling sessions, the cost for lawyers to fight on behalf of the oppressed, or you can even fund a rescue mission to free slaves.
If a friend or family member have a particular cause or charity they love, almost all organizations have gifts you can buy from their store or the ability to donate to them in honor of someone else.
But, if you are at lost for which cause to donate to, let them choose themselves with a gift card to Global Giving, a store which gives to your choice of organizations and causes.. Another place your recipient gets to choose themselves whom their donation goes to is Kiva.org, a home of micro-loans to the poor which change people’s lives. I’ve been given gifts from both of these websites, and I have a ton of fun choosing what/who I want to give my “gift” to.
In other words, use this Christmas to change the world!
If you have any other great ideas, please be sure to put them in the comment section! The more ideas, the better!