Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Ideas for your Christmas List

I know it's a little early for resolutions (or a little late, depending how you look at it), but this Christmas season I made a resolution to be more purposeful about gift giving. My resolution was simple: If I can't readily think of a gift for someone on my list, I'm going to make a charitable donation in their honor.
There are also tons of creative ways to honor people with "gifts that give back". You can buy some really cool gifts that offer a side benefit like, feeding orphans, providing clean water, or otherwise assisting those who live in desperate situations.
So, if you're struggling with what to get that person on your list who "has everything", consider some of these options:
Charity:water : Send a beautifully wrapped $20 bottle of water to your loved one and give one person clean water for 20 years. 100% of your donation goes to building wells. Other gifts are also available, but this is the one I'm sending to a few people on my list this year. (Shhh - don't tell).
beadforlife: BeadforLife helps Ugandan women turn colorful recycled paper into beautiful beads. The beads thus become income, food, medicine, school fees -- and hope. All profits from BeadforLife are invested in community development projects that generate income and help people work their way out of poverty. I have personally purchased beaded jewelry for some very special people on my list this year. It's really neat jewelry, and it comes with a colorful card explaining the origin and the significance of the gift.

SUUBI: means "hope" - which is exactly what you'll be providing to Ugandan women when you purchase necklaces and apparel from SUUBI. Light Gives Heat buys necklaces from the women of Suubi each week (tripling their profit) and provides education and training to them. The beads are made of recycled paper and are stunning. Check out the store here, there are also some really cool t-shirts available.
AHope: AHOPE for Children is a non-profit organization whose mission is to serve the children of Ethiopia, with a primary emphasis on caring for orphans infected with HIV. AHOPE offers several gift options; two that struck me were the t-shirts, because kids always need t-shirts and these bracelets. Each stainless steel AHOPE bracelet features the AHOPE logo, the first name of an AHOPE child, and the Amharic word for "hope." The bracelets serve as a reminder of the special children at AHOPE, and raise awareness of the plight of HIV+ orphans in the world. The cost is $10. One trip to this website will leave you humbled, seeing these precious little ones and knowing that they have AIDs is almost too much to bear. Who wouldn't want to help? By the time I finish this post, Amaya will have one of those pink t-shirts on order!
Heifer.org: Heifer provides animals to people in need throughout the world. This simple idea of giving families a source of food rather than short-term relief caught on and has continued for over 60 years. Today, millions of families in 128 countries have been given the gifts of self-reliance and hope. Heifer has offers an online gift catalog where you can donate animals (from a flock of chicks for $20 to a whole ark of animals for $5000 - and lots of options for gifts anywhere in between). My team recently got together to donate a sheep in leiu of buying each other individual gifts this year. If you make the donation in someone's honor, Heifer will send a donation card for you, or you can print one off their site and send it yourself.
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Worldvision: What I really like about Worldvision is that you can order a physical catalog. I know that is very un-earth-friendly of me, but I wanted to give a gift certificate to a family that would allow them to pick out items together. I think the kids will really enjoy choosing how to spend the gift card. Worldvision has smaller denomination options, like a chicken for $13, or two ducks for $12. Last year, our kids did this for their teachers through Samaritan's purse, and they really enjoyed the process of picking out a special items to donate in honor of their teachers. Plus, it's such a great way to educate kids about global issues and poverty.
Samaritian's Purse: Samaritian's purse organizes Operation Christmas Child and so much more. They're a great organization, and as I mentioned, you can browse their huge gift catalog (which appears to be online only this year) to select gifts to donate in honor of someone special. With Samaritian's Purse, you can really get a bang for your buck. You can buy milk for a child for a week for $4, or $9 to feed a baby for a week. You can also purchase livestock, such as a brood of chicks (24) for $25. They send out cards acknowledging your donation to those you are honoring. I would definitely use them again this year if only I could figure out how to get my hands on a physical copy of the gift catalog. (If you can figure out how to order one, let me know!)
tinyrockstar: Nuff said.

Gobena Coffee: Gobena Coffee offers fresh-roasted gourmet fair trade, organic, shade-grown coffee delivered right to your door. Each coffee is skillfully roasted in small batches for peak quality and freshness. In addition to experiencing the finest and freshest coffee, with each order placed, you are helping children throughout the world. 100% of the profits are being reinvested in the lives of orphan children through charity programs. Coffee can be ordered from different regions, it comes in whole bean and ground, decaf and regular. The cost is $11 per one pound bag. We have ordered Gobena whole bean coffee from Ethiopia, which Dirt gives a thumbs up. It's a great gift for a coffee-lover on your list and sure beats buying from Starbucks.

Saints Coffee: Saint’s Coffee is a small-batch, micro-roaster offering specialty blends and unique varietals of 100% Fair Trade Certified™ and organic coffees. But beyond being the freshest, finest, and fairest of them all—Saint’s Coffee is transforming the lives of orphaned children by investing over 1/3rd of net profits from every sale into organizations helping children. Know that with each bag purchased, you have fed an orphan for a month. Saints Coffee offers a really wide selection of coffees, from "St. George the Dragonslayer" to "Cinnamon Sticky Bun" (my mouth just watered while typing that) A 1-pound bag is $12, but you can also get a 5-lb bag, or gift pack options.

keepachildalive: (Alicia Keyes' organization) offers this fun t-shirt, buy one and you'll offer life-saving RSV drugs to children with AIDs. Is there anything sadder than children with AIDs? It hurts my heart just thinking about it. Keepachildalive offers other gifts as well, like a $5000 "key to life", there are only 100 of these in existence and Alicia Keyes has #1 and Queen Latifah has #2, you know I'd get one myself, but with the economy right now and all...
Oxfam: Oxfam has a fun online gift catalog as well. You can actually send a can a worms in honor of someone special (very special) for $18. There are also many, many other gifts to choose from, such as livestock, school supplies, medical supplies and farming tools. Like the other organizations, a card will be sent to the person you are honoring.
joinred (RED) is associated with the great work that Bono is doing through his organization, ONE. (RED) products are offered through partner companies, like Gap, Apple, Converse, Dell, Windows, and others. (RED) products do not cost more, the partner company contributes money to the Global Fund by sharing a portion of its profit to help people affected by AIDS in Africa. The company pays extra – the purchaser does not. Check out which everyday items you can buy in RED (like Ipods - hint to Dirt).
Other gifts that give back
This is obviously not an exhaustive list, there are so many great organizations out there doing good things for others (or is it "good organizations doing great things for others"?). This list represents organizations that I've researched and have personally used, or plan to use. If you know of any other organizations that I should check out, please let me know! Oh, and if you haven't checked out the Advent Conspiracy video, I'd highly recommend it.


~Seth and Nancy~ said...

thanks for the suggestions...i might order something from beadforlife...there's some very pretty stuff!

The Crime Fighting Ninja said...

Good Suggestions. I have one to add to your list. Kazuri Beads, I had the pleasure of going on a tour in their factory in Nairobi. The story behind this place is that it was started to help women to provide for their families, especially Single Mothers in order for them not to depend on the government. The location even has a Clinic on site so that the workers and their families can receive medical care under the company umbrella. Kazuri Beads is sold state side at various resellers, but profits go back to the mother land (sort of speak). I have some jewelry I bought while I was there and gave some out as gifts and they are lovely.

MaineMom said...

I am so on this!! I love these ideas and truly hope that these types of "gifts" can make a difference!!

MaineMom said...

P.S. I just ordered my boss's wife some jewelry at BeadforLife. She's going to Africa in January and will love this gift!

Wendi said...

Great post! And I love Bead 4 Life!!! I still have the long multi available, but the white choker is gone...I need to order some more chokers for me, too! If you want to order any of the long multis, you can send me a mail (wendi@henrylegacy.com) and/or use the 'donate' button on our blogsite for payment - $20 each, plus $4.75 shipping priority up to 4 necklaces, 5 or more is $9.50 shipping. Thanks!

Grandma said...

Great gifts to give my rich friends. I already had a pamphlet on the Heifer organization. Now with all of these suggestions, I will have to rethink my choice.