Okay now what? October was spent planning for Thanksgiving and Halloween and although I could stand to look at Christmas decorations three months out of the year, I do like to think I have some sense of self control; I can’t very well put the tree up just yet. But because I live on the other side of the country from most of my family I am left mailing gifts each year which means I need to get a head start on things. This also means I am limited on the size and weight of the gifts I buy unless I want to pay a ridiculous cost of shipping. So, what to give?
One gift that I have given to several family members for the last few years, is the gift of giving. There are several organizations that allow you to donate money to those who find themselves in less than desirable situations. Sites such as CanadaHelps, Plan, and Heifer International allow you to choose from several categories of who you would like to help. When I choose these for my gifts I insert a little note inside a card telling my recipient that a donation has been made in their honor to the specific charity. You could get creative and find other ways to still give the gift a pretty presentation. If you want your friends and family to still have something to unwrap under the tree there are also great products you can buy where portions of the proceeds go to charities as well. Two great sites I found for these are Peace Collective (I bought two items for family from here already) and The Good Trade has a list of 25 brands each for both men and women of items you can purchase and your money also goes towards charities they support or to various people in at-risk situations around the world. The site gives a great explanation as to how your money helps. One that I really can’t stop thinking about is JC Denim Co, check it out.
While I believe it is important to reach out and help others on a global level, I think people often forget about the less fortunate in our own communities. And although it may be too early to be thinking of the holiday season for you, I wanted to catch you before you were to head out and open your wallets at yet another big box store or fill your kids bedrooms with more junky toys they don’t need. Too many children return to school after the holidays and see new things their peers received from “Santa” when they didn’t even have so much as a real Christmas dinner.
Some of the donations I made as gifts in previous years include school lunches for children in my community, supplies to plant a garden for a family in a developing country, access to clean water in underdeveloped countries, Red Cross disaster relief, financial support for single mothers battling cancer, and local food banks to name a few. These were all things that tugged at my heart strings, but choose what you feel is important. If you’re not sure where to start check out some of the links I’ve included above to help you decide. But please, don’t let me sway your decision of who to help; if it’s your desire to support an environmentalist group rather than the humanitarians, then get to it! The point is to help others. I heard a great quote somewhere that said “if you have more than you need build a longer table, not a higher fence.” I try to remember this as often as I can. Just help people. Just do it.