We’re heading into one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year. Millions of holiday shoppers will be out in full force. And yes, you can join them. You can elbow your way around the malls and jockey other drivers for the last spot in the whole parking lot…………if you want. But there is an alternative. A much better alternative; let me explain.
You’re already sitting at your computer, or you’re on your phone. Do this: pour yourself your favourite beverage (appropriate for this time of day), get out your credit card and you can make some purchases that will be really meaningful for you and all the people on your list. What follows are my top 10 recommendations for gifts you can buy or contributions you can make that will do double duty: they’ll warm the heart of your loved one AND make a difference in someone else’s life.
1. Buy a Lucky Iron Fish. Just click here: Put A Fish In Every Pot. When you buy a fish – which will surely create conversation around the breakfast table – Lucky Iron Fish donates one to a family in Cambodia that needs more iron in their diet. For more on what this organization does go to Is That a fly in My Soup?
2. Choose a beautiful gift made of used saris from Sari Bari. There are thousands of beautiful items to choose from, from diaper bags to bed covers to T-shirts. When you purchase something from Sari Bari you are helping women in Kolkata India create new lives for themselves. Want to know more about Sari Bari? Take a look at my post on empowering women here.
4. Or, invest in the sisterhood that is Solar Sister. You’ll be helping woman entrepreneurs who are providing light and electricity to their communities across Africa. Light is a beautiful thing during the holidays. Give it here.
5. I didn’t blog about Kiva, but Kiva allows you to provide micro-loans (as little as $25.00) to entrepreneurs so they can start a small businesses and become self-sufficient. It’s a loan – not a grant! On the Kiva site you can browse thousands of profiles of micro-entrepreneurs looking to finance their road to independence. Just the gift for that special someone on your list.
6. Maybe you remember the story of Canadian, Craig Kielburger who started Free the Children when he was 12 years old? Free the Children is now WE and they support education for all children. To support their charitable work they sell lots of cool items. WE is most known for their rafiki bracelets which are all made by Mamas in Kenya and each bracelet can be traced back to its creator. Get a rafiki: send a child to school.
7. Is there a child on your list? One that likes stuffed animals? Through World Wildlife Fund you can make a symbolic adoption of one (or more!) of six endangered animals. Like an adorable baby orangutan, a sea turtle or maybe the snow leopard. When you adopt one of these animals you not only help protect it from extinction you also receive an adorable cuddly toy, personalized adoption certificate, an educational species poster, a reusable tote bag and a charitable tax receipt. Get the conversation about animal protection started with the young one on your list.
Looking for something a little more local?
8. The Scott Mission will serve over 10,000 meals this Christmas season. And they can’t do that without the support of people like you and me. For a contribution of only $24.50, you help feed 6 people. You’ll enjoy your own turkey dinner a little more knowing that someone who is down on their luck is able to enjoy a warm meal too.
9. Didn’t give to the United Way yet this year? They’re like the uber-fundraiser for community-based social agencies across the province. They raise the funds and then distribute them to thousands of local agencies that help everyone from the young to the old, from the able-bodied to the disabled; from new Canadians to long-time Canadians to those who are just struggling to get by. You know that if you make a donation to United Way you will make someone’s life a little bit easier.
10. And last, but not least, one of my favourite organizations, Moorelands Community Services. Helping young people of the Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park neighbourhoods of Toronto since 1912. They offer youth leadership programs, baby bundles for newborns and lots of support for new Canadians. I’m certain that a number of Canada’s new Syrian refugees are finding support from Moorelands.
There you have it. 10 great gift ideas that will make a difference in the world AND, keep you out of the malls this weekend. Happy Holidays to all!