Giving back for the holidays

(photo by Christine Rutz, flickr)

‘Tis the season of giving. With Christmas a week away, the flurry-scurry to find the right gifts for everyone on your list adds stress to an already stress-filled time.

As in past years, here are ideas and suggestions for gifts that give back to others.

Founded in 1933, the International Rescue Committee provides emergency relief, post-conflict aid, human rights protection and advocacy for those uprooted due to violence or oppression. One of their programs is Safe Delivery. A $24 “gift” ensures that a mother in a war-torn or disaster-ridden area has a safe place to deliver her babyThere’s a matching challenge in place until December 31st. Check out Gifts under $50 at Gifts.rescue.org.

Each Goodshirts you purchase lets you give the item it displays

There’s a collaborative program between UNICEF and Threadless, a Chicago-based company and online community of artists with a unique approach to t-shirt design. Goodshirts was created to bring support to the famine crisis in the horn of Africa. Each t-shirt in the Goodshirts collection is priced at the exact amount as the urgently needed aid item that’s pictured on the shirt. These include a shirt for mosquito netting ($18.57) one for measles vaccines ($24.30) and Ready-to-eat Therapeutic Food (high protein peanut paste for $73.13). There are also other higher priced options. You’ll find them all at www.threadless.com/UNICEF.

A gift of these t-shirts helps save a homeless shelter animal

There are t-shirts for animal lovers too. AdopTees designs t-shirts that help save lives of animals in shelters. For each one purchased, 50 percent of the proceeds go to help homeless animals get adopted. Learn more at Adopteesonline.com.

Illiteracy is a global issue. In many parts of the world, girls are its primary victims. A gift to Room to Read helps change the story, providing supplies, school uniforms and textbooks. Reading is the path out of poverty. Find out how you can help.

A ProWorld volunteer vacation worksite in Peru

If you or a loved one is more hands on, give a volunteer vacation where they can help build a school, create ceramic water filters to provide clean water or any number of projects. A portion of the fee paid to ProWorld goes directly to the community for these much-needed projects. Help measure the impact of eco-tourism on the Amazon rainforest or help create vital habitat for endangered elephants in Thailand. Discover the many exciting volunteer opportunities they have to offer.

Just $5 will plant a tree in the Brazillian rainforest

Short on funds but want to do something special? A $5 donation to IgiveTrees.com will help restore a rainforest in Brazil by planting a tree. Or you can give a monthly donation.  Check them out today.

Is that someone special more into jewelry? Never fear. At Altruette, a line of philanthropic jewelry, you can purchase beautiful charms, each depicting a specific cause, charm bracelets or necklaces. Among the thirty-three non-profits your purchase would support are Embrace, which helps fight infant mortality with the Infant Warmer blanket, and Operation Gratitude, which sends care packages to members of all branches of the armed forces. Jewelry for a cause takes the guilt away. Check it out at Altruette.com.

These beautiful charms by Altruette are helping save lives around the world

Want to empower people around the world to step out of poverty? Kiva does this through their microloan program. Lending as little as $25 could help a single mother start her own business, feed her family and send her children to school. Simply browse the different loan requests and choose the one you’d like to fund. Kiva streamlines the loan process. When the recipient repays the loan, you can re-invest and loan it out again. It’s the gift that keeps on giving! See how at Kiva.org.

Still unsure what give back to choose? Then check out the Holiday Give Back catalogs by Filanthropists.com and World Vision.

World Vision’s catalog of over 250 gifts helps families in need. Just $16 will feed a family here in the U.S. for a day or you can provide supplies to support a child’s education for $32. Learn more at Worldvision.org.

My Own Pet Balloon ($5) helps Canines for Disabled Kids

Every product featured in Filanthropists.com’s catalog is affiliated with a charity or nonprofit organization. My favorites include:

Visit Filanthropists.com and choose one you’d like to give to.

Give back to others this holiday. You’ll be making a profound difference in someone’s life.

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