Gifts That Keep On Giving
Gifts that help those in need:
Oxfam, Trees For A Change, Heifer International and UNICEF
Birthdays, holidays, graduations ... the list of gift-giving occasions never ends. But what do you get for someone who already has it all—how about a present that helps someone who doesn't? Mark a special day by sharing the joy with those in need, purchased in honor of your friend or loved one.
Oxfam is a powerful voice in alleviating world poverty and has a long history of helping the world's poor, whether in emergency situations, through lobbying and campaigning, or by dedicated aid work on the ground. Their annual program expenditure is around $638.25 million globally, meaning that they appreciate any help they can get! Recognizing that more and more people are willing to forgo traditional gifts in order to help less fortunate families, Oxfam asked some of the poorest people in the world what would really make a difference to their lives. They used the information to create the extensive gift catalogue of Oxfam Unwrapped, which has a diverse range of gift options such as goats, fertilizer, school supplies, solar-powered water, and programs to help women start and maintain their own small businesses. Among the subcategories are "Positive Pressies," where you can donate towards support for people with HIV or AIDS as well as educational and preventative measures; "Working Wonders," which lists sustainable gifts, among them a share in a plantation; and "People Power," which helps give people in developing countries a voice, by distributing radios, materials to prevent domestic violence against women, and promoting education for all.
oxfam.org.uk | Phone: +44 (0)1623 724 366
Trees for a Change
Planting trees is a fun and environmentally sound way to commemorate an event, but if you live in the city and don't have your own land, simply don't have a green thumb, or want to plant a tree in honor of someone who lives elsewhere, turn to Trees for a Change, an organization that will arrange for a tree in the name of your nearest and dearest to be planted in a U.S. National Forest, by a certified employee of the Forest Service. Because the tree will live in a pristine National Forest (it won't be used for lumber), you can't actually have a name or a plaque emblazoned on it, but you'll receive a gift card explaining your donation and listing the recipient's name, and it will be recorded in the National Forest's tree registry. For displaying the sentiment and the certificate, purchase a rustic wooden picture frame made from recycled barns or old homes. Trees are essential to the ecosystem; not only will your arbor help to provide food and habitat (all trees planted are indigenous to the areas), but it will help replenish a forest damaged by wild fire or disease. This really is a gift that keeps on giving, especially if you're concerned about your carbon footprint—in one year a single tree can absorb ten pounds of pollutant from the air and convert 330 pounds of carbon dioxide into oxygen. Rather than leaving future generations a planet severely in distress, you'll be helping to ensure that the earth stays as healthy as possible for years to come.
treesforachange.com | Phone: +1 707 508 9262
PO Box 4351 | Santa Rosa, CA 95402 United States
Does Dad really want another tie? Do the newlyweds really need another set of candlesticks? Instead, buy them a gift worthy of Noah's Ark—perhaps a llama to donate to a family in South America or a flock of chickens for a community in the Philippines. Since 1944, US-based Heifer International has helped the world's poorest help themselves by giving them livestock, animal husbandry training, and other resources that will allow them to create their own livelihoods for the long-term. The innovative organization's name was inspired by the original batch of 17 heifers that were sent from Pennsylvania to Puerto Rico, organized by Midwest farmer Dan West, who had been moved by the plight of children in the Spanish Civil War and their reliance on hand-outs. A heifer is a young female cow that has not yet given birth. As well as a reliable source of milk, the cow is the beginning of a chain of gift-giving; when she has her calves, they will be passed onto another family in need. The knowledge and skills that Heifer teaches are also passed on within the community, particularly between women who would not otherwise get the chance to gain independence in this way. These days, Heifer offers a huge range of gifts from which to choose. The hardy llama is great for people living in the mountains of Peru; not only does it leave minimal impact on the environment, eating scrub that other animals don't eat, but its wool is an important source of survival and income, woven into blankets, ponchos, carpet and rope. Forget wine and cheese—Heifer's “gift baskets” contain a variety of small livestock like chickens, rabbit and even honey bees that can provide a family with nutritious food and income for years to come. Couples who don't want tons of pots and pans for their wedding can go to Heifer.org and create a fun online wedding registry, personalizing it with a message, photo and their customized list of the liveliest gifts ever.
www.heifer.org/ | Phone: +1 800 422 0474
1 World Avenue | Little Rock, AR 72202 United States
World Wildlife Fund Animal Adoption
In August 2007, the Yangtze river dolphin was the first large mammal to be declared extinct in the past 50 years. Since the time of Columbus, only four large mammal families have become extinct, yet these days more and more threatened animals are in danger of following the fate of the river dolphin; species like tigers, pandas and gorillas teeter on the brink. Thankfully the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is on the case. The global group has been championing environmental and wildlife conservation since 1961, and is dedicated to preserving biodiversity the world over—ensuring that species are given a chance a survival. Up to 90% of their funding comes from supporter donations, so give them a helping hand by "adopting" an animal for yourself or a friend. There are different types of adoption packs available—for $25 you receive a certificate and photo of your animals; for $250 you'll also receive a cuddly toy family and have your certificate and photo in a hinged double frame. Whether you're a fan of the traditional WWF symbol, the giant panda, or you want to adopt something more unusual, like anacondas, an octopus or a blue footed booby, there's a huge range of animals, from the cute and fluffy to the big and scary—crocodile anyone? At least you don't have to give it a home! It's a great gift for a child or nature lover who wants to know that they (and you) are doing their bit to try and prevent environmental tragedies.
www.wwf.org | Phone: +1 800 225 5993
UNICEF Inspired Gifts
Pokemon, Wii, iPod or High School Musical—I just can't keep up with what kids think is “cool” anymore. And even if by some stroke of luck you do manage to buy the “in” gift, by next month it'll be forgotten. Instead, why not buy something for kids who'll be really grateful, and are in real need. For 60 years, UNICEF (the United Nations Children's Fund) has been helping children throughout the world fight poverty, disease, abuse and malnutrition—they provide vaccinations for 40% of the world's children. You can become a part of the effort by buying from their “Inspired Gifts” selection and sending an e-card to your birthday boy or girl to let them know how much their present has helped change the lives of less fortunate children. The gifts range from school pencils and books, bicycles and water pumps to vitamins, vaccines and HIV and AIDS medicines. One of my favorites is the "Recreation Kit," which contains enough sporty supplies—such as team tunics, soccer balls, rackets, whistles, scoring slates—for 90 poverty-stricken children to do what they should be doing—play—and it particularly encourages girls to get involved in physical activity. You can also shop for yourself at Unicefusa.org, which has a line of stationery, wrapping paper, greeting and holiday cards and other crafts and gift items, many of them hand-made by artisans in the developing countries served by the organization.
www.unicefusa.org/ | Phone: +1 800 486 4233
125 Maiden Lane | New York, NY 10038 United States