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Holiday Gift Giving Guide

December 7, 2010

The official countdown to Christmas has begun and the rush to get the perfect gift has increased. Over the past few weeks I have posted various fun, useful, and hopefully helpful gift ideas to give your loved ones. This week is a bit of a change. The question this week is what do you give the person who has everything or the person who doesn’t want anything or the person who is a minimalist? How about the gift of helping someone else? This weeks guide has a short list of ideas for charities to donate to. If nothing here sparks your interest or if you aren’t sure about the organization check out this site. It gives a ranked list of 341 charities from around the world.

Who: The Summer Camp

Where: Maine

What they do: The Summer Camp works with social services agencies in New York and New England to provide a positive camping and redirect the lives of girl at-risk.

Why donate: This organization holds a very special place in my heart. Over the course of one summer that I worked there I met so many girls who attitudes I saw changed for the better by the counselors. These girls who attend the camp come from less than desirable circumstances and for 10 days these children actually get to be kids, which is a hard thing for most of them to be. Counselors reward positive behavior, encourage the girls, and in some cases act as mentors or therapists, but more commonly are a source of never-ending hugs. Here I met girls who came in with the weight of the world on their shoulders. Many for the first time heard words of encouragement or told that they could do what ever they dreamed. And seeing that spark in a child’s eye realizing that they are worth something, being praised, and seeing that they are good at something that is incomparable is to anything I have ever experienced.

Who: Project Linus

Where: Find a chapter in the US near you.

What they do: Volunteers across the country work to provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gift of new, handmade blankets.

Why donate: These blankets have been given to Hurricane Katrina victims, kids at the Ronald McDonald House, 9/11 victims, police and fire departments, and even the kids I have worked with at The Summer Camp. They are cherished by the kids and hold a special place in their heart because they are homemade. It is a great sense of comfort for a child in a traumatic situation. Read some of the letters that parents have sent to Project Linus.

Who: Rural Institute for Development Education (RIDE)

Where: India

What they do: RIDE’s goal is to help people to help themselves to improve the quality of their lives. Since RIDE began its work in 1984 the organizations approach has received around a central concept of self-help – that people can not be developed but that they can develop themselves.

Why donate: This is another organization that I have had first hand experience with and what they are doing blew me away. Helping women form groups to take out bank loans that were used to buy seeds, animals, and improve the quality of life in rural India. They help take kids out of factories and reintroduce them back into government. Empowering women, advocating child labor laws, and promoting education is a way to spend your money.

Who : One Laptop Per Child (OLPC)

Where: World wide

What they do: Create educational opportunities for the world’s poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning. When children have access to this type of tool they get engaged in their own education. They learn, share, create, and collaborate. They become connected to each other, to the world and to a brighter future.

Why donate: If you value accessible education for everyone especially in the third world than look no further. This organization provides laptops to those who have no access to proper education and it is working. Attendance has dramatically increased where ever the program has appeared. Right now is one of the few times when you can actually buy one of the laptops that will be donated to the school.

As I said before this is a short list of worthy causes. Which charities do you support?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 7, 2010 7:43 pm

    this is a great post! each year we try to give gifts that benefit others like a donation in a family members name. very cool.

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