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Let Your Holiday Gift Give Twice, Give a Gift of Service

Saturday, November 29, 2008 by: Laura Weldon
Tags: holiday gifts, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) Gifts are a holiday tradition, but you don't have to deal with crowded stores or face the aggravation of trying to buy for people who have everything. This year consider giving presents that give twice. Your holiday spending can benefit far more than friends and family members on your list. It can plant a tree, dig a village well or train a midwife.

Many reputable non-profit organizations offer such "gifts of service." Most will send a card to the recipient you choose, detailing the work your donation will provide in their name.

Adopt An Acre is a land purchase program sponsored by The Nature Conservancy. So far it has protected 600,000 acres around the world from logging and other development.
Your gift of $50 adopts an acre of land in danger of deforestation. The program sends the recipient of your gift a personalized certificate, a fact sheet, car magnet and subscription to the organization's magazine. To adopt, call 800-84-adopt or go to www.nature.org/joinanddonate/adoptanacre

Alternative Gifts International partners with established charities in the interest of a peaceful world community and environmental protection.
A gift of $15 provides three day's healthy food for an American struggling with hunger. A donation of $17 covers neonatal education for a medical professional, helping him or her to save the lives of newborns in Romania. A check for $19 provides a week of aftercare for a rescued victim of slavery in South Asia. A gift of $44 provides a solar cooker, empowering women in Kenya to become ambassadors for solar technology while also enabling them to boil water and prevent water-borne diseases. For more gift selections or to purchase call 800-842-2243 or go to www.altgifts.org

Heifer International's approach to ending world hunger has to do with life-sustaining gifts that expand on what the organization calls "unimaginable blessings." For example, when one family receives a milk cow from Heifer International, they agree to give that cow's first calf along with their own knowledge of animal husbandry to someone else in the community. The recipient of that calf makes the same agreement, and so on.
A check for $20 gives a family a starter flock of chicks. A gift of $30 provides a family with a hive, package of bees and training in beekeeping. And $500 purchases a milk cow. For more gifts or to purchase, contact at 800-422-0474 or www.heifer.org

Nothing But Nets focuses on malaria prevention, a disease which kills over a million children each year. The strategy is based on providing a type of bed net shown to reduce disease transmission rates up to 90%.
Every $10 donation provides a net and prevention education. Contact at www.nothingbutnets.net

SEVA is a Sanskrit word for compassionate action. It gives donors an opportunity to share the honor of providing needed services in gift form.
A gift of $25 supplies materials and tools to pipe clean water to the home of an indigenous family in Guatemala. A donation of $50 sponsors cataract surgery, restoring sight to a blind person in one of eight countries. A check for $50 plants a community garden of traditional foods on a Native American reservation. For more gifts or to purchase, contact at 800-223-7382 or www.seva.org

World Vision sends direct assistance to projects benefiting oppressed or impoverished people in many countries around the world.
A gift of $25 provides job training for an at-risk woman, so she can become safe and self-supporting. A donation of $30 supplies a schoolchild in the U.S. with a backpack filled with pencils, paper and art materials. A check for $60 plants ten fruit trees for an impoverished family, providing fresh food and a source of revenue. To purchase or search for more gifts, contact at 888-511-6511 or www.worldvisiongifts.org

You might also enjoy making a donation locally. Consider what causes are dearest to the heart of your recipient and give a gift of your time or money to further that cause.

Consider a charity clearinghouse when you have no idea of the recipient's interests. A gift certificate to www.justgive.org allows your boss, your brother's girlfriend and that dear uncle whose politics you can't fathom to donate to their own causes using your funds.

Although the above charities have been checked for reliability, remember to give wisely. The best-run programs allocate three-quarters or more of their budgets directly to programs, rather than wasting resources on administration and fund-raising. They also operate on an open-book basis and consistently work toward their goals. Before donating to any cause, search the database of the American Institute of Philanthropy to find their top rated charities at www.charitywatch.org
Other review sites include www.charitynavigator.org and www.give.org

About the author

Laura Weldon lives on an organic farm and believes in bliss. Learn more about her book "Free Range Learning" by visiting at www.lauragraceweldon.com

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