Christmas Shopping In a Sharing Economy
Christmas shopping feels different these last few years. I no longer yearn for bigger and better and more and more. For starters all the electronic gadgets have lost their allure in the face of what’s happening in the world. I am not turned on by flat screen TV’s and I am not feeling one iota of techno-lust around the subject of cars. I’m not into giving or getting any more “ stuff.” I’m certainly not into charging a small fortune on my credit cards. I am feeling, in these troubled times , like getting back to basics. Love thy neighbor, do unto others and all that…..the old fashioned spirit of Christmas that feeds the soul rather than the ego.
A New Kind of Giving
This year I'm into giving gifts that make a difference in the world.The world is full of worthy causes that fund-raise during the Christmas season with special “gifts”. You donate in someone’s name and a special announcement of your gift is sent to recipients telling them how you helped in their name. There are also numerous handicrafts and foods sold online to benefit the needy but proud. Even your Christmas cards can benefit somebody.
There are causes to suit every pocketbook and political persuasion. Whatever your interest, you can give a gift that really makes a difference and you can do it all with the flick of a credit card and the click of a mouse. As an added bonus you won’t have to wrap anything and you’ll avoid all those holiday crowds at the mall, plus it will give you an extra special good feeling to know that you are giving a gift that really changes lives.
This is where I’m shopping this Christmas and maybe you’d like to join me. If so here’s a list of my faves. I’ve provided a mini review of each organization plus a direct link to their websites.
Gifts For Animal Lovers
Adopt a Polar Bear through the World Wildlife Fund. There are several levels of adoption from $25 to $250. Each donation helps WWF help Polar Bears in their efforts to survive their warming habitat. $25 donation includes an official framed adoption certificate and polar bear photo. If polar bears are not your thing, choose from 99 other endangered species. Great educational gift for kids and fun for adults too.
Adopt a Farm Animal from Farm Sanctuary, an organization dedicated to humane treatment of farm animals and against corporate factory farming. Check their website for some pretty awful photos of animal abuse.. They rescue farm animals who are being mistreated and lobby against animal cruelty. This one will please the vegetarians on your list.
The Humane Domain web store operated by the Humane Society of the United States offers a wide selection of gifts for pets and people. Proceeds go to programs that protect pets, wildlife and animals used for research.
The Animal Rescue Site will provide 14 bowls of food to an animal in a shelter for every colorful Christmas Tree pin you buy from its website.
Gifts that Help Families Survive
Seva Foundation. works with local partners and hospitals in 20 countries around the world to provide sight preserving and restoring services to under-served populations. Through Seva’s culturally sensitive programs, millions of people who would have otherwise lost their vision, are living full and productive lives. You can help in many different ways, but one of the most satisfying is by making a gift in the name of a loved one or friend. Whether you make a cash donation or buy gift cards and tee shirts, your gift will honor a friend and help bring the gift of sight to one who needs it.
World Vision offers you the opportunity to give a gift and change a life. Choose from over 100 gifts online from a share of a dairy cow to a village water pump. Donate in the name of whomever you choose and send a card announcing your gift to the honoree.
Gifts for Women from Women
The Women's Craft Cooperative sells beautiful jewelry made from recycled items by the women of Rosie’s Place, a sanctuary for poor and homeless women. Purchases, either online or in selected retail outlets directly benefit the women artisans. This is a gift you can really feel good about giving.
Women for Women International is an organization dedicated to helping women survivors of war rebuild their lives. They do important work. If you believe, as they do, that strong women build a strong future for the world, you can help in many ways. For $30 a month you can sponsor a woman for a year in a job skills program.
Or, you can make a difference by ordering a hand crafted gift that gives back from the online catalog.
Christmas Cards and Crafts
If you still send out holiday cards via snail mail, you might as well benefit a worthy cause while doing it. Cards that Give is a comprehensive, non-profit, website that lists more than 100 American organizations that use greeting cards as part of their fundraising strategy. Everything from HIV/AIDS to Historic Preservation is represented so you are sure to find a cause that suits. Why give the money to Hallmark when you can benefit your favorite charity?
If you are someone who can knit or crochet you can play Santa all year round by donating your talents to a wide variety of organizations all over the world. Check out Charity Crafts for some ideas of something extra you might do for Christmas. Bev’s Country Cottage offers a similar listing of charitable opportunities for crafters.
A Final Note
This Christmas shopping season I’m making different shopping choices because the world is a very different place than it was last year. Looks like there may be some tough times ahead. But tough times bring out the best as well as the worst in people so let’s all get it together this Christmas and think a bit about one another rather than another X-box.
Charitable giving is my way of lighting a little candle in the darkness. I hope you’ll want to join me. If any of you have other suggestions for charitable gift websites, please tell me about them in the comments section and I’ll add them . Merry Christmas and Happy Christmas Shopping.