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Alternative gift giving: share the joy while doing good


November 29, 2012

Last year I gave my sister a goat for Christmas. The thing is that she doesn’t’ live in Wayne County; she lives in Baltimore, and she certainly can’t have a goat there. So it actually wasn’t for her. The goat went to a family in Kenya. However, it was a gift given in her name through Heifer International, and she received an email and a card with my warm wishes, a picture of a goat and a description of the program that helps to feed families and make them self-sufficient. (Heifer gives families at least a breeding pair and some training so they can start their own herd.) My sister loved it. She told all her friends and talked about it for months—as in, “I wonder what my goat’s doing now?”

Well, goats aren’t for everyone, but there are plenty of wonderful and unique gift options for almost everyone on your list. Some of these gifts may do some good in the world, and all of them really show that you put some thought into it and really care. Perhaps someone on your list would appreciate it if you adopt a polar bear or a giant panda for them through an organization like World Wildlife Fund. Others may like a goat like my sister got, or chickens, bees, llamas or many other animals through Heifer International. If these don’t appeal to the folks on your list, you can give a gift to the person’s favorite charity or any cause they’re concerned about. Almost every organization allows you to make a gift in someone’s name and then they send a card to the person telling them about the gift.

Homemade and handmade gifts by you are always nice. Baked goods are an old standby that are sure to please, and if people look forward to yours every year, then by all means keep doing it, but many people are overwhelmed by the temptations and calories during the holidays and may appreciate something they can use later in the year like barbeque sauce, flavored vinegar or even pickles (with a red bow on top, of course). Even non-edibles like bath salts or lip balm are fun and easy to make. Or you might want to consider purchasing a CSA share from a local farm. With a CSA, which stands for community supported agriculture, the farmer will then have produce available weekly for your loved one to pick up throughout the coming year’s growing season.