Burned out from Black Friday? Sick of Cyber Monday? Hard to believe but just in the last few days consumers spent nearly $11 billion on electronics, clothing and other items in preparation for the holidays. Now, I love shopping just as much as the next girl but wouldn't it be great to funnel some of your hard earned cash towards a gift that will keep on giving? A few years back, my family and I started a tradition of making charitable donations to our favorite causes in lieu of gifts. We are not alone. Many families are now looking for ways to celebrate the true meaning and spirit of Christmas by doing for others.
Over the next few weeks leading up to Christmas, I am going to highlight a few causes that are near and dear to my heart. I am particularly passionate about anti-poverty, fair housing and global maternal/child health initiatives so many of my donations support these causes.
First up on my list is the fabulous charity Heifer International. Heifer's mission is a simple one: to end hunger and poverty and care for the earth. They do this by creating sustainable strategies to help impoverished families develop an income stream while caring for the environment. Here's what's cool. As a donor, you can "purchase" a cow, a flock of geese, a goat, chicks, or a bee keeping starter kit among other gifts which which will be given to a family who will receive training and support to improve their livelihood. Heifer even produces a nifty gift catalogue which you can browse and then select your gift to honor a loved one. And lest you think your donation needs to be large to make a difference, think again. A gift of a flock of chicks is just $20.00 and will not only provide one family with nutritious egg protein but a steady income stream. According to Heifer, a good hen can lay up to 200 eggs per year - great for feeding a family and provide plenty to sell.
Heifer International operates around the world from Eastern Europe to the Carribbean and in countries such as Haiti, Uganda, and Tanzania. What I love about this organization is that their philosophy is focused on sustainability -- creating enduring sources of income to lift families out of poverty all while caring for our fragile eco-system in a socially responsible manner. This is truly a gift that will make a difference.
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