If you’re one of the many Americans who thinks Christmas and the holiday season has become all about commercialism and spending money on meaningless gifts, this year think about something new: giving the gift of charity.
If you want to make your giving more meaningful and touch more people, honoring loved ones with donations to charity can be a great way to go. And there’re a lot of ways to do it. Heifer International offers a variety of ways for charitable shoppers to help others in need during the holiday season. You can numerous animals and plants (like trees) to help people in need all around the world. And any charitable gift purchased comes with a card of explanation to give to the giftee.
The National Wildlife Federation also has an adopt-an-animal program, and depending on the donation size may even come with a stuffed animal or other small gift. There’s also the option of helping to prevent deforestation through the preservation organization Cuipo, which purchases small pieces of land for its “One Meter at a Time Foundation” project. New Orleans’s Audobon Nature Institute also offers the chance to adopt animals and support the institute in general for anywhere from $15 to $500.
If you’d rather look toward helping fellow Americans, consider taking part in the program, Adopt-A-Classroom, which allows donors to “adopt” a classroom of their choice, with 100% of proceeds going directly to those classrooms. With the devastation left by Sandy, this could be a great way to help rebuild damaged schools.
There are still many soldiers abroad serving in our country. Not all will receive loving packages from family, and you can make a difference by donating a care package to one of them. Adopt a U.S. Soldier also allows you to keep correspondence with a soldier, making the whole experience all the more powerful.
If you’d like to make the experience of adopting an animal more personal, consider the Pacific Whale Foundation’s offer to adopt a specific whale, dolphin, or turtle. Adopted turtles can even be named by the giftee, a great option for children. Some donations even come with plush animal toys.
Where will your money go this holiday season?