Written by Michael Fones
Monday, 07 December 2009 11:52
What do you purchase for the person who has everything this Christmas?
How about nothing! Or, more accurately, how about buying something for someone who has next to nothing? There are plenty of people to choose from around the world, and there are lots of organizations that are trying to help the poor and needy in developing nations, as well as in our own.
You might help with providing water for those with no reliable source of potable water through Engineers Without Borders.
Or, perhaps you might be interested in providing a poor entrepreneur with a microloan through World Vision
Heifer International has provided families and villages in developing nations with animals - and the knowledge of how to care for them - for a long time.
If you want a more personal way of helping someone, you might consider sponsoring a needy child or aging adult in a developing nation through the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging. This is an excellent Catholic organization that is known for very low overhead. They provide education, healthcare, food, and occasional gifts for the folks who are sponsored. I have sponsored two children in the Philippines over the last fifteen years. The second child has just entered a two-year associate's program, and I couldn't be happier for her.
There are a host of agencies and causes out there that provide meaningful alternatives to useless gifts - especially those "guilt gifts" we sometimes purchase.
All you need do is send a donation to a cause, and in lieu of a gift, you can offer your friend or family member a card with information about the program you're sponsoring in their name. I've done this in the past and will do it again this year. And I hope people do this in my name, rather than giving me a gift. I have everything I could possibly use, and am trying to simplify my life.
If your friends think you're incredibly cheap, like George Costanza of Seinfeld fame who once gave his co-workers a certificate saying he'd donated to the "the Human Fund" in their name, you might include the web address of the organization you're supporting.
And, by the way, The Human Fund exists now. The Human Fund effectively supports arts education programs for the under-served youth of the city of Cleveland, providing a commitment to funding several arts programs annually. So you could even support that organization!
If you know of other worthy organizations that people might support, please let us know - and include their web address and maybe a brief description of what they do.