Student Life

Christmas gifts that give back to the community

by Michelle Huang

It happens every single holiday season; each year, as you’re shopping for gifts, there’s always that one person whom you have no idea what to get. Instead of dropping twenty bucks on a Christmas movie that ends up sitting untouched on the shelf, invest that money in something that could potentially change a life. By supporting a charity in your loved one’s name, you will both be spared the embarrassment of an awkward gift and they will feel honored to contribute to a good cause. There are potentially plenty of different options, but the following are a couple good starting points.

Heifer International. For the price of the cheapest Kindle (~$120), you could buy a goat, sheep, pig, or much more through Heifer International’s popular Gift Catalog. For twenty dollars, you could get an entire flock of geese, chicken, or ducks. The animals are given to a family in need. The products (wool, milk, eggs, etc.) of an animal are often enough to break the vicious cycle of poverty for an entire family. Heifer International also provides complimentary holiday cards to let your loved one know about the donation that was made in their name.

The Red Cross. In the aftermath of Hurricane Yolanda, thousands of people in the Philippines will be without shelter or food on Christmas Day. People abroad tend to assume that the problem has been taken care of, but in reality, the survivors are still struggling. You can donate any amount you wish to the Red Cross, which will accomplish much more than a quickly forgotten gag gift.

Kiva. Kiva provides a unique opportunity to know exactly where your donations are going. Rather than being solely donations, you instead lend money to “borrowers” who pay you back in time. You’re able to browse through the profiles of borrowers, which includes a short blurb describing what the person hopes to do with their loan. After the borrower pays you back, you can choose a different person to whom you can lend that sum. In this way, an amount as low as twenty-five dollars can touch multiple lives indefinitely. This year, your gift could create someone an account on Kiva and include a starting amount that they can loan to someone in need.


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