Alternative giving is catching on. With frustration over the increasing commercialization of the holidays, the public is looking for alternatives to “shop-to-you-drop” consumerism in an attempt to get back to the true spirit of giving. So I’m continuing my annual round up of alternative giving that I started last year. Whether you tire of buying gifts you can’t afford; you prefer to make a socially-conscious statement; or you wish to donate to those truly in need, I’m sure you’ll find a worthy cause to contribute to below.
- Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) provides emergency medical care to millions of people caught in crises in more than 60 countries around the world. They have also been on the forefront of assisting with the Ebola crisis in Africa.
- Heifer International provides livestock and training to people in developing communities so that they can feed themselves. They have a special gift-giving brochure to help gift-givers with ideas during the holiday season.
- Women for Women International provides women survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency.
- Outreach International has an online catalog of sustainable gifts in a variety of categories and price points to satisfy the fashion-conscious as well as the socially-conscious. The organization’s mission is to provide sustainable solutions to help end extreme poverty around the world.
In addition to the international agencies mentioned above, there are also a number of local causes worth giving to – either for yourself or on behalf of others as a gift:
- Central Union Mission provides food, clothing and shelter to the homeless in the DC area.
- The House of Ruth helps women, children and families in greatest need with an emphasis on ending homelessness and chronic abuse.
- Food and Friends provides meals, groceries and nutrition counseling to people living with life-challenging illnesses such as HIV/AIDS and cancer. They also have pies you can purchase for the holidays; the proceeds go to advancing their mission.
- By acquiring food and distributing it through its network of partner agencies , the Capital Area Food Bank feeds those who suffer from hunger in the Washington metro through its network of partner agencies; and educating, empowering and enlightening the community about the issues of hunger and nutrition.
This list is not exhaustive. If you are so-inclined to give gifts with a purpose, there are plenty of causes to donate to — on behalf of loved ones, or in lieu of buying gifts for someone that she really doesn’t need. If you’re participating in alternative giving during the holidays, I’d love to hear from you. Please share what you’re doing below.
Today means different things to different people. For many, it is a reminder of Native American hospitality that was repaid with genocide. Ironically, it is also Native American Heritage Month. For others (I’d dare say most), it’s the day that precedes Black Friday and the advent of the commercialism we have grown to associate with the Christmas holidays.
During this time I usually go into myself, becoming introspective. I reflect on what I have and what I have to be thankful for. [Yeah, I do this every day, but I tend to do more of it on this day]. Last year, I wrote my list of thanks. When I reviewed it, I found that it was pretty much the same. Here goes:
I am thankful that:
- I woke up this morning and have another day to realize my potential
- I am of sound mind
- I am in relatively good health
- I have a roof over my head and a safe and warm environment in which to dwell
- Unlike my mother, who lost hers when she was just two years old, I got a chance to know mine before she passed to the spirit world
- I can hear and appreciate music
- In spite of slavery, oppression, discrimination, and obstacles at every turn, my ancestors survived and made it possible for me to be here
- Though the population of Native peoples in North America has been greatly diminished, they also survived and their presence is a constant reminder of their greatness
- I can share this with you.
Regardless of how you choose to utilize this day, have a good and peaceful one.
What does today mean to you? How are you celebrating? What are you thankful for? If you made a list, is it different than last year’s? Comment and let me know.
As we enter the season of buying and giving, you have the choice to shop at big box stores or to support small businesses and local shops. Here is why buying local and supporting small businesses matters:
- Small businesses have always been and continue to be the the backbone of our economy. Supporting small businesses supports us all.
- Schumacher had it right: Small is Beautiful. And people (that’s you and me) should be at the center of economics.
- Shopping local helps reduce our carbon footprint which is a smart consumer choice and is better for the environment.
For my part, I’m participating in Shop Local Week 2013, a partnership between Think Local First DC and Causetown to promote independently owned, community businesses as the preferred option for holiday shoppers. During the week, businesses like mine will feature a number of promotions, notably the Charity Cash Mob, where we will give a portion of purchases to any school or charity customers choose when they mention Shop Local Week.
RAM Jewelry Designs is Participating in Shop Small Saturday
RAM Jewelry Designs contributes to charity via Causetown
|What are you doing to buy local and shop small this holiday season? Please comment below and let me know.