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I have finally mastered the art of finding perfect gifts for people on my list – gifts that rise above crass commercialism and are genuinely appreciated by the people who receive them. I whole-heartedly recommend such gift-giving to you.
For example, I gave a goat to my mother, Lillie, for her birthday, even naming the animal after her. Although she was raised on a farm, Momma is now in her nineties and really doesn’t want to tend to a goat – but she loved getting it. That’s because the beloved critter wasn’t delivered to her, but to an impoverished family in Nepal that desperately needs the nutritional, economic, and life-affirming benefits that can flow from something as basic as a goat.
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Her gift – which indeed will keep giving – was made possible by Heifer International, a terrific charitable organization based in Little Rock that copes with global poverty one animal at a time. Heifer publishes a gift catalogue that lets you and me make a donation and choose to send anything from a flock a baby chicks (for $20) to a water buffalo (for $250). Heifer International then places the animals with families around the world who put these living donations to work, lifting them from abject poverty. Not only does Heifer connect us to specific needs, but it also has teachers and development experts on staff who work directly with the recipients to… well, to make the gifts work.
There are dozens of good groups that offer such “gifts that matter.” For example, my Christmas gift to Momma came from the catalogue of The Nature Conservancy. She is now the symbolic “owner” of two acres in Appalachia that are part of the group’s conservation efforts.
For her – and for me – this kind of giving is a lot more satisfying (and a lot truer to the spirit of giving) than buying another “thing” that she doesn’t need. For information about these groups and more – go to www.charitynavigator.org.
“Gifts That Say You Care,” www.nytimes.com, December 3, 2011.