A great way to get a sense of just how much we humans care about each other is to look at the number of useful charitable organizations throughout the world now and the remarkable work they’re doing. If you really want to do some power shopping this holiday season, here are some gift ideas with real power.
You may already have your list of favorite organizations, but as you buy your holiday gifts or consider what charity you want to support, check our List of Likes in the December/January 2012 issue. We offer a few ideas for gifts, a portion of the purchase of which will go to assist a charity, as well as a brief list of some organizations whose work seems especially consistent with the values of The Herb Companion.
For the past several years, I have given bees to friends and family. While, on the surface, that might not sound like the nicest of gifts, to the families from Uganda to El Salvador who have received bees from Heifer International the busy buzzers can be very good news. Bees occupy a special place in my heart, so I chose them as my gift and let Heifer handle the actual work of delivering bees to families a world away. The recipients will use the bees to create income from the sale of honey, beeswax and pollen.
Strategically placed beehives can as much as double some fruit and vegetable yields and boost the health and livelihoods of an entire village. And if bees aren't near and dear to your heart, Heifer offers a wide selection of other meaningful that have profound value for impoverished or disenfranchised people —rabbits, goats, flocks of poultry and yes, even, heifers—that matter to them in ways we might never fully appreciate.
Though much of what we love in nature appeals to us on a macro scale—the aroma of peppermint, the loveliness of lavender—we chose The Nature Conservancy as one of our favorite charities precisely because it is at the other end of the spectrum. One of the nation's oldest conservation/environmental-protection organizations, the Conservancy works at a very large scale, protecting millions of acres of land and thousands of miles of river all round the globe, through pragmatic, science-based, non-confrontational means. Instead of giving the children in your life toys they might not appreciate or food they don't necessarily need, consider giving them the gift of a healthy planet and access to pristine, healthy wild places in the future.
The Nature Conservancy's link on green giving provides a pledge you can sign to join others in promising to give in sustainable ways this season, and also gives some ideas on what that might look like.
Another of the country's oldest grassroots environmental organizations gets our nod is the Sierra Club, which has been in the business of preserving the environment and taking a stand for nature since 1892. Founded by John Muir, father of the conservation movement, the Sierra Club's mission to "explore, enjoy and protect the wild places of the earth; to practice and promote the responsible use of the earth's ecosystem and resources," and to educate others to do the same strikes us as a vision worth supporting.
With each purchase of Choice Organic Teas you help support the Jane Goodall Institute and Ms. Goodall’s Roots & Shoots program, a global organization designed to empower young people in relation to the environment, the human community and animals. Or you can just go to those websites and click the “donate now” button and give directly. I met Ms. Goodall a few years ago and I honestly don’t know of anyone I’ve met personally who has moved, inspired and impressed me more.
Another site we mention is The Hunger Site, where each purchase provides a percentage donated to address hunger throughout the world. They have a good selection of inexpensive and unusual gifts and the charities they support, Mercy Corps, Feeding America (previously America’s Second Harvest) and Millennium Promise, have a track record of effectively addressing hunger and its causes throughout the world.
From the “swords into plowshares” paradigm come these charming garden markers from peaceBOMB, which purchases scrap metal and the bits of bombs that litter Laos and employ local artisans to turn these materials of war into useful items such as bracelets and spoons. This is a delicious idea, the efforts of which support the clearing farmland in Laos.
This handful of suggestions might give you some new ideas, and you might also give us some ideas as well. Please comment here or find us on Facebook and tell us your favorite way to give gifts that give back.