Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Season of Giving to Others

As you may have inferred from this previous post, we try, at least a little, to avoid the commercialization of Christmas.  This is not a wholly successful effort; we sometimes fall prey to the allure of an iPad, or the charm of a PBK retro red kitchen set.  And this year, I admit, I am really tempted to buy my girls the Barbie Power Wheels Jeep (someone! please! dissuade me!).  But one rule we do follow: the adults do not exchange gifts.  The truth is that none of us needs another sweater, tie, necklace, or knick-knack; exchanging such impersonal things seems trivial, and yet, we're not creative or talented enough to come up with more thoughtful gift options.

So, instead, we select some charitable causes and spend our money and time on those.  In the past, we've happily donated to Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids, Heifer International, American Red Cross,  Doctors without Borders, Greater New Orleans Foundation, Austin Children's Shelter, SafePlace, and Partnerships for Children.  This year, through our church, my husband and I chose two families in need of assistance; we look forward to helping and gifting them.  In addition, in honor of our parents, grandparents, and children, we are donating to these worthy causes:

Food for the Poor is the largest international relief and development charity based in the United States, feeding 2 million people every day.  They provide food, housing, health care, clean water projects, emergency relief, and micro-lending to the poor in the Caribbean and Latin America.  Because of their effective local partnerships and use of economies of scale, donations to Food for the Poor go a long way.

Jeevas Nivas is a home in Pondicherry, India, for HIV positive children who are also AIDS orphans. The International Foundation for Hope supports the home and ensures that the children have proper nutrition, medical care, clothing, and education.  This program is run by Austinites, and we admire their work.

Chrissy's Classroom is located in Shiprock, New Mexico, and serves Navajo students who struggle with poverty and illiteracy.  Their reading teacher, Chrissy Costello, is collecting book donations to help motivate and inspire her students.  You can read more about her classroom, and access her Amazon wish list, here.

Any Baby Can improves the lives of children in Central Texas by strengthening them and their families through education, therapy, and family support services.  They serve more than 6000 children annually.
Capital Area Food Bank of Texas provides food and groceries, nutrition education, and social services to 300,000 clients each year.
Coats for Kids is an annual community project in Austin that collects and distributes warm winter coats and children in need.  Last year, over 35,000 coats were distributed.

I use Charity Navigator to help guide my donations.  How are you giving to others this season?


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