Friday, December 18, 2009

My Christmas List

If you are overwhelmed with material... blessings... as my family is, (and if you watch Hoarders or Neat or Clean House you know those blessings can actually be quite a curse if they are weighing down your life) then consider a charitable donation this holiday season. You can be like a couple I was told about recently. For their wedding, the second for both of them, they asked for guests to make donations to their favorite charity in lieu of gifts. Or you can be like my dear friend's Girl Scout troop. Her girls decided to buy toys for Toys for Tots instead of getting each other gifts for their holiday party. Warms my heart to think about it.

You could also consider making an investment that will do good for others. DH and I donated a small sum of money to Kiva a while back. Kiva makes micro-loans to entrepreneurs in third world countries enabling them to start or expand small businesses. Sometimes a bunch of neighbors will get together and form a community group that takes out the loan as one, then holds regular repayment meetings where they network and strengthen each other. The repayment rate is tremendously high. Once a loan is repaid you can take the money back out or reinvest, which is what we chose to do. Kiva also needs flat out donations to keep going as an organization, but they don't ask for much. You can read more about Kiva and how the loans are working in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, including benefiting the children in the communities where loans are being made. Turns out the entrepreneurs are often a civic minded bunch and start educational programs for the local kids.

Another favorite charitable cause is getting toys to kids for the holidays. The Eldest and I worked for the Salvation Army Angel Tree, but Toys for Tots is also a good organization. There are also other organizations that help children the world over and all year round. I've been donating to Child Fund International since I was in college.

Can't afford to donate money? Well, there are a lot of groups out there that could use your time. When I went to training to work the Angel Tree, for instance, they said they needed help not only at the trees but after all the toys are collected in their distribution center. They need drivers to pick up the toys from the trees, too, although the trees are all done for the year. (But there's always next year!) I'm sure there are many, many organizations in every community who need a helping hand over the holidays.

So what do I really want for Christmas? For everyone to help someone else in whatever way they can, peace on earth, and goodwill to all.

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