Thursday, December 9, 2010

Gift giving that makes a difference

“What do you want for Christmas or better yet, what do you want for your birthday? (I am a December baby)”. People have already begun asking. I get uncomfortable being asked that question for a multitude of reasons. One reason is that I have a “room” in my home which qualifies me for an intervention and/or an episode on “Hoarding”; secondly, I have “stuff” that I don’t use; lastly, with everything that is going on in the world (Haiti, Indonesia, etc.), do I really need/deserve another “something”?

This is something that I struggle with every year. We get to that stage in our lives where we don’t need or want for much. (No Bob this doesn’t let you off the hook – I still am expecting the slippers from Peavey Mart). We certainly don’t need anything to add to our special “room” (I know I am not the only one that has one). What do we do? How can family and friends give a gift that makes them feel good about giving it, the recipient feel good about receiving it and benefits someone in need?

If you are struggling to get that perfect gift for someone who you know has pretty much everything….it might be time to consider the following ideas: – Love this website! Many, many charities have registered themselves making it super easy to find one towards which you (or your recipient) would like to donate. You get a tax receipt, and then CanadaHelps disburses the funds to the designated charity. The kicker is that you can set up a “Giving Page” for yourself (a mini website) where you can specify the charities about which you are passionate. You can share this URL with your family and friends and, they can donate directly to your charity. You can even track how much money has been given to your favourite charity. The “giving page” is used for weddings, anniversaries, graduations, birthdays, memorials and holidays (Christmas). What a great idea! If you are a local charity and have not registered yourself, you might want to look into it. I personally searched for a couple of local charities that I would like to support, and couldn’t find them. I will be placing a phone call and giving them the head’s up about this great site.

Oxfam Canada – Oxfam has a unique holiday gift site called “Oxfam Unwrapped”. For only $22 you can purchase the gift of ‘Safe Water’, the money being used to purchase water filters, tap stands and plastic water tanks. In Haiti, as we speak, many are suffering and dying from Cholera – a disease transmitted through contaminated water and food.

Oxfam has many other gifts to give including a flock of chickens, goats, sheep, mosquito nets, etc. Check out

Unicef Canada – Unicef has responded to the cholera outbreak in Haiti and is accepting donations to provide them with much needed help. You can go to to learn more. In addition to supporting those in Haiti, Unicef has a Gifts of Magic campaign where you can choose from a variety of gifts at various price points.

WWF – Canada has a unique symbolic wildlife adoption program as well as other great gift ideas. While you are on the site check out the Polar Bear Tracker which is following three polar bear families (a great, interactive site for the whole family)

Think local – Think about your own community and those organizations that need your support. You need look no further than the Salvation Army supporting many, many families all year long.

Remember, support can take many forms – financial support, donating time and energy, volunteering as a board member, etc. I have read that Altruism (an unselfish concern for the welfare of others) can even be good for your health! Some say that it releases endorphins, helps your brain, strengthens the immune system and even gives you a “Helper’s High” (

Whatever you decide to do this holiday season, remember that before you give online, make sure it is a safe and secure site and that you are confident that it is a reputable organization. Nothing takes the place of good old common sense – if your spidey senses are tingling, take that as a sign that perhaps you should take a pass on that particular site. You need to apply the same amount of due diligence to the sites which I have mentioned.


Cyrus Mavalwala said...

As a December baby too, I also have to agree with the site being a great one.

They make giving easy because you can find any of Canada's 85,000 registered charities on their site. Caveat - they are my client...I use the site personally as well.

Happy Holidays!

Judy said...

Thanks for the comment Cyrus. Happy Holidays!