Whether you’re looking for an original hostess gift, a pressie for the hard to buy for, or are teaching your kids about the spirit of the season, these gifts will make everyone glow.
PLAN’s Gifts of Hope
PLAN International is a registered charity that operates in 48 developing countries, working with more than 3.5 million children and their communities each year to alleviate child poverty. PLAN Canada and PLAN USA each offer Gifts of Hope as a unique alternative to another sweater or bottle of wine or socks. $250 stocks an entire classroom with its essentials; while $12 plants a mango tree in a schoolyard. My favourite Gift of Hope for new mums is the birth certificate ($25). 48 million children are not registered at birth. PLAN is working to register all births because it’s this piece of paper that acts as legal armour- proof of existence- granting access to citizenry rights like education and health care.
With the purchase of your gift of hope PLAN gives you the option of sending e-cards or paper cards to those you’re honouring, along with a description of the gift you’ve given.
Foster an Elephant
Looking for a big gift? Hard to find bigger than an elephant. These gentle giants have great minds, show a range of emotion including empathy and grief, and live in close knit loving families. They’re also hunted for their ivory and are on the endangered species list. This has left many a baby elephant orphaned. Happily the David Sheldrick Elephant Conservation in Kenya exists to rescue these big little guys, nurse them to full health and give them space to grow and recover. It’s hard to get more original than giving the gift of baby elephant fostering. For about $50 a photo, fostering certificate, and regular updates will brighten the inbox of that person on your list who has everything. (Hint, next year give them the rhino.)
In 2002 Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto started the amazing Bravery Bead initiative in the haematology/oncology unit. Young patients battling cancer were given a special bead for every visit, procedure, and milestone they met in their fight against cancer. As a volunteer at the hospital at the time, I saw firsthand the significance these bravery beads held for these kids – to have a tangible representation of their lives, their illness, their courage became an essential and celebratory aspect of the experience. The necklaces created become marks of pride; they also help kids gain control and understanding of the complex medical world they find themselves in. The program has since been implemented in children’s hospitals across North America. Bravery Hearts created a commemorative necklace with proceeds supporting Sick Kids and other Bravery Bead initiatives in hospitals across Canada and the US. A beautiful gift, certainly one with heart:
Fair Trade Wool
Knitting is an increasingly popular craft and the range of yarns available – the colours! the materials! – boggle the mind. Many knitting boutiques stock free trade yarns produced by artisans in developing countries. What better way to show care than to knit up a cozy gift for a friend or loved one. Purchase free trade or eco yarns for some added joy and warmth in the world.
Good Cards from Charity Navigator/ CanadaHelps.org
Charity Navigator in the US and Canada Helps in Canada each allow you to give virtual gift cards to registered charities in each respective country who use this online donation service. Let your friends browse hundreds of worthwhile causes and choose how best to focus dollars and energy in their own backyards.
One for One is the motto at Toms Shoes (click here for Canadian shoppers). For every pair they sell, they donate one to a child in need in the developing world. So before you ask yourself if you could walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, consider walking a mile without any. Toms shoes.
For those of you Toronto-based, Eat My Words has the market cornered on the perfect gift. Gourmet cupcakes that are divine to eat and look at with proceeds going to the Stephen Lewis Foundation! What more could you ask for in a gift. Oh, they come exquisitely packed in a beautiful hat box with a hand-tied satin ribbon. So there’s that too.
Wishing everyone a little breather in the holiday chaos!