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Cut the “Stuff” – Giving Gifts That Mean Something More

Cut the “Stuff” – Giving Gifts That Mean Something More


“The simple act of buying a goat has a remarkable impact on families and communities around the world. I’ll use the Save the Children gift catalog this holiday season and I encourage my family, friends and you to do the same.” -Drew Carey

Growing up, every year for the holidays, my family would gather together at my grandmother’s house. The kids of our family used to anticipate it for months, looking forward to piles of brightly wrapped presents every year. These days us “kids” are all in our 20s and have come to realize, after years of the plastic presents that every kid had to have (that inevitably ended up taking up space, half broken in the basement a week later) that what’s truly great about the holidays is the chance to gather together with your loved ones, eat a home cooked meal, and share stories and laughter. Not the boxes of stuff no one really needs.

My parents, aunt and uncle, of course, realized this much earlier than we did. A number of years ago, they decided there just wasn’t any more stuff they needed. Buying gifts for one another had become just another way to clutter up their lives. That’s when they discovered a unique way of giving gifts that more and more people around the country are doing every year — giving the gift of a charitable donation that makes the world a brighter place.

They’re not alone in this. Save the Children, who once again has a gift catalogue of meaningful gifts you can give your friends and loved once, sees every day how giving a charitable gift in someone’s honor can light up their holiday. As they heard from one gift giver, “My daughter just called from Montana and told me that the personalized card that you sent out to her 5-year old daughter as a memento of my Christmas donation was THE most appreciated gift she had received this year…. Everything else she got was ‘just more stuff” as her mom Jennifer put it. So I think we’ve started a Christmas tradition; hopefully, you’ll continue the little memento.”

Like Jennifer and her daughter, my family’s yearly gifts to our favorite organizations in each others’ honor is one of my favorite holiday traditions. Two years ago, my parents gave my aunt and uncle a goat. The goat and farm animals like it sent to families in developing countries help people sustainably support their families and pull themselves out of poverty. For my family, it meant a holiday where we knew our gifts had truly made the world a better place. (It also meant a lot of goat noises made over the dinner table that year, and one of the most amusing holiday dinners to date.)

This year my family will once again continue the tradition. I’m not sure what gift my parents or relatives will unwrap this December, but I’ve been pushing for something from some of my favorite organizations, like Save the Children, whose gifts can brighten the lives of some of the worlds poorest, from sending a girl to school to giving a family a sheep or goat, to providing a soccer ball for kids in need. I hope you’ll join us and start a tradition with your own family. I can promise it’s a gift that everyone in your family will truly appreciate.


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1:17PM PST on Dec 25, 2012

Interesting article, thank you and comments.

1:16PM PST on Dec 25, 2012

Interesting article, thank you and comments.

7:58AM PST on Dec 13, 2012

You can tailor the gift to the giftee. There are many excellent animal organizations, children's organizations,literacy organizations, etc.

7:54AM PST on Dec 13, 2012

I am now reading some of the comments made prior to mine. I think if you go to the Save the Children website you will see that they are "on the ground" all over the world including in Anerica. And you do not necessarily give and animal - it is a representation of what they could give for this amount. They have many other things you can "symbolically" give. This is a very old charity and very well rated by Charitycheckers.

7:35AM PST on Dec 13, 2012

I couldn't agree more. We used to give a Christmas gift to the neighborhood kids. Last year we donated farm animals to Save the Children in their names and they were thrilled. This year we got them a camel and a cow. There are also friends to whom we now donate goats and my brother and sister and spouses get the gift of starting a library. Both of them were teachers and one of the spouses, too. I was so tired of getting things for people who had everything and now I am happy and so are they.

1:01AM PST on Dec 10, 2012

Interesting article.

7:21PM PST on Dec 29, 2011

Thank you for the article!! Giving to charity is a great gift!!

6:21AM PST on Dec 27, 2011 maybe these people need gifts of fruit trees. so they don't need to do this anymore.

11:43AM PST on Dec 26, 2011

Duane, you appear to overlook the fact that giving gifts to friends and family IS helping others. It helps the recipient. If the recipient is poor and really needs the help, then it's as much charity as is giving to Save the Children. And if the recipient isn't poor it's still helping them - being given a gift by someone I love brightens my day and makes me feel that the person cared enough about me to take the time and trouble to find something I like and give it to me (and since, even though I'm not poor I'm lower income - and if it's a gift of something I can use it's a real help to me financially.)

We all spend money selfishly that could be "better" used by giving it to charity. I assume the computer you're typing on is yours and that you pay for internet access - why not sell your computer, stop your internet, and send the money instead to some worthy cause? Do you own anything that isn't absolutely necessary for survival? If so, why not sell those unnecessary things and give the money to charity (and never buy anything again that isn't a basic necessity)?

You aren't going to do that. Because you realize that life is more fun and more interesting and more comfortable when you get to go beyond just the basics. Well, when it comes to gifts, that falls under things that make us feel good and things we enjoy.

11:28AM PST on Dec 26, 2011

Despite all the distracting comments against these types of assistance to individuals around the world, they really can be life savers. In addition, I've found them to be an excellent means by which to help teach my children the importance of giving and helping others as they were growing up. Helping each other is the true purpose of life ... and you can't really live if you ignore the plight of others and pretend it isn't your responsibility.

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