It is almost impossible to escape the nearly overwhelming wave of commercialism and materialism coming at us from every media angle. And yes, the Green Divas even did our part to contribute with our 3-part eco-friendly gift guide series (videos, podcasts, blog posts). We rationalized it because we are recommending that people, buy less, make more and keep it local whenever possible, and then we proceeded to share some ideas for good, sustainably made gift ideas that at least promote a healthier/greener lifestyle and are more sustainably manufactured. But still, I admit it. We got sucked in, too.
My family and I have scaled back our holiday material pursuits dramatically, but we still exchange some very thoughtful gifts, some handmade, some not. We have grown to value our time together as the real prize. Every year, one of my daughters is my elf and helps me pick our holiday gifts to make. We set up our workshop on the dining room table in the kitchen and make my husband nuts as we spread all over the house sometimes. I love getting creative with my girls, and this time of creating together is one of the greatest gifts of the season for me. My baby Mary, who is now about to turn 21 in a couple of weeks, is this year’s chief elf. That is to say, they are not babies any more, so these holiday craft sessions are entirely different than they were when they were much younger. It is magnificent to watch them do their own crafts now, too. Soon, it will be time to do these things with my grandkids.
But every year, I also try to do something for those in our community that are struggling in one way or another. And as much as I love seeing people’s faces light up when they receive a great gift, there is nothing like the feeling I get when I know I have done something to help bring a little joy and hope to someone’s day — someone who really needs it. I’ve tried to involve my kids in these activities as well, and am hoping this is a gift to them that will blossom as they grow into the world.
It really started when we had a few very lean years, where it wasn’t so easy to contribute to local charities, which ended up being the best years, because we decided if we couldn’t give money, we would give our time and energy.
So, don’t think you have to write a check in order to give to a charity, because there are many local charities that would be thrilled to have your help in other ways. Look up your local food pantry or see if any local churches or organizations are doing coat drives; maybe you have a car and can help do deliveries of some kind, or go to the senior living facility and sing carols. Make the call. Find some way to share whatever you have with those who have less and you will find a heart bursting with gratitude and love, and I’m talking about YOUR heart, too! Yes, you may help others, but that feeling of gratitude will be a selfishly awesome gift to yourself that will ripple out to all those around you. Viral joy. No known cure. Oh well. Might as well just go with it…
Green Divas (& Dude)
Spirit of Giving
I assigned our Green Divas crew with the task of writing a brief description of how they give to their communities or charities during this holiday season and to pick their top 3 favorite charities or ways of giving to recommend to our readers and listeners. Here’s what we do…
I’ve written a lot about my thoughts above, but this year, my husband and I and probably at least one of my daughters will be helping at the local food pantry’s saturday lunch, and I will be participating in a visit to one of our local senior homes to bring some holiday spirit. My top three spirit of giving ideas are:
Heifer International – who doesn’t love to give cows, goats and chickens
11th Hour Rescue – They saved my Gracie and many thousands of animals every year
Local Food Pantry – 1 out of 6 Americans is experiencing food insecurity. Find a local food pantry, and volunteer by visiting FeedingAmerica.org.
GD Mizar talked about this on our latest podcast, so she didn’t do any write-up for us. Here are two of her favorite charities:
The Lake Drive Foundation for Children Who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing – This is a great local charity that serves all of northern New Jersey
Habitat for Humanity – Of course, GD Mizar likes our local Restore best!
Listen to this week’s Green Divas podcast to hear us talk about the spirit of giving and much more.
Green Diva Gina
This is one of America’s oldest organizations and was founded by a retired
Boston sea Captain, Thomas Valentine Sullivan, as a safe “home away from
home” for sailors and merchants. Inspired by the stories of the Y in
England, he led the formation of the first U.S. YMCA at the Old South
Church in Boston on December 29, 1851.
I chose to get my gym membership at the YMCA in Summit to support an organization so keen on community involvement. I would rather have my gym
membership money go to a non-profit organization than a main-stream business.
This organization’s goal is to reinvent hunger relief through leadership and innovation. I really like this because of their creativity to feed people. They are a member of Feeding America, a national network of more than 200 food banks serving every state in the United States.
Check out these initiatives:
Harvest to Home’s goal is to collect unsold or un-harvested fruits and vegetables from farmers and deliver it to the tables of neighbors in need.
Their Food Rescue program sees that fresh surplus goes directly from area retailers to the shelves of our agency partners, eliminating hundreds of tons of waste in the process.
And their The Pallet of the Month Club asks for one relatively small donation from 30 retailers per month. If successful, the program will generate nearly half a million pounds of first-run food every year.
“Bond Street Theatre uses theatre-based approaches to conflict resolution, education, and empowerment in areas of conflict and poverty, through programs for adults and youth, training for teachers, and creative collaboration with local artists and community organizations. The company works directly with disadvantaged communities to inspire and uplift them through the transformative world of theatre.
In addition, Bond Street Theatre creates innovative theatre work that addresses social and environmental issues, and performs in theatres and
major festivals around the world. The company draws on the musical and gestural arts of many traditions and the performance styles from many
cultures in creating its original theatre productions.
I really like this organization because of how many nations and people they have empowered. My close friend worked here and was blown away by the
opportunities this group creates for disadvantaged communities.
I chose these organizations for personal reasons. My Family donates to the ASPCA every month. My wife and I try to make a trip during the holidays to donate food and blankets to the local shelter. Adopt-A-Pet is where we rescued our Dog, Gizmo, who was abandoned and found on the highway, but now is a happy part of our family. When I was in college, I volunteered for Clean Ocean Action. They have done great work along the shoreline over the years.
Christmas Shopping Graphic via Shutterstock
Looking for even more donation pathways? Here are some inspiring Care2 partners whose causes you may want to join, just in time for the holidays:
1. Defenders of Wildlife — You can choose to adopt a wide range of animals through Defenders of Wildlife, including snowy owls, bald eagles, humming birds and monk seals. Animal adoptions include personalized adoption certificates, colorful animal fact sheets, wildlife activities book, and a stuffed plush animal.
2. Women for Women International — Female survivors of war can’t recover without education, farming resources and job training. Women for Women International uses your donation to provide these priceless tools.
3. Humane Society Canada & Humane Society UK – From farm animals, to struggling wildlife, to lab animals enduring cruel testing — Humane Society Canada covers them all. Consider donating to help animals from all arenas.
4. ChildFund Australia – Help children reach their full potential. A school uniform, gardening tools or a lantern may seem like miscellaneous objects. To children with few resources, they are the mere basics of a bright future.
5. Compassion in World Farming – Sick and abused farm animals want to be on your holiday shopping list. Some sheep can’t move in their cages and are stacked on each other during transport, spreading disease and emotional trauma. Your donation will combat needless animal suffering.
6. Make-A-Wish® Foundation — A child with a life-threatening illness can see his or her dreams come true. Donors — along with volunteers and dedicated staff — are the reason these children’s wishes come to life.
7. Plan Canada — Social justice for children in developing countries: Who can argue with that? Help uplift suffering communities by supporting the children who need it most.
8. Oxfam Australia — Give communities the tools to create their own solutions to poverty. This is how we break the cycle so future generations have access to jobs, education and social justice.
9. War on Want – Stand with the Palestinian people in their quest for basic rights. Ethnic cleansing in Palestine is robbing people of their homes and safety. Supporting War on Want’s vision means fueling global justice, and providing aid to those losing their livelihoods to political turmoil.
10. Ecojustice – Toxic pesticides and chemicals have no place in thriving communities. Contribute to environmental protections that safeguard the air, water and outdoor spaces neighborhoods’ depend on.