Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Aaaaarch!


I can't believe it's only ten days to Christmas already!!!!! Where did the time fly to?

I suppose we're all in the same boat right about now: rather busy with work, or end of term school stuff, and worried that the holiday list will NOT get shorter. Aaaah, the Holidays!

I've certainly been swamped with Christmas prep at work, and my mind has been completely engrossed with what is happening -or rather, NOT happening-i n Copenhagen, and I am sure so is everyone else.

So, if I may, here are a few last minute suggestions for last minute gifts for all those people you never know what to get:

Gifts that keep on giving
The likelihood of actually finding the ideal gift for someone who is hard to shop for get slimmer and slimmer with each passing day, so give up already and make a charitable donation to an organisation in this special someone's name instead. Chances are this person is hard to shop for because s/he already has a lot of things, and do you really want to add to their pile of excess? Show you care for your friend's soul and the world at large by giving a gift that keeps on giving.

Many charitable organisations will accept donations in other people's name, some will even send a thank you card to that person in your stead. Still more organisations will put gift donations towards specific programmes of your choice, so you can choose a project in the image of your friend. For example, last year I gave to UNICEF's mosquito nets project in my brother's name because he had spent two years in Africa where malaria still kills hundreds of children every year.

Here are a couple of links:
UNICEF : This branch of the United Nations focuses on children and child issues such as education and nutrition. However, they work in many more fields, such as the prevention of AIDS, the distribution of mosquito nets, as well as environmental issues that can affect a child's well being.

Oxfam : Oxfam has a really nifty programme whereby you purchase a cow, goat or chicken that will be given to a family in need, you know "teach them how to fish, and they will feed themselves..."

Excellent Development : This organisation funds projects to slow down desertification in Africa by planting trees and building dams to trap rainfall.

Bees for Development and Hunger-Free World Bangladesh both promote beekeeping as a means to financial and food independence in developing countries. They provide farmers and families with a basic starter kit for bee keeping as well as training. Bees are essential for food production, all the while providing humans with a nutritional supplement: honey. The promotion of beekeeping allows farmers an insurance plan against total crop failure and may help slow down the disappearance of the honey bee.

Kokopelli is a French organisation working to safeguard the genetic diversity of heirloom seeds. They are part of the vast network of seed-savers around the world working to protect our food future from genetic desertification. They also have an active branch trying to supply safe (that is GMO-free) seeds to impoverished farmers free of charge. While they accept donations of seeds, they also need cash to help fund their projects in Third World countries. It's the perfect gift for anyone on your list who is a fervent advocate of small farms and local food production.

Seeds Savers Exchange
is another link in the seed saving chain. If you have a gardener friend on your list, why not get them a membership to this worthy organisation? SSE membership gives access to an international network of seed savers and a whole stash of heirloom seeds. It also gives gardeners an opportunity to distribute one's extra seeds to other willing recipients.

Still not inspired? How about donating locally? The ongoing recession is taking its toll on soup kitchens and food distribution networks across the country, while demand for food baskets are on the rise. Perhaps you can spread the word amongst your friends: instead of gifts to each other, why not give to others more needy?

Feel like you need to give an actual gift? Stay tuned for easy homemade and local gifts in my next post!

The true spirit of the holidays is not about giving gifts, it's about spreading the love!

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