Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Make Your Holiday Gifts Count

Sure, you could give everybody on your gift list a pair of gloves, a scarf or a box of chocolates they don't need and might not even like. Or, you could make your gift really count and give a donation to an international charity in the name of your friend, relative or boss.

Here are some suggestions for giving green to legitimate charities which help the poor and the sick around the world --

Doctors Without Borders -- There's an urgent need for funds to help in Zimbabwe, which is suffering a killing outbreak of cholera. This group's doctors and nurses have treated more than 11,000 victims since August. Thousands have died, including entire families.

Heifer International -- As little as $20 will buy a flock of baby chicks, ducklings or geese that can lay eggs to feed a family, grow up and breed more chickens, ducks or geese that can be sold to support the family -- and the eggs those animals produce start expand the cycle to the next family. Heifer International has programs in South America and Asia.

Red Cross -- No explanation needed.

Taj Hotel, Mumbai, India -- The terrorist attack in November killed more than 100 people and injured hundreds more, at the historic Taj Hotel and other locations in the city that used to be called Bombay. The owners of the Taj -- which suffered millions of dollars in damage -- have started a Trust Fund for victims. There is no website for donations -- email tpswtrust@tajhotels.com for instructions on how to donate.

Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Foundation -- You can search the database for free, and find the name of your grandparent or great-grandparent, and the name of the boat he or she arrived on to the United States. Or, donate something to help keep those records free, by adding a name to the Wall of Honor -- buy your relative's name to be inscribed on that wall.
Any of these gifts are more valuable than another pair of gloves, don't you think?

And if you wonder about how good a charity is, check Charity Navigator, which rates charities based on how much of your donation goes to the people or service -- and how much the fund-raiser keeps. You will be surprised. Even shocked.