Gifts That Give

By Jean Redstone

A couple of Christmases ago my sister gave me an unexpected gift that was one of the nicest I’ve ever gotten. I unwrapped a small box and inside was a card telling me there had been a donation made in my name.

She picked a charity she knew would please me, and it very much did, but it also meant she had spent time thinking about what group I would be glad to support and yet wasn’t on my own radar of places I gave to.

It’s always a thoughtful gesture to fund charities at the holidays and even more so when it’s done in someone else’s name. It’s an opportunity to seek out the lesser-known charities (but do check them out with charity watch groups) and to surprise a special someone.

With that in mind, the foodie in your family may be happily honored by a gift in his or  her name to a group working to end  hunger, or a gift of tasty food that aids a charity your recipient would support.  It’s like multiplying your gift.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started. I hope that however and whenever you celebrate, there will be merry in your Christmas and happy in your holiday.

The three sites below have high ratings from Charity Watch and/or Charity Navigator.

* http://www.womensbeanproject.com/  The Women’s Bean Project, “where a woman earns her future.” — Here you can buy packaged bean soup mix, chili, other earthy mixes, jars of homemade soups, gift baskets, hand-crafted jewelry, and more, all at inexpensive prices. The money the women make is the end result of a program that helps at-risk women in America find education, skills and jobs and hope through their work with the Bean Project.

* http://www.bread.org/  This is a faith-based organization working to end world hunger. It caters to church and charity ministries with an online shop of free prayer offering cards, inexpensive music CDs, and inspirational books on helping solve the tragedy of starvation..

cooking heifer web* http://www.heifer.org/ Widely known and widely praised, Heifer International takes its mission from the “Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him a meal. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for life.” parable. Its ambitious world-wide programs help families become food-secure by providing them with animals (goats, chickens, bees, and, yes, heifers) and the training to raise them for eggs, milk, meat, etc. As the animals reproduce the family passes the young ones to other villagers, spreading the wealth and knowledge. The agency’s online site offers a large choice of ways to “buy” a family a flock of geese or a water buffalo or other natural resource (such as fruit trees) from which they can grow and eat and sell the production. Buy a family a gift in someone else’s name, and the organization will send an honor card and description of the gift to your recipient.

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The following sites are not rated, but are suggested by epicurious.com, which specializes in quality food experiences. They are on the flamboyant side, rather than the inexpensive, but they all support a variety of charities. Some will let you pick which ones your purchase percentage goes to.

cooking cookies for cancer web* http://www.cookiesforkidscancer.org/ — very prettily packaged gourmet cookies and other gifts support pediatric cancer research.

* http://compartes.com/collections/chocolate-truffles/products/chocolates-for-darfur-relief-beads — beautifully packaged gourmet chocolate assortments, including smoked salt truffles, that support hunger and restoration projects in Darfur, $30 and under for most.

* http://www.georgetowncupcake.com/ — look for “menu” on page (a bit hard to find) for very fancy cupcakes, about $18 a half dozen. Your money supports charitable organizations and fundraisers for children’s health and women’s issues.

* Baking For Good  — an online bakery with cookies and candy ranging from the unique Instagraham cookies (where you send in a picture and they make  photo cookies out of it) to seasonally decorated cookies and much more. Fifteen percent of each order goes to a charity of your choice from a listing on the site. They’ll also bake a batch of “your logo” cookies for business gift giving — a neat two-fer, charity AND customer goodwill!

* http://www.bakingforgood.com/

cooking rainbow glitter bottle web* www.onehopewine.com This site brags it “turns wine into food” and sure enough, it offers quality wines, the purchase of which helps fund numerous and diverse charities. Check out the Rainbow Glitter Brut, $50, that practically shouts “Party!” Before it’s even opened.

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