There is a growing and excellent trend moving through our society: honoring our friends and family with special gifts for their birthday and on holidays. While there are still times when people need a new iPod, TV, or other gizmo, a lot of people already have a lot of things, and enjoy going out themselves and buying the particular model they want.
And while there are no shortages of sweet things and entertaining things we can buy for people we love, there is also no shortage of people in our world who really need our help, be it clothes, food, shelter, medicine or a micro-loan to start up a business.
One of the first organizations to realize how great we feel when we help others is World Vision. Their catalog includes the things that poor and starving third-world people really need, including goats, ducks, medicine and mosquito nets. And while we and our friends are unlikely to want a goat for ourselves (they're a bit noisy and tend to eat clothing while riding the elevator) I guarantee two things:
1) There are definitely people in the world who would love to own a goat, so that they can have milk for their family.
2) When you give your friend a print-out about a family that is thrilled to have that goat (and maybe suggest that goat might be named after them) they are going to laugh and appreciate what a cool and generous thing the two of you have done for our world — turning our good fortune and celebration into something important that we can share.
And since giving a goat to someone is a good idea, organizations like World Vision have already figured out who needs the goats. You don't have to wander around, asking people if they'd like a goat or a chicken — you just pay for the animal or medicine or shelter, and let them figure out how to get it to the right person.
You can find all sorts of alternative gift ideas
by searching the web for:
Here are just a few of the many ways to give
When it's time to honor a friend or family member this year, honor them with a gift you'll both remember and be proud of.