Christmas giving

It’s only December 4th, and I’m already exhausted by Christmas and all that it entails. Parties and shopping and baking; it’s all piling on like the tinsel that you still find strands of in your house in mid-March. I realized today that I’m already tired of buying shit, and I’ve only just begun Christmas shopping. I’m also overwhelmed by all the charities that need help. I want to pick them all up and squish them in a big hug that absolutely fixes everything. I hate the idea of choosing, knowing that giving my money one place means that someone elsewhere may go without. SOLUTION: Do nothing and hide under the covers until December 26th!

*peeks out from under covers* No. Of course not. A choice needs to be made. Perhaps you are on the same quandary and need assistance in choosing where you’d like to help this holiday season? The list below is by no means comprehensive, but is a good place to start.

World Vision
You can do more than sponsor children through World Vision. You can donate to help provide medicine, clothing, food, clean water, and micro loans. There is even a special category for giving to women and girls who need education, career training, and help because of sexual exploitation. Last year Mike and I each gave our parents chickens. Or, rather, we donated chickens in their honor. Just think of the possibilities! You can tell people that you gave someone a goat for Christmas!

Hill Country Hill Tribers
“Hill Country Hill Tribers works primarily with refugees from Burma, members of various Burmese hill tribes who now starting new lives in the Hill Country of Texas. Forced to leave their farms and villages, sometimes with very little warning, these artisans carried bamboo looms through the jungle to safety, dedicated to continuing the traditional art of backstrap weaving that has been passed down for generations from mother to daughter.
In Austin, these weavers are joined by other skilled artisans to make up Hill Country Hill Tribers. By crafting beautiful products in their homes and gathering together often, these artisans are weaving a community in Austin that is rooted in their past and reaching toward a new future.”

Check out the work of these women. It’s absolutely gorgeous! You can give someone, (or get yourself) a fabulous gift and help others.
You can also find some amazing things through the fair trade organization, Ten Thousand Villages.

Thistle Farms
If you have someone on your list who loves bath and body products, consider Thistle Farms. Women recovering from prostitution and trafficking make these products. All proceeds go directly back to the women who make them.

Project Night Night
This organization provides homeless children with security blankets, books, and a stuffed animal. So often, the focus is on providing solely physical and material needs. This organization takes it a step further by providing for the cognitive and emotional needs of children.

I found these while shopping for Christmas cards today at Hallmark. Purchase of these cards donates to UNICEF to provide 108 doses of Vitamin A to boost the eyesight and immune systems of children.

Finally, chocolate. I have to admit that it was really hard to walk past all of the gorgeous gems of Christmas candy at the mall today and not snag some for stockings. Our family is slowly making the switch to fair trade chocolate. And to be honest, it’s not easy. Unless someone knows where to find fair trade mini M & M look alikes with which to decorate sugar cookies? It’s not going to be perfect, but it’s worth a try. I had no idea until last year that the cacao harvested for companies like Hershey and NestlĂ© is generally done through the use of child slave labor. I know it costs more to buy fair trade, but clearly there’s a reason for that.
Where can you buy fair trade? A lot of American markets are beginning to carry fair trade chocolate bars. I usually find it in my market’s specialty organic section. But you can also find it online on a company’s website or even Amazon.

Divine Chocolate
The great thing about them, aside from being fair trade, is that they actually have baking bars, too! Christmas confection is saved! And they’re really not any more expensive than buying bars of, say, Ghiradelli baking chocolate.

Green and Black’s
Really delicious, with a lot of unique flavor combinations. I can personally recommend the milk chocolate, the mint, and the dark currant and hazelnut.

So, what’s your favorite charity?

ETA: Found M&Mish candies!