Helping St. Louis

A Blog About Helping Each Other

Holiday Gift Ideas

Posted by Schevus on November 25, 2008

I’m sure gift ideas are on everyone’s mind as Christmas draws inexorably closer. If you are interested in a gift that will have a real impact, consider these ideas.

Kiva Gift Certificate:

For those of you who don’t know, Kiva is a wonderful online micro-lending organization. Individuals loan money in increments of $25 to entrepreneurs in developing parts of the world to help them expand their businesses. This allows them to better provide for their families and increases the local economy, improving their country from the ground up. These loans are disbursed through local partners at much lower interest rates than traditional loans, which are often prohibitive for extremely poor entrepreneurs. Surprisingly, Kiva has amazingly low rates of default and delinquency.

Kiva has a partnership with PayPal, so 100% of your loan goes to the entrepreneur. As the loan is repaid, you are free to re-loan the money you get back, or reclaim it. I have personally made 5 Kiva loans, and my earliest was just recently paid back in full! It’s rare to find a way to help financially that isn’t just a donation.

Heifer International Gift:

Heifer International (HI) is a unique effort to end global hunger. Through HI people pay to donate livestock and other developmental aids, such as trees and honeybees, to developing communities. The unique thing about Heifer International is that the recipients agree to share the offspring of donated animals with others who are in need. This is a very literal example of paying it forward.

You can pay for a gift (or part of a gift) through HI and make the donation in someone’s name. HI provides several options of gift cards when making a donation, whether it be an e-card or a physical card. I have not yet had the opportunity to donate through HI, but I have been eying a flock of chicks (only $20) for a couple of months now, so I’m sure it won’t be much longer.

Mosquito Net:

With a donation of only $10 you can donate a mosquito net, pesticide, and instruction on how to use it through Nothing But Nets. Nothing But Nets is a partnership with the UN Foundation. A mosquito net is the proven best method to prevent Malaria. Malaria is transmitted when a carrier mosquito bites an infected individual and then bites a non-infected individual, giving them the disease. It is one of the biggest health epidemics in Africa and parts of South America and Asia. A bed net works in two ways. It physically stops the disease carrying mosquito from biting a healthy individual. Also, the nets are soaked with a pesticide, which kills the mosquito when it lands on the net.

Due to the unique transmission of Malaria, many lives can be saved with one bed net. First there are the 2 or 3 people who may sleep under the net. How many more might be saved from the disease that might be carried from those 2 or 3 people should they be infected?

If you purchase a net through Nothing But Nets, you can designate your gift in honor of someone, and send an e-card to them letting them know of your gift.

These are just a few examples of excellent gifts you could give that would make a tremendous difference in someone’s life. Do you have any other good suggestions?

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