I like what the Seva Foundation is doing with their gifts of service. You make a donation to provide a poor family in South America with clean water in their home, or to get eye surgery for a blind person in Tibet to see again, or one of many other options. Then Seva provides a gift card that you can give to your recipient. Now granted, you could always donate to any charity in honor of somebody else, so it seems that all Seva is really adding here is the card. But it's the decision to frame the donations this way that is so brilliant, and it brings philanthropy into an entirely different realm of spending, putting it (hopefully) more in view of some people who might ordinarily spend much more on a batch of Christmas gifts than on donations to charities. Any amount of money that can be diverted from ravenous December purchasing to creating serious quality of life improvements in less fortunate communities is money well repurposed in my book.
So I'm just going to put this out there as an option for anyone who hasn't yet spent all of their Christmas budget. I realize there are still lots of very useful, meaningful, traditional gifts to give to your friends and family, and I also realize that it's just plain old fun to do that sometimes. But consider adding in some gifts of service, from Seva or from any other organization that's significant to you. Maybe for the person who has everything and is impossible to shop for. Maybe for someone who's made an important difference in your life, to show them you're passing on the positive influences in the world. Whatever the case, you know it's a gift that will be put to good use.
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