Have you finished your holiday shopping? Or are you more like I am and have barely started?
I've bought a total of two gifts so far. Want to know what they are?
A goat and a fruit tree. For my children.
No, we're not moving into the farming business and I won't be mopping up after a live goat in my house or wondering how to keep a fruit tree alive until spring. I've bought these items from Plan Canada's Gifts of Hope. The real goat and fruit tree will be delivered to a family in need that will use these ethical and valuable gifts to sustain and improve life for themselves. Something my children never have to consider in their world of plenty.
Last year, Huzbo and I felt a real sense of frustration when Christmas began to approach and we wondered what to get our children as gifts. They have EVERYTHING. Not just everything they need, but almost everything that they want, as well. We felt guilty that so many families in other parts of the world have none of the things that our children take for granted in their everyday lives — food, shelter, education, clean water — our children had only a high-level awareness of how different families in developing countries live. We wanted to find a way to give our kids an understanding of these struggling families that didn't come simply from us preaching to them — we all know where those speeches end up!
In my search to find something to teach my children about the gift of giving, I found Plan Canada. Last year, we gave our children Plan Canada gift certificates from us AND from Santa. We also asked some family members to spend half of what they normally would on a gift for our kids and spend the other half on a gift certificate that our children could use to choose a gift with a purpose that they wanted to give from the extensive online catalogue of unique ethical gifts, some priced as low as $10. In doing so, each of the gift-giving trifecta was represented to our children — parents, Santa and our extended family stood united in the desire to give an important gift to two young people that already have everything.
Our children loved the experience and we loved having purposeful conversations with them to aid them in choosing items that would most benefit the developing families that the items would go to, so I jumped at the opportunity to write about this program this year.
The Plan Canada Gifts of Hope are an excellent choice for everyone on your list, but a must for those that already have everything, or, are hard to buy for. Do those children or adults really need some trinket or novelty item that they will probably forget about a few days after unwrapping it?
My children still have everything they want or need again this year. Oh sure, they THINK they want just about everything in the latest toy or electronic store flyers, but they have far too much of that stuff already. What they don't know they want yet is the joy of giving. What better way to experience the joy of giving than to give an actual tangible ethical gift of hope — not just a donation of money — that will go so far to improve somebody's life? There can't be any greater gift than that.
So, for Christmas this year, my children will have under their Christmas tree a fruit tree and a goat, to give to a family that needs these items to sustain and improve their quality of life. Goats are a precious commodity — they produce nourishing milk to drink, but they also produce offspring that can be sold as a source of income. It's a gift that keeps on giving, so to speak. Plan Canada invests my gift money directly to a goat program in a country like Uganda, where the goats are born and given directly to communities in the area, while also providing training to the recipient for raising and breeding goats. Fruit trees are the same. They bear fruit that can be eaten for necessary vitamins and minerals, or the extra fruit can be sold.
Now, I'm sure some of you more jaded holiday shoppers are thinking "Oh boy, here we go again. Always during the holidays, there are so many charities asking for donations!" Well, you're right. Sort of. These developing nations with communities and families DO need our help, and not just now, but all year. When you buy many of the ethical gifts available from Plan Canada, your gift DOES keep on giving! If you have doubts that your money actually buys a goat, have a look at this quick video:
When you buy a Gift of Hope, you can receive a free greeting card, completed with your message, and sent directly to you or your gift recipient to notify them of your special present. Last year, we wrapped them and put them under the tree and it was a heartwarming moment to watch our children read the cards from us and Santa and see their smile spread when they realized that THEY had actually given a gift, simply by opening a gift!
If you'd like a longer-lasting reminder for your recipient to have to feel good about their Gift of Hope, Plan Canada also offers a selection of merchandise that can be added to your order such as jewellery, apparel and paper items. I own the gorgeous paper necklace hand-made by African women, and I get compliments on it every time I wear it!
So what are you waiting for? You don't even have to drive to the mall, fight for a parking spot, elbow through the crowds and browse a hundred stores searching for just the right gift that will make your person-who-has-everything smile.