Holiday Giving: Help Those in Need

11_20_08_gift.jpgEarlier this month, we offered a few suggestions on how to gear up for holiday shopping in an eco-friendly way, without breaking the bank. One reader reminded us that just because of the tough economy, we shouldn't overlook those less fortunate. We completely agree! So here are a few ways to help those in need--with an eco-twist. Donate organic and all-natural food products to your local food bank. Just because the food isn't coming to your house doesn't mean you should let your organic tendencies slip. There are plenty of organic and all-natural canned food options, from tuna to beans, and soup to peanut butter. Think of what healthy items you'll be sending to a home that normally wouldn't have that option.

If you can find a program that will accept one, donate an all-local food basket to a family who could use it. Think local meats, cheeses, fruits, and veggies--but be sure that if it's perishable, the family will be able to keep it fresh so they can enjoy every bit of it.

Give the gift of livestock or water. Each year, we get a catalog for giving goats, chickens, sheep, or even a well to a community in a developing nation. You can give as a holiday gift for the community, or donate in a friend's name. This is a great way to help out across the globe, and still keep your carbon footprint minimal.

Volunteer in your community. As winter kicks in, there are more and more opportunities to get involved with your local community. Many local farms donate to food pantries and soup kitchens--find one in your area and help the cause.

Buy eco-friendly gifts for children in need. Each year, our city sponsors a program called Angel Tree, through the Salvation Army, that collects new toys for children who would otherwise not receive any gifts this holiday. Your city likely has a similar program, so donate things that you'd bring into your own home: maybe they're hand-made locally (like a doll knit from organic cotton), or crafted from reclaimed wood, or PVC-free.

In any case, there are many things you can do to help those in your community this holiday season, and do it with a twist that'll continue helping our earth. Please share your ideas with us!

Photo by nosheep via sxc.hu.

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