Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Creative Gifts of Tzedakah



There are so many times during the holidays and during the year when we have to buy some kind of gift for someone who "has it all"...or it's a "gift of obligation" like a hostess gift or business-associate gift...and often the gifts that we come up with are not very useful, not very exciting, or just not what the person wants.

So this year, why not give the gift of tzedakah -- the gift of charity? I know what you're thinking, who do I give to, how do I choose, and how do I make sure that the recipient isn't offended by my choice of charitable organization? Be creative about it! Just think a little bit about the person, and figure out a charitable organization that "fits" with them.

Here are some of my favorite ideas, which I'm sure will get you thinking about more...

For the guys....if he likes...
…fishing...donate in his honor to Seashare, Fish for America’s Hungry People, an organization that donates fish to the hungry

…cars…donate in his honor to The Dare to Dream Camp, a racecar-theme camp that provides enrichment, recreation, and mentoring for underprivileged, at-risk, neglected and abused children.

…ties, donate in his honor to Shop Well With You, an organization that provides people undergoing cancer treatments with resources and advice on how they can dress and feel both comfortable and attractive.

…animals, donate in his honor to Computers for Communities, which refurbishes old computers and makes them available to needy families and communities.

…music, donate in his honor to Mitzvah Clowns, who bring healing through laughter to hospitals and nursing homes.

For the ladies...if she likes...
...candy donate in her honor to A Package From Home which provides candies and treats to Israeli soldiers away from home.

...fruit donate in her honor to Table to Table, an organization that delivers 4000-5000 meals weekly in Israel. The organization gleans fruit from trees to give to those in need.
OR donate in her honor to The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, which aims to plant 18 billion fruit trees across the world to benefit our environment and humankind.

...dogs donate in her honor to Save a Pet, an organization that encourages pet adoptions.
OR donate in her honor to the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind.

...music donate in her honor to Songs of Love, an organization that writes and records original songs for children who are facing life-threatening or chronic illness.

...shoes donate in her honor to Shoes That Fit, an organization that provides shoes to children in need.

....shopping donate in her honor to Shop Well With You, an organization that provides people undergoing cancer treatments with resources and advice on how they can dress and feel both comfortable and attractive.

...reading donate in her honor to Dream Reading, an organization that provides books for libraries.

For a new parent or a new grandparent, donate in her honor to St. Joseph's Baby Corner in Seattle, which provides basic care for new moms and babies in that city, or find a similar organization in your own city.

For kids...
Kids love birthday parties. Here are two organizations that bring birthday parties to underprivileged children: Project Birthday in Sacramento and Birthday Angels in Israel. Perhaps there is one in your city? Or maybe this is something for you to start!

Help out sick kids. Many children's hospitals have wishlists on Amazon. Pick something out and send it off to some sick kids. Perhaps the hospital in your area has a wish list. Here is the list for Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.

For kids who love skateboarding, check out Land of Plenty, which strives to spread physical activity and artistic expression through skateboarding.

Do you have a young leader on your gift list? Look at Dreams for Kids, an organization that empowers young people of all abilities through leadership acitivies.

Kids are very concerned about environmentalism. Check out Kids For A Clean Environment and make a donation in honor of the kids on your list.

There are so many different organizations out there. I love thinking about matching honorees with various different organizations. It opens my eyes to the possibilities out there for helping others, as well as makes a creative and interesting gift.

Some of these organizations will send notifications directly to your recipient. Some are smaller organizations and may not. What I often do is take a picture of my kids doing an activity that is similar to the charity donated to (example: a kid holding stuffed animals for a gift to Heifer International) and make a card on Shutterfly. I'll put information about the charity on one side of the card (usually cut and paste from their website into Shutterfly) and say: "A Donation has Been Made In Your Honor to..." Then on the other side of the card I'll put the greeting "Season's Greetings" or "Happy Birthday." This is very well-received! You could also use blank cards and do this by hand.




P.S. I also like to use these ideas for Mother's and Father's Day. I'm sick of sending flowers and candy, when they really don't need them and these are just "made-up" holidays anyway. I know that my mom appreciates the card that I make with the picture of the kids much more than any gift I could give her, and I do like choosing a charity for both my mom and dad.

1 comment:

arnie draiman said...

rabbi phyllis!

yasher koach. right on. well said. and i couldn't have picked better recipient organizations myself.

please make note to tell people that when choosing a recipient organization, you must be careful with your tzedakah money, not letting it be used inefficiently or ineffectively.

the little bit of research necessary to ensure you made a wise and informed choice goes a long way...

teezkee l'mitzvot

arnie draiman
philanthropic consultant
www.draimanconsulting.com