Happy, Healthy, and Plenty to Eat—the Best Gift of All
Okay, So Maybe Some of Us Could Always Use More Treats
Little donations made in the name of friends and family can add up to a whole lot of help. In case you don't already have a favorite needy charity, I thought I'd share some of mine (besides our always struggling and overcrowded local animal shelter, of course, where we rescued Topaz, Sarah Kate, and Mr. Midnight last year). All of these worthy causes are dedicated to helping provide good food and lives for people and animals. Most of them offer gift ideas with some sort of 'interactive' opportunity.
Menu for Hope 6
The annual Menu for Hope fundraising raffle is going on now through December 31st. During the past five years, food bloggers from around the world have raised nearly $250,000 to help feed people around the world. This year all monies will go to the United Nations World Programme's Purchase for Progress program, which assists low-income farmers to raise crops and support their local economies.
For every $10 donated, you earn a virtual raffle ticket for any one of the dozens of fabulous food related prizes (seriously, they just keep getting more and more amazing). One year I bought a ticket for a gluten-free goodie basket from Shauna for a gluten-free friend, and she won!
Dorothy's Café at the Blue House of Hospitality
Kelli Martin Brew lives with her family in a house of hospitality in Gainesville, Florida, where, says Kelli, "Our particular mission is to get healthy, delicious food to folks who most need it. We usually bake around 36 loaves of bread a week for guests who come to our 'free café,' and for day laborers with whom we share breakfast each Friday at several local labor pools."
Kelli's whole wheat 'bread for the people,' as she calls is, is made from locally purchased organic ingredients and costs about $2.50 a loaf to produce. Why not creatively break bread with others for the holidays? Bake up a batch of Kelli's Pain aux Raisins Secs et Noisettes ou Pacanes recipe (Bread with Golden Raisins and Hazelnuts or Pecans) which she shared with us over at A Year in Bread, and give a homemade loaf to friends and loved ones, along with a note explaining how you also made a four loaf/$10 donation (or eight loaf/$20 donation) in their name to the Blue House of the Gainesville Catholic Worker. You can read more about their projects here and find support information here.
A Place to Bark. . . and Meow
Bernie Berlin is one of the most hardworking, kind hearted people on the planet. Each year she singlehandedly saves hundreds of homeless dogs and cats from being put to death through her non-profit rescue project, A Place to Bark and Meow—and also somehow finds the time to blog about it.
Bernie is desperately trying to finish building a new shelter for the dozens of animals always in her care, and now through December 31st, all tax-deductible donations will be matched by the Zoline Foundation. Donation information is here.
Kitchen Gardeners International
Kitchen Gardeners International is a 501c3 nonprofit organization founded in Maine, USA whose mission is to empower individuals, families, and communities to achieve greater levels of food self-reliance through the promotion of kitchen gardening, home cooking, and sustainable local food systems. Their network of friends and supporters now includes over 19,000 kitchen gardeners from 100 countries, with new ones signing up each week (it's free to join, so go sign up!). KGI led the successful campaign for an organic White House Kitchen Garden—which now has a 'First Hoophouse' to extend the growing season!
KGI coordinates International Kitchen Garden Day, publishes a free e-mail newsletter, offers all sorts of online educational resources, and has a partnership program to help small, community-based groups start or scale up kitchen garden projects. There's also a kitchen gardeners' forum where you can connect with kitchen gardeners around the world. Donation information is here.
The Wild Animal Sanctuary
Established in 1980, The Wild Animal Sanctuary is a 320-acre state and federally licensed zoological facility and 501c3 nonprofit organization located 30 miles northeast of Denver, Colorado. It's home to more than 200 rescured carnivores—who eat a lot. The Wild Animal Sanctuary's mission is to rescue and provide life-long homes for large exotic and endangered captive wild animals, and to educate the public about the causes of, and solutions to America's captive wildlife crisis.
There are all sorts of ways you can help The Wild Animal Sanctuary, including by adopting an animal (what a neat gift!) or shopping for unique gifts at their online store. If you're in the Denver area, you can even visit the sanctuary and see the animals.
Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty. This person-to-person micro-lending website provides microloans to unique entrepreneurs around the world. You decide who gets your loan money (I love supporting other sheep farmers), and you can reloan it over and over each time it's paid back. Learn more about what kiva is here and how their lending program works here. Printed and emailed kiva gift certificates are even available.
Back in October, I was invited to attend the Farm Aid 2009 concert in St. Louis and do some live blogging for the FarmAid website. What an inspiring experience! (And of course the music was amazing.) Farm Aid is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to keep family farmers on their land.
Over the past 24 years, Farm Aid has raised nearly $36 million dollars to support programs that help farmers thrive, create and strengthen connections between farmers and eaters, take action to change the dominant system of industrial agriculture, and promote food from family farms.
Farm Aid’s mission is to build a vibrant, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America. Farm Aid artists and board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews host an annual concert to raise funds to support Farm Aid’s work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose family-farmed food, but donations are accepted throughout the year.
A Farm Aid membership makes a great gift, with or without some cool Farm Aid gear (a holiday sale with free shipping is going on now). Members can even watch this year's concert, along with past shows from Farm Aid's history. You can also take action here, learn more about the Farm Aid community here, connect to the land and each other at Homegrown.org, or follow Farm Aid on Twitter here. Or simply go text FARMER to 90999 on your cell phone to give $5 to Farm Aid and help keep family farmers on their land.
A great big thanks to all of you who have so generously given to these and other causes I've written about over the years. Wishing you a joyful, fulfilling, and delicious holiday season!