Two years ago, instead of giving Christmas gifts, my husband and I decided to donate the money we would have spent on gifts to a particular charity. Then, to our friends and family, we just gave Christmas cards explaining what we did and what the group we chose did.
But thinking about it a month later, we thought that that really wasn't fair—if we were going to donate to charity, we shouldn't have to deprive our loved ones of gifts—or ourselves of the joy of giving presents. We wanted both! So we compromised: we started looking around for items that directly benefited poor communities. And so last Christmas, our friends got gifts and we also helped others.
Wherever you may be, I'm sure you'll be able to find these kinds of gifts—gifts that your family and friends will enjoy, gifts that provide education, homes, livelihood to our less fortunate brothers and sisters. And the nice thing is, most of the items are not just for Christmas so we can help all year round!
Pathways to Higher Education is a global initiative of the Ford Foundation to provide higher education opportunities to indigent students. Their approach is different in each member country because of cultural differences. The Philippines office offers this "Grains of Hope" gift pack this year—a bag of organic brown rice in a Christmas-themed cloth bag.