Who here is NOT done with holiday gift shopping yet? There are lots of us, hmm? May I suggest a gift that doesn't require a trip to the mall or expensive last-minute shipping costs? Charitable donations are a stress-free Christmas gift, perfect for givers who hate to shop and recipients who already have everything anyway.

In this blogger's opinion, Heifer International is one of the best charities out there, worthy of consideration for any gift-giving occasion. When you donate to Heifer International, you're not just making a one-time offering. The money you send will be put toward animals (which you can choose or let the organization choose for you) that will be given to families in need. Heifer recipients go through rigorous training to learn how to care for their animals and make the most of the gift. Then, when their animals have offspring, they pass on at least one offspring along with their training to more needy families. This process makes the charity so much more successful than a program that simply donates cash or food to people in need. Heifer teaches people the skills they need and gives them the tools necessary to rise out of poverty, and in turn help others do the same.

It's called Heifer because it started with a cow, but now the organization deals in all types of animals, and even trees. (I think the ducklings make an adorable Christmas card.) If you can't afford to donate an entire animal, you can donate money toward that animal, which will be pooled together with other donations. It really is a gift that keeps on giving, and that's why I always do some of my holiday shopping in the Heifer International Gift Catalog.

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