opportunity international
By Stephanie Oswald

"World peace and an end to global poverty" might sound like the starry-eyed goals of a beauty pageant contestant, but there are old and new organizations that let you contribute to those causes while making someone in your life happy, too. And what better time to help improve conditions in the world than the holiday season?

Giving gifts that give back is a great way to do good in the world and "vote with your wallet." An added perk of non-material gifts is that you can show loved ones how much you care without adding more stuff to their homes.

Rather than yet another tie, vase or electronic gadget, you can pay tribute to someone's favorite park, plant a carbon-reducing tree in someone's name or finance a budding (but impoverished) entrepreneur on the other side of the planet.

Even one of the most well-known philanthropic organizations, Heifer International, has added a new program: Heifer at Hanukkah, providing gift options that encourage the Jewish principles of tzedakah (charity) and tikkun olam (world repair).

If you are someone who prioritizes humanitarian action, keep this guide handy for anyone asking what you would like to receive for the holidays. If it's important for you to give a wrapped present, you can always print out a card from the organization's website - but the power behind these gifts extends far beyond that. Helping others and knowing you're making a difference is truly sending joy to the world.

Journalist Stephanie Oswald is a television host, travel and lifestyle expert and the editor-in-chief of Travelgirl.

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Cindy Nawilis

Thanks for this great gift guide! I'd like to suggest one more to add to the list: give solar light to the 1.3 billion people in this world who still lack access to electricity. It makes such a difference for their health and economic wellbeing when compared to kerosene lamps, which are the most used lighting substitute for those without electricity. SunFunder is currently running a holiday campaign where every loan made on their website toward solar projects in developing countries will be matched for double impact! Perfect way to give back and dedicate that loan to a loved one. Check it out at www.SunFunder.com.

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