December 2019

GIFTS ON BEHALF OF ___________________________: A guide to giving charitably in someone else’s name

Author: Michele Roldán-Shaw

There is always that someone on our gift list who is difficult to shop for. Perhaps they already have everything, or perhaps they want nothing. They may be trying to downsize, or they simply reject the culture of commercialism, materialism and unchecked avarice. In consideration of such people, we offer an alternative gift guide, one that honors the spirit of altruism, compassion and goodwill. Rather than giving directly to a loved one, we can donate or volunteer on their behalf as a show of support to their particular passions and interests.
For the animal lover

Think globally: The Wildlife Conservation Society, originally founded in 1895, “saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature.” Sustaining hundreds of field projects around the world as well as several zoological parks, with priority on key species like elephants, tigers, snow leopards, dolphins and bison, WCS protects some of the most inspiring creatures and habitats on Earth.

Act locally: No-kill shelters in our area perform a tremendously valuable service and afford us the joy of going and picking out a new pet! In honor of the animal lover on your list, consider donating to, or even volunteering for, organizations like Hilton Head Humane Association, Rogue Rescue in Bluffton, Loveable Paws Rescue in Hardeeville, or Palmetto Animal League and Jasper Animal Rescue Mission in Ridgeland.
For the foodie

Think globally: The “Food First Responders” of World Central Kitchen have made it their mission to be on the ground wherever people are going hungry due to natural or human-caused disaster. They recently dished up 250,000 meals to Dorian survivors in the Bahamas, and since 2017, they have mobilized 8 million fresh, tasty, homecooked plates to Haiti, Mozambique, the U.S.-Mexico border and even the Carolinas post-Florence.
Act locally: Sadly, it is possible to go hungry in the Lowcountry, or to not have access to decent, healthy food. Organizations like Bluffton Self-Help, the Deep Well Project, Second Helpings and Sandalwood Community Food Pantry, as well as local churches and soup kitchens are committed to giving a friendly welcome and hot plate to neighbors in need.

For the homebody
Think nationally: The tragedy of homelessness is never more heart-wrenching than during the holidays, when most of us center around the hearth with loved ones while an unfortunate few shiver alone on the street. The National Alliance to End Homelessness advocates for policies to address this crisis in the United States and works with a vast network of local partners to implement solutions at the community level. Founded in 1983, the Washington D.C.-based Alliance has become a powerful voice insisting that to end homelessness is not a dream but a plan.

Act locally: In the belief that one homeless child is too many, Family Promise of Beaufort County opened in July 2008 to serve families down on their luck. Rather than providing a temporary fix, they work to identify the root cause of each family’s situation and help them get on the road to independence. Habitat for Humanity is another worthy organization that has made an impact locally.

For the bookworm
Think globally: First Book is dedicated to closing the poverty gap by bringing high-quality books and other sorely needed educational materials to underserved communities. Donors can even join a special Book Club for $50/month to receive a package of bonus materials as thanks for their support. To date, First Book has distributed 185 million books in the U.S. and abroad.

Act locally: Founded in 1973, The Literacy Center is the only nonprofit in Beaufort County to provide adult literacy services, empowering community members through reading, writing, math, workforce skills and certification classes.

For the health nut
Think globally: Doctors Without Borders provides crucial medical aid to 70 hard-hit countries, particularly conflict zones and areas of rampant disease. Staffed mostly by volunteers and funded largely by private donors, the neutrality and “fierce independence” of this organization allow them to go where many others can’t or won’t.

Act locally: Volunteers in Medicine provides free, compassionate, quality health care to underserved people in the Lowcountry. With over 600 volunteer physicians, nurses, dentists and social workers, they treat 30,000 patients annually.

For the hero
Think globally: Puppies Behind Bars offers prison inmates the life-changing opportunity to raise service dogs for wounded war veterans and first responders. The pups live with their inmate trainers for two years, bringing love, healing and hope, and allowing them to “learn what it means to contribute to society rather than take from it.”

Act locally: The mission of Special Olympics is to give people with disabilities a chance to participate in athletic activities tailored to their needs so they can experience the joy, fitness, and friendship of sports. Our local chapter hosts an annual tennis championship on Hilton Head Island.

For the happy family
Think globally: Founded by a Midwest farmer in 1944, Heifer International operates on the irresistible concept of letting donors sponsor a cow, goat, chicken or even a water buffalo for a family in a developing nation. The focus on lasting economic empowerment, and the tradition of “paying it forward” by giving the livestock’s first female offspring to another family, makes Heifer so much more than a one-time handout.

Act locally: Hopeful Horizons is a children’s advocacy, domestic violence and rape crisis center that provides free, confidential and comprehensive services to victims of abuse and assault in the Lowcountry. There just couldn’t be any more important work.

For anyone
GiveDirectly enables donors to send cash to impoverished people around the world, then affords recipients the dignity of deciding for themselves what to do with it. In the words of GiveDirectly, “Isn’t this what you would prefer?” Since 2009, over $140 million has been distributed, which according to the organization’s research has been spent primarily on basics like medicine, livestock, school expenses, water, housing and business capital.

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