Dec 152011

Over the past few years, Americans have had (the increasingly fashionable) option to give charitable Christmas gifts: instead of buying presents for a friend or a family member, you can give a donation in that loved one’s name or honor to an organization serving people in need. Whether it’s a sign of late capitalism, a backlash against materialism, or a cop-out for the self-righteous, giving someone the gift of helping a person or people neither of you may know is a good thing every time, and especially during the season of sharing.

This holiday season, I invite you to join me in giving a third-party gift with Write Around Portland and Kiva.

Give the Gift of Creative Expression

Write Around Portland teaches creative writing through “high-quality, skillfully facilitated writing workshops in safe, accessible and respectful environments”; holds community readings to “promote the exchange of stories”; and publishes anthologies, some of which I’ve perused, to connect writers and readers.

I recognize the effect that creative expression through writing can have (American Robotnik is one such expression). This will be the first year I will be supporting Write Around Portland with a donation. Write Around Portland gives you an option to give the donation as you would a gift subscription: you fill out a card with the name(s) of someone you wish to honor with your donation, and Write Around Portland will send them a card with a poem written by a workshop participant.

Visit Write Around Portland’s donation page to make your contribution. (Because of the expense to Write Around Portland associated with mailing the cards, consider adding a bit extra to your gift.)

Give the Gift of Livelihood

Kiva probably needs little introduction on account of their worldwide brand recognition. With Kiva, you make a loan to microfinance organizations who provide micro loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries. The loans get repaid at no interest, and you can put your money to fund another microentrepreneur. Kiva also accepts donations to fund their good works.

As of this writing, the closest to Central Europe  you can get with your loan is Ukraine; Armenia and Georgia are also listed under Eastern Europe. Kiva also lists organizations in Moldova and Bosnia-Herzegovina as field partners.

I recognize both the effect a small amount of money can have on someone’s livelihood and the impact of seeing their money have that effect on the person giving the loan. With as little as $25, you can purchase a Kiva Card. The recipient then uses the money to fund a Kiva loan. Again, this will be the first year I’ll be using the Kiva Card for my Christmas giving.

Happy life changing!

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