Charitable gifts to organizations like Heifer International are popular this time of year. These organizations use funds to give people in developing countries a gift of livestock of some sort such as goats and cows. However, these organizations have come under fire from vegetarian groups for a number of reasons. Articles such as Free From Harm’s 10 Reasons To Say NO To Animal Gifting Hunger Relief Organizations have had many animal lovers looking for good alternatives.
Luckily, there are wonderful groups that give gifts to support needy families with animal-friendly gifts instead. These include groups that help plant community gardens, finance green initiatives, provide healthy food, plant fruit and forest trees, give books to children and more. Here are some of the best.
A Well-Fed World provides plant-based nutrition, education, farm animal rescue, and food sharing. Their Plants-4-Hunger gifts include providing community food gardens in the USA, especially in “food deserts” where it is often hard to otherwise find fresh produce, a vegan school lunch program in Ethiopia and other programs designed to help feed people and teach healthy self-sufficiency.
Trees for Life provides fruit trees, books, education, clean water, and fuel-efficient stoves around the world. You can give a gift of fruit and forest trees such as apple trees at a cost of $1 per tree planted, starting at $10 to plant ten trees. Each person who learns to grow and care for their own trees pledges to share seeds with two others and help them to grow their own trees, in order to multiply the gift.
Books for Life, an educational branch of Trees for Life, provides high-quality, illustrated, native-language story books and other educational resources to inspire the imagination of children. Local communities provide a safe place to house the books, promoting literacy while serving as cultural centers for people to gather and celebrate, share and connect. Trees for Life also provides other gifts such as cook stoves to improve the health and lives of people. Another program, Teach for Life, is a forum for teachers to improve their skills by sharing knowledge with each other—especially with those who serve the poor. Teachers who need training can learn in their own language, at their own pace, absolutely free of cost.
Plenty provides plant-based nutrition, healthcare, education, self-sufficiency, and disaster relief. This non-profit organization was founded in 1974 “to help protect and share the world’s abundance and knowledge for the benefit of all.” Plenty supports economic self-sufficiency, cultural integrity and environmental responsibility in partnership with community groups and organizations in Central America, the United States, the Caribbean and Africa.
SALEM provides education, shelter, environmental protection, nutrition information, and vegetarian meals. This Christian non-profit organization was founded in 1957. They say all of the SALEM projects “are affiliated through the shared values of peace, helping those in need and respect for life.” Their values are listed as:
- respect for every living being
- love of people, animals, plants and Creation
- non-violent, respectful and peaceful treatment of our fellow humans
- promotion of a non-denominational Christian, holistic way of life
- a healthy, vegetarian, whole food diet
Kiva provides micro-loans for people to start small businesses and get themselves out of poverty. Kiva connects millions of people around the world through lending to make the world a better place. Loans are funded to help borrowers start and grow businesses, send their kids to school, switch to clean energy, and more — all with a nearly 99% repayment rate.
You can give gifts of Kiva Cards to allow recipients to choose who to give a loan to. Kiva says:
When you give a Kiva Card, you give someone else the chance to make a loan to a borrower who inspires them. When that loan is repaid, they can lend those funds again and again to make an even bigger difference. It’s truly the gift that keeps on giving!
These are all wonderful organizations that can help you do good with your gift-giving dollars — to people, animals and the planet.
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