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I am not a last minute shopper for any event, but especially this time of year. I don’t like crowds, standing in line or in gridlock traffic. I don’t like anything about Christmas shopping. When my kids were little, I had my shopping done before Dec 1st. The Internet was not the virtual shopping mall that it is today, so I actually had to go to a store or order from a catalog via mail. Once that was done, I baked until the holidays. Food is a gift of love, and people love to receive it. And you don’t have to stand in line!

Online shopping is a boon for the last minute shopper who wants to make a donation to a worthy cause in someone’s name. These organizations will send a card to the named person, but your own so it’s more personal. This is a loving way to help decent charities and honor your friends and loved ones, alive or passed on.

Source: 500px.com via Danielle on Pinterest

Green and humanitarian organizations to consider for holiday donation cheer

There are organizations doing excellent environmental and humanitarian work. Do your homework before giving anyone any money, though! I refuse to donate to The Nature Conservancy, because they take donations from BP and Monsanto! How can you conserve nature when your donors are raping the earth and influencing your decisions? Here are a few places worthy of your hard-earned money.

Oxfam International ‘is an international confederation of 17 organizations networked together in more than 90 countries, as part of a global movement for change, to build a future free from the injustice of poverty. The name “Oxfam” comes from the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief, founded in Britain in 1942. The group campaigned for food supplies to be sent through an allied naval blockade to starving women and children in enemy-occupied Greece during the Second World War.’

Green America, formerly Co-op America – I highly recommend these folks. They educate, petition, and publish newsletters about green living, investing and more. ‘Our mission is to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.’ Their website is an education in itself!

Habitat for Humanity is huge where I live, which is an impoverished county in New Mexico. Volunteers and potential homeowners chip in to build homes for low-income yet hard-working people. They operate second hand stores where building materials are donated and sold. Great organization! I’ve seen it work wonders here at home!

The Organic Consumers Association – Do you care about the quality of your food? ‘The OCA deals with crucial issues of food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children’s health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade, environmental sustainability and other key topics.’ Donations are tax-deductible.

Architecture for Humanity is a network of 50,000 professional architects and designers who volunteer their time and expertise globally to provide shelter after disasters, such as the earthquake in Haiti, Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy. This is a worthy outfit I’d love to be more involved in.

The National Resources Defense Council – ‘The Natural Resources Defense Council’s purpose is to safeguard the Earth: its people, its plants and animals and the natural systems on which all life depends.’

Local non-profits can also benefit from last minute holiday gifts.

Where to donate your time and resources this holiday season

Animal shelters are always short of staff, goods and money. I have spent quite a bit of time at ours, and the job is never done. To me, this is the most worthwhile organization to donate to. It saves lives. Literally. Some animals are put down just because there is not enough money for a necessary surgery. The vet bills at our shelter are very high right now, and we are asking for generous year-end donations to offset those costs. But it’s ongoing. There is never downtime at a shelter.

Find your local food bank. Our food bank is Taos Feeds Taos, ‘a non-profit corporation in its 25th year, will distribute food baskets to over 1000 needy Taos county families during this holiday season. This is only possible with your help.’ We donate non-perishable food every year and put money in their donation jars around town. Cash donations, accepted all year, help purchase fresh food at the time of distribution.

All of these organizations take donations throughout the year, of course, but to add a friend or family name to it makes it especially meaningful. Give of yourself, and you will receive more than you thought possible. Happy Holidays!

If you have any other ideas, please add them in the comments section. Thanks!

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Nan Fischer

Nan Fischer has been living and building green for over 35 years. Nan’s emphasis on the BuildDirect blog is about how to make your dollar stretch further, while also moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as upcoming and existing technology to help us live in an ecologically-friendly way. Nan also authors posts on the website of her seed business, sweetly seeds.