Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Alternative Gift Giving

Desperate for a gift, maybe this Cow Necklace fits the bill.
There may be someone on your Christmas Giving list that is just plain hard to shop for. Don't despair, there are alternative gift choices for that person that seems to have everything or no longer wants anything!

or how about a nice Wide Tie ?
The other side of the coin is to sit down and think about what you are really trying to convey this holiday season. Gift giving is an expression of love, thoughtfulness, and kindness. I always try to purchase something meaningful, but often, out of despair buy something that I fear has little interest. A Soap on a Rope that will go unused hanging in a shower as a show piece for 25 years, only to acquire a nice coating of dust and dirt, seems a waste of a thoughtful gift moment!

Mom giving me a sack of Corn Meal for Xmas.
Why don't we instead select a local charity and make a gift in honor or in memory. Holidays are often tough for those that have lost someone during the holiday season. Sadly my Grandmother passed on Christmas Day and it was her favorite holiday. An "in memory" donation might be the best gift you could make.

My sweet Daisy Doodle, found at the shelter.
Because of my long involvement in Animal Rescue, I tend to donate to agencies that benefit animals. Think about the person you are giving to and if they or the person you are memorializing liked animals. I can't think of a nicer thing to do than to make a donation in honor of a friend and their beloved pet(s).

Local private animal rescue agencies have to spend countless hours begging (and I mean begging) for funding. It's often thought that local SPCA's receive funding from the national ASPCA, Humane Society of the US, or Federal or State funding. They do not. The only situation where a local SPCA receives county funding is when it operates the state mandated Animal Shelter. This is a rarity in Virginia but is actually the case in Charlottesville but funds only cover the collection and housing of animals, they do not cover spay neuter, vaccines, or other humane outreach. Many local humane societies struggle to keep the doors open and giving to them is a direct benefit to your community.

Saved by Animal Control with HOWS involvement.
I seek out agencies that work "in the trenches" or are located in low income areas as they tend to need extra support. Last year Voices for Animals in Charlottesville merged with Houses of Wood and Straw (HOWS) and both groups do amazing work for our local animals. If you have ever been involved in animal rescue, some of the saddest cases are animals left outside 24 x 7. Both of these groups help animals, that in my opinion, are the most needy in our community.

Now you get it ?
This year I received notice that the Humane Society that I worked for 5 years ago was CLOSING. Donations had trickled to a near stop. The group had worked so hard to help the animals that fundraising took a backseat. County shelter euthanasia rates had dropped to historic lows but so did donations. Fortunately, animal lovers heard the cry and donations flooded in. Grants were also written to help fund spay neuter programs. The Pulaski County Humane Society operates in a part of Virginia that has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the state. The last thing this community needs is to have an "in the trenches" group close.

Many privately run animal groups are teetering between opening and closing. This is not an uncommon case since they are rarely supported by local tax revenue like other charitable agencies. Think of how much work could be directed to helping the animals if a regular check came in the mail to support their programs!

Two more of my babies saved by the Humane Society.
I have talked about a non-profit sector that I personally know well but there are many agencies that do good deeds in your own community that can benefit from your charitable gift this time of the year. A meaningful gift is the best gift!


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