Wrapping presents is kinda meditativeóespecially when the Christmas tree lights are glowing and Christmas carols are playing. Besides giving presents to my loved ones, Iím starting a new tradition for myself this year: Every holiday season Iím going to give my time or money to a cause that I really care about. When I was volunteering in Kenya last year with a program called Village Volunteers, I met a three-year old named Ester who lived at clinic/orphanage I used to visit. She followed me around every time I was there, so Iíd pick her up and carry her where ever I went. Iíve thought about her almost every day since, and am finally able to sponsor a year of her schooling and health care.
The reason the girls and I chose Village Volunteers is because most of the money from our volunteer fees went directly to the communities we were working with. The cool thing is that you donít need to hop a flight to Africa or drop a lot of cash to lend a hand: By donating $25 on Village Volunteersí site, you can buy five library books for a school, or 25 fruit-bearing trees to give a family extra food and income.
Not to get up on a soapbox or anything, but if youíve got $25 to spare and want to make a difference, another organization I like is Kiva. Hereís how it works: You lend someone in need $25 to help get their business off the ground so they can support their families; you receive email journal updates from them on their progress; and they repay you in about six to twelve months. Hey, youíve got nothing to lose!