Are you looking for a relatively inexpensive yet highly meaningful gift for your kids this Christmas? If so, here are two great ideas that will allow you to give your kids the “gift of giving”. Both of these gift ideas can serve as amazing conversation starters about worldwide needs, and will be truly meaningful to both your child and the recipient. I can personally recommend both of these organizations based on my own experience.
My husband and I love World Vision! About half of our family’s charitable giving goes to this non-profit Christian organization, one of the largest in the United States.
World Vision offers an excellent gift catalog with many options under $25 that kids will find interesting. For example, for $16 your child can purchase a rabbit for an impoverished family (which will become about 50 rabbits in a year!). $18 will buy bed nets to protect a family from malaria for four years. $22 will buy a backpack and school supplies for a child.
There are two great ways to use the Gift Catalog with your kids this Christmas.
1. World Vision doesn’t offer a gift card that you can buy and then let your kids choose the gift, but you can effectively do this by creating a homemade “gift certificate”. You can then go to the site with your kids after Christmas and allow them to choose which gift to purchase. It’s a great conversation starter to look through the options together and talk about the many different types of struggles people have.
2. Alternatively, you can use this as an opportunity for your kids to pick a meaningful Christmas gift for others – grandma would love a rabbit given in her honor! When you directly purchase the gift on someone’s behalf, World Vision sends you a special card to give the recipient, explaining what the gift is.
Kiva is an organization that works with financing institutions around the world to provide small loans to people without access to traditional banking systems. On their website, you can search for people needing loans by gender, business type and/or country. With the search results, you can see pictures, read about the person’s family and learn about their business.
I find the Kiva concept, website and learning opportunity to be amazing. As a starting point, I made two small loans of $25 each this year. For example, one was to Jaon from Uganda, who needed a loan of $400 to buy more cosmetics to sell her customers. She is 34 and single, with four children to raise. There are 15 total people who contributed to her loan. You can see her specific profile here: http://www.kiva.org/lend/321274
Once money is repaid on your loan, you can choose to withdraw it from your online account or lend it to someone new! Kiva has a repayment rate of almost 99%.
Kiva offers a “Kiva Card” for $25 that is perfect for older kids who can understand the basic concept of business. You purchase the card and then your child can go on the site and choose whom to lend to. Browsing the hundreds of personal stories and learning about the vastly different ways people support themselves in impoverished areas is an incredibly impactful experience. (Even if you don’t buy a Kiva card, this would be a very worthwhile activity with your older kids!). This is truly the gift that keeps on giving – once the loan is repaid, your child can then choose to lend to someone new and repeat the cycle indefinitely. If they are old enough, you can encourage them to add their own money to their Kiva account and manage a “portfolio” of loans.
Both of these gift ideas are great for sparking your child’s interest in giving and in the diversity of worldwide needs!