Holiday Giving and Charity

Question for the assembled.

Last year around this time I asked people to comment with their favorite local or out-of-the-way shops or businesses from which to buy Christmas gifts. We came up with a list of a lot of interesting stuff, from coffee to books to fun gifty things.

My family generally doesn’t do charity gifts. Through the years we donate to charities all over the place, everything from religious groups to scholarship funds, but we don’t usually do the “I gave something in your name” type of gift. A couple of years ago, though, I gave my dad a bunch of chicks from Heifer International, because he’s tough as hell to buy for and because we have an ongoing joke about chickens that you’d have to be a Wisconsin hockey fan to get. Lo and behold Dad became obssessed with the idea that “his” chicken was out there somewhere. Who had it? Would they eat it or use it to lay eggs? Were they taking good care of it? Could someone send him a picture of it? He started clipping articles about bird flu out of the paper and sending them to me. It was immensely amusing.

The point of revisiting that little feathered anecdote is this: Do you do charity gifts for family or friends at holiday time? Where do you send your money? Who do you like? Who particularly needs it this year?

Let’s come up with a comment thread that’s a list of good places. They don’t have to be huge; in fact I’d prefer it to be local, since my own giving tends to be to places that don’t have the money for major TV campaigns or glossy promo materials.

Speak to me, people.