I'm sure all of you are giving books for the holidays, right? If you'd like to branch out a little and give something else, I'd like to suggest two worthy causes that make excellent presents for loved ones.
First is Kiva. I've written about this organization in the past, but its worth mentioning again.
Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty. Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend to unique entrepreneurs around the globe.
There are Kiva gift certificates available for as little as $25, which will allow the recipient to make a loan to that could save a life. And then they get the money back, allowing them to make another loan! It's a gift that will last much longer than a fruit basket, I assure you.
The second charity gift idea is Heifer International. Heifer International is dedicated to relieving global hunger and poverty. It provides gifts of livestock and plants, as well as education in sustainable agriculture, to financially-disadvantaged families around the world. Through them, you can buy any number of different kinds of animals in your loved ones' name. The animals will be given to the poor all over the world, starting for as little as $20 for a flock of geese, ducks or chicks. Each family that receives a gift from Heifer International agrees to pass on a female offspring to someone else in need - allowing your initial gift to grow and do more good. Again, isn't that a much better gift than a scented candle?
I hope this has given you some ideas for great holiday gifts. If you know of any other charities that make excellent gifts, please feel free to suggest them in the comments.