SCO-liday gift guide: more than material

Dec. 17, 2009, 4:27 p.m. | By Ava Wallace | 11 years, 1 month ago

Let these alternative gift options make your - and your loved one's - holiday season more meaningful

Less than 12 hours after Thanksgiving dinner, the holiday season officially begins. It is when wreaths are hung on doors, Adam Sandler's "Chanukah Song" is played over and over again and Mariah Carey's "Merry Christmas" album cover (we know you have a copy) is dusted off. Naturally, Blazers also start anticipating that first snow day and begin dreaming of the gifts they'll open on Christmas or Hanukkah.

But too often, we forget the true meaning of the holiday season. Sure, Charlie Brown specials and Salvation Army Santa volunteers are there to encourage the spirit of giving, but it never hurts to remind loved ones. If you're great at picking out exactly which soap to get your mom from Bath & Body Works but are lost when it comes to the sentimental side of the holidays, Silver Chips Online has the perfect holiday gift guide for you.

With the help of the Alternative Gifts of Greater Washington, Inc. (AGGW), Silver Chips Online has compiled a list of great charities that Blazers can donate to this holiday season. Simply pick the charity your loved one will most care about and donate in his or her name. It is inexpensive and so much more meaningful than the latest video game - could we ask for anything more?

Photo: Three girls who benefitted from EduSeed's educational programs support the charity at the AGGW sponsored Takoma Park Alternative Gift Fair on Sat., Dec. 5.

The African Mothers Health Initiative (AMHI)
The AMHI focuses on maternal and child health issues in Malawi, which has some of the highest maternal, infant and childhood mortality rates in the world. The organization provides support for mothers and their new infants.
Donations: Acceptable donations start at $15. Your donation could be used to train parents on proper infant feeding techniques or to purchase a one-month supply of formula for an orphaned infant.
Perfect for: Your mom. Show her that you truly appreciate all the things mothers do by helping out moms in need.

Bikes for the World
Bikes for the World is a non-profit organization that collects unwanted bikes, repairs them and sends them to kids and families in developing countries.
Donations: Acceptable donations start at just $6! For your donations, the organization provides bike repair kits and funds to transport a bike overseas. You can also donate your old bikes and bike parts, as long as they are still usable or able to be repaired.
Perfect for: Your favorite sports junkie. If you've got a friend or family member who is totally into sports, he or she will appreciate this athletic-themed gift. And imagine your parents' faces when they find out that you've freed up some room in the garage and donated those old bikes to a good cause!

Las Pacayas/Parkmont School
Las Pacayas is an arts education organization based in Washington, D.C. that uses the arts to improve literacy in rural areas of Guatemala.
Donations: Acceptable donations start at $5. Donations are used to buy art supplies, educational toys and academic scholarships for kids in Guatemala.
Perfect for: A younger sibling. Turn this great gift into a teaching moment this holiday season. Show your younger sibling or loved one that you care about kids just like them – and teach them how a simple box of crayons can make such a big difference.

EduSeed is an organization that promotes education in historically disadvantaged populations, including women, in D.C.
Donations: Acceptable donations start at $20, and are used to provide school supplies, educational mentoring sessions and college visits for girls.
Perfect for: Any girl on your gift-giving list. Make this holiday season all about girl power, and give your female loved ones the opportunity to help girls who don't have the means to help themselves.

Photo: This violin is being donated to the Hungry for Music organization, one of the many charities at the Takoma Park Gift Fair.

Poplar Springs Animal Sanctuary
Poplar Springs is an animal refuge in Maryland that offers care and rehabilitation for unwanted, neglected or abandoned farm animals.
Donations: Donations starting at $10 allow you to sponsor the care of different animals on the refuge like a chicken, pig or horse.
Perfect for: Any animal lover. Your giftee will also receive a framed picture or their animal and their animal's story. If anything will make your animal-loving friend jump for joy, it's this donation!

Hungry for Music
Hungry for Music is a D.C. based, volunteer-driven charity that helps bring music into the lives of underprivileged children throughout the country.
Donations: Donations start at $10 and are used to provide underprivileged kids instruments. You can also donate your old instrument to the organization and it will send it to a child in need.
Perfect for: The musician on your gift list. He or she will appreciate spreading the love of music and probably be happy to get rid of some unwanted instruments.

So Others Might Eat (SOME)
SOME provides necessities such as food, medical care and affordable housing for the homeless and poor in D.C.
Donations: Acceptable donations start at $10. Your money goes towards buying basic items like groceries and eyeglasses for families in need.
Perfect for: Extended family. This December, remind all of your relatives to appreciate what they have and make the holiday season special, from one family to another.

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