Friday, November 17, 2006

Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

Back in September I wrote an article on this and my other blog about philanthropy. It was triggered by the generous givings of Richard Branson and Warren Buffett. And now, with the seasons of giving bearing down on us, my mailbox overflows with desperate pleas from charitable organizations. "Please help the… [insert category of needy – two-footed, four-footed, winged, finned, environmental, or service.]" From the very local to the intergalactic, I'm on their list. And so my recycling bin overflows, too.

Had I Gates' billions they might all get checks. But I don't, and so I choose those causes that seem to me to make the kind of difference I believe in, and where most of my dollars go to the purpose of the charity rather than its administration. On New Year's Eve I will write checks and make online donations to a number of such nonprofits.

But what about the rest of the year? OK, today is a memorable day for me, so I've decided to commemorate it with more than a celebratory lunch. I want to also honor some of the people who have reached out their hands and thoughts to me, and helped me take those steps that have changed my life for the better.

Here's the deal. Each time I profile one of these special people on this blog, I will make a donation to Heifer International in their honor. I choose Heifer because they also help people improve their lives. Recipients of animals from Heifer receive training and support, but also agree to pass on the gift by sharing the animals' offspring with others in need in their community. Thus, the gift of self-reliance and self-esteem multiplies and spreads through the village, whether it's in Albania or Appalachia.

When you go to Heifer's website, click on "The most important gift catalog in the world." There you'll see all the animals – and trees and bees – you can select. Personally, I'm partial to llamas and sheep because of the wonderful fibers that come from their fleece. So today, to kick this off, I'm giving a share of a llama in honor of all my friends and family. Here's the gift card I chose for you all....

And starting on Thanksgiving Day, I will profile one special person a week for the rest of the year. To honor each one I will choose something from the Heifer catalog that seems to suit them and what they've done for me and others. I sure hope they like their "gifts"!

Who will you honor today?

Note: All photos are copyright Heifer International, and come from either their online media resources or, in the case of the gift card image, from the electronic card I selected.

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