Gifts with Conscience for Dads and Grads

By Cathleen Falsani 6-14-2012
Photo by Tom Wang / Shutterstock.
Photo by Tom Wang / Shutterstock.

Looking for a last-minute gift for Fathers Day or a graduate?

How about doing something for someone else in honor of your loved one?

Give a gift that helps the poorest of the poor feed their families, earn a living, protect themselves from disease or educate their children.

Here are several suggestions for unique gifts that keep on giving — for the common good.

Get Their Goat

Through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Good Gifts website, for $50 you can purchase a goat for a family in the developing world and give it in the name of a dad or grad you love.

Goats can survive hot temperatures, rocky terrain or drought—you name it! This makes them especially valuable for families living in hot, dry climates where it’s tough to raise other animals. Fresh milk, which is great for children, can also be used to make cheese, yogurt and other dairy products to eat and sell. As goats multiply, families often share the offspring with neighbors in need, helping lift entire communities out of hunger and poverty.

If a goat doesn't float your boat, consider a pig ($30), an alpaca ($175) or go in with friends and family to buy a cow ($500).

Seeds, Bees and Miracle Trees

Oxfam America's Unwrapped website offers of wealth of unusual gift that quite literally keep on giving for years to come. You buy the gift. Your loved one gets a card saying a gift has been given in his or her name. And the supplies go to people who need them most.

For $35 you can donate a grove of "miracle trees." The remarkable moringa tree is cultivated in many tropical countries and earned its nickname because its leaves, flowers, fruits, roots, and seeds all pack a punch. It contains rich amino acids and has antibiotic properties. But the most widespread use of moringa is for water purification at the household level.Your gift will help a family learn to plant their own trees and produce enough seeds to purify their drinking water.

Or you might consider purchasing a grove of fruit trees — mangoes, papayas, etc. — for $35.

For $60 you can plant 100 trees (avocado, banana, etc.) in the developing world. Or go in as a group and plant 500 trees for $250 — or go all in and help plant an entire forest of 1,000 trees for $500.

Alternately, Oxfam offers several very reasonably priced gifts-that-keep-giving, including a pack of seeds ($12), honey bees ($18),  manure — yes, you read that correctly — ($12 or $24 for twice the stinky goodness), or help irrigate a farmer's land for two months ($20).

Nothing But Net

What better gift for anyone than to help save a life in their name? Nothing But Nets, a project of the United Nations Foundation, will send a bed net treated with mosquito repellent to families and children in the developing world where malaria is a perennial killer. Bed nets are $10 apiece and you can send one or 1,000 in honor of the dad or grad you love by clicking HERE.

Malaria, from the Medieval Italian words mala aria or “bad air,” causes 200 million illnesses per year and kills 600,000 people — mostly children under the age of five. Malaria is particularly devastating in Africa, where it is a leading killer of children. In fact, there are 10 new cases of malaria every second. Every 60 seconds, a child in Africa dies from a malaria infection. Forty percent of the world’s population lives in malaria endemic countries, and its treatment consumes nearly 40 percent of these countries’ public health resources. In addition to the burden on local healthcare systems, malaria illness and death costs Africa approximately $12 billion per year in lost productivity.

To date, Nothing But Nets has sent more than 6.4 million bed nets to the developing world.

Go Fishin'

Via Heifer International, for $300 (or $30 per share) you can give a school of fish to a family in need in the name of your favorite angler.

Teach a dad to fish, feed a family for a lifetime. Healthy, lean sources of protein; fish fingerlings help families increase their daily nutrition.

And if dad (or grad) is more of a land lubber, consider giving a water buffalo — "the living tractor of the East" — for $250 (or $25 per share.)



Educate a Child

For Adam Braun, the founder of Pencils of Promise, what has become his life's work started with a single question he posed to a child begging on the streets of India: "What do you want most in the world?" Braun figured the child would say a television or an iPod or something along those lines. Instead the child answered: "A pencil."

Braun says: I reached into my backpack, handed him my pencil, and watched as a wave of possibility washed over him.A smile erupted and his eyes brightened. And I saw then the profound power and promise brought through something as small as a giving a pencil to just one child.

Over the next five years, Braun backpacked through 50 countries, handing out pencils and having conversations with parents, children, educators and relief workers. Those experiences led him to found Pencils of Promise in 2008, a not-for-profit dedicated to bringing education — by building schools — to the poorest of the poor in the developing world.

A donation of $25 sends one child to school for one year. What recent graduate wouldn't appreciate the gift of an education for a child who might otherwise never have the chance to learn?

And if you feel the need to give a gift that you can put in a box and wrap, $60 buys a pair of men's or women's nifty limited-edition Pencils of Promise sneakers, designed in partnership with Creative Recreation and Cesario Lo. All proceeds go toward funding POP's school building projects around the globe.

Cathleen Falsani is Web Editor and Director of New Media for Sojourners. Follow Cathleen on Twitter @GodGrrl.

Beach image by Tom Wang/Shutterstock.

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