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December 15, 2008

The Gift of Giving

Handcircle_18 Last year, I had one person left on my list to buy for with just a few shopping days left before Christmas.  It was our Aunt Franny.  Franny is sweet, fun, amazing and giving, but she is one of those people who has everything!  She always has the coolest new gadgets, wears the trendiest fashions and volunteers for the best causes.  She also spoils our kids every time we see her.  She really is quite easy to please, but finding something special for her is always very important.  After searching the malls and Internet, feeling frustrated and tired, I picked up the Oprah Magazine with hopes that the 2007 “O” list would give me some ideas.  Then, I found an article about the gift of giving.  I thought, “Wow this is a great idea!”  Auntie F loves to help others and instead of another cashmere scarf or pair of earrings, we could give her money to donate to someone in need.

The article listed quite a few charities, but the one that really caught my eye was called Kiva.  Kiva.org helps you loan money to the working poor all over the globe. It’s their mission to connect people together to alleviate poverty. The organization lists profiles and posts pictures of individuals who are in need of sometimes the smallest things. I found it amazing how little some people need to just get off their feet. There are individuals that need money to buy fabric to start a clothing business, a mule to help in the fields or just to put a bathroom in their house. This reminded that not everyone has an indoor toilet. Can you imagine? Many of the women entrepreneurs listed have several children who work to supplement their husband’s income in order to send their children to school. Others are widowed. The people you see on Kiva's site are real individuals with real needs. Once you choose who you want to help, you can track their status on a profile page. When you get your loan money back (6-12 months), you can keep it or you can relend to someone else.

Yes, Aunt Franny got homemade artwork from the kids and the $ gift to give to who ever she wanted to through Kiva. She absolutely loved the gift and called us after the holidays to tell us all about the two people she chose to help with our gift. Because of this wonderful experience last year at Christmas, I also chose this charity to donate a portion of my book sales to this year. I have already helped three working mothers around the world. And when I feel down after listening to the news about how awful our economy is doing or how desperate my portfolio looks, helping women like Sam-at Ya in Cambodia put a bathroom in her house puts my own life into perspective.

This is an original post to Philly Moms Blog.  Kristie is also the author of Mommy's High Heel Shoes, has a personal blog, where she writes about her busy life as a working mom and author, and writes product reviews for Real Mommy Reviews

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