So it's the night before Christmas Eve, you still have a full list of shopping ahead of you, and you're freaking out right? Or maybe not if you're one of those super productive people who finish their Christmas shopping in like March, but if you are like me and veer to the unproductive side, I have a list for you. In fact everything off this list you can get up until the moment you open presents. Like you can take your laptop with you to the tree on Christmas morning and order your gifts in mid-wrap, that's how super duper last minute this list is. And the best part; every single thing on this list will do genuine good. Let's face it, the economy sucks, the climate is teetering on the verge of chaos, there may or not not be killer, light allergic, cannibal zombies in our future (I really should not have watched I Am Legend the other night). But despite these things, we, as in us average individuals, those of us not receiving lump sums from the bailout, still have the ability, as corny or cliched as it sounds, to make a difference. So if you're stuck for ideas and running out of time or if the thought of going to the mall tomorrow makes you want to stick an ornament in your eye, then please consider one of the following. I suggest these various nonprofits and charitable causes because I have had at least some contact with them, whether it's because I have donated or they've been suggested by others or they're just a cause close to my heart. So here, officially, is the Super Duper Last Minute Gift Guide of 2008 (that is guaranteed to make you and your recipient all warm and fuzzy inside).
1) Operation USO Care Package-for $25 sponsor a care package that will go to a deployed US soldier
2) St Jude Children's Research Hospital - donate a sum of your choice online, peruse their gift catalog, order holiday tribute cards, visit your local Target store and buy special cards or wrapping paper with proceeds going to the hospital-no matter how you give to this cause, your gift will make an invaluable impact
3) Cookies for Kid's Cancer - started by parents of a child with cancer in order to raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer research, you can donate directly or order cookies with proceeds going directly to the cause-so you can do good and get something yummy in return
4) Save the Children-a charity dedicated to helping children in the US and around the world, recommended by none other than Valentino Achak Deng, one of the Sudanese lost boys who spent years in refugee camps as a child and saw first hand which nonprofits did the most good
5) Pet Helpers-Charleston's local animal rescue and adoption shelter, you can make a one time contribution or for a larger amount, sponsor one of the shelter's pets for a year-this is even more necessary this year because so many people are giving up their animals to shelters because of the recession
6) World Wildlife Fund-adopt an endangered animal (and get a fuzzy stuffed version sent to you) or contribute to any of the huge number of worthwhile efforts this global nonprofit undertakes
7) Lowcountry Food Bank or Central Virginia Food Bank (or any local foodbank around the country)-don't want to haul a bunch of food somewhere? no problem, go to one of these sites and you can virtually donate food-right now food bank are facing critical shortages around the nation, NO ONE should go hungry in the United States, not when there are people left who have even the smallest amount to give
8) South Carolina Aquarium- an awesome place to visit and an even more awesome place to give to-plus you can adopt a Loggerhead Sea Turtle!
9) Deoki Nandan Education Trust, Inc. -can definitely vouch for this one because my sister is the secretary-it was started by her friend and her friend's Indian husband and is aimed to bring education to poor children in rural India-I can not stress how valuable and necessary this kind of thing is in a country like India with areas that are so devastatingly poor
So there you have it. I can not stress how important and valuable these nonprofits are and how much good your help would do. And trust me, this list is for me too, to remind myself that things are great and all, but they just can't compare to hope and compassion and empathy. So if you're rushed and stressed and think you might have a nervous breakdown if you here "Jingle Bell Rock" over a store's loudspeakers one more time, then consider staying in tomorrow and ordering the rest of your gifts from this list.
Goodnight now and Merry Christmas Eve :)