cross posting from my other blog...
this year i tried to give mostly non-object things - memberships, food, experiences, and succeeded quite well.
i had wanted to get the solio solar charger as a gift for my family (hey if i am going to be out drawing a chalk line - it will be a good way to power the gadgets!) but decided instead to put the money towards bigger things.
i first read about kiva in good magazine, then I was reminded of it while visiting the red lipstick blog.
here's the deal, Kiva brings together small dollar lenders in the US (or other "developed" [i am not a fan of that term] countries) to lend money to individuals around the world - it gives the money through micro lenders around the world. Since American dollars go pretty far in other parts of the world, even a little bit can make a big difference. Once the load is fully funded, the money is distributed to the individual for their business. As they are succesful, they pay back the loan (100% of microloans are repaid) and the money gets put back into your kiva account. You can withdraw the funds, or you can use it to refund new projects. Pretty cool little money cycle there.
So go online at kiva.org, and pick out some loans that are of interest to you - maybe give someone the last $25 they need to complete the loan - or start someone off who doesn't have the money yet. Or give the entire amount of money to one person to fully fund their project. Think of it as a nice holiday gift to the world. (Does that sound sappy? - I don't care - just do it.)
I am helping to fund Kossi (making shoes), Cecilia (a pub - thats for g-pup!), Ana (food market), and Komi (decorations).
and happy holidays to all!