This might be the perfect gift

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It comes up every holiday season. Someone on my gift list has a tight budget; Im tempted to buy a gift, but fear the recipient will feel obligated to reciprocate. Perhaps its the opposite; what do you get for the person who either has, or can afford, everything?

Or maybe you know someone like me. Mom and I are fortunate to have our basic needs met, and recently agreed weve reached a point in life when we want to shed stuff, not add to it. We truly and quite literally dont want any gifts. But not all loved ones are comfortable leaving my stocking empty.

If these remind you of someone on your list, heres a thought: Give the gift of giving. In other words, change someones life who really needs it, with the money youd otherwise spend on your someone. Simply by making the donation in their name instead of yours.

A friend recently told me he and his wife bought (through their church) a cow, a goat, and a chicken for a family across the ocean, for whom these livestock are life-altering. His similarly altruistic daughter paid outstanding lunch tabs of poorer children at her kids middle school.

Once our children are grown and gainfully employed, this could become a family tradition. Imagine if extended family joined in: The Smiths could help not only the less fortunate Joneses, but maybe the Khans and Grimaldis, too. What a community tradition that could become.

There are many ways to help, and many local charities who need it. Why not donate in the name of that hard-to-buy-for person, and wrap up the receipt with a pretty bow?

Its like getting a two-for-one deal on that heartwarming feeling of being helpful when and where its most needed in this case, for both the to and from names on that gaily wrapped package.

The best and most memorable gifts are those with meaning.

The nonprofits who could use it are too many to list, so if you need help matching your interests with charities, send me an email.

Sholeh Patrick is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network who fantasizes about tiny houses. Nowhere to put stuff. Contact her at Sholeh@cdapress.com.

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