Well, today I wrapped and made payments for two of the charity "under the Christmas tree" presents, as I described in my first post about this idea.
I drove to the local wildlife refuge; there is a bird sanctuary in this town that is very important for the preservation of a species of beautiful crane. I put $20 in the cash donation jar and I bought just over $30 of merchandise from their gift shop. When I returned to the apartment I made a box for under the tree, decorated with black, white, silver and blue "bird" motif. I put on a Santa Claus tag and wrote on it the above donation information. Thus I will have this for easy reference next year, and to have a fond memory. This is my first donation to that particular wildlife refuge.
Local conservation efforts are very important, and they struggle to make ends meet, like all charities. Thus, if you can, I suggest that you select your nearest zoo, botanical garden, bird or wildlife sanctuary or national conservation area or wildlife refuge and put that on your regular Christmas or Hanukkah donation list. All conservation is ultimately local; if you cannot protect your local flora and fauna the overall situation of the world surely follows. Do not forget that much valuable work goes on in zoos and botanical gardens.
I then made a box for a Catholic school for impoverished Native American children. This is a charity that I have given to, on and off for over twenty years. During their fund raising they send free items, such as calendars, note paper, and so forth, and so I responded to their mail fund raising appeal, but I used their Internet site to make my $25 donation. I then used the little box that they had sent previous year's Christmas cards in, wrapping it with the gift wrap that was also in that set (angels) and also a photo from their appeal of one of the priests posing with students and their art work. I added my Santa Claus tag and recorded the donation amount on the back.
Catholic schools are unsung heroes, especially in the Dakotas where the poverty and despair among Native Americans is very bleak. Again, do consider contributing to a school in your faith, or otherwise, that is located in an area where they are providing residential education to impoverished and under served children. If you do not know of one, do consider another of my favorites (recently visited by First Lady Laura Bush) Boys and Girls Town.
So, I have two boxes wrapped and paid for under the tree with ????? more to go!?
I hope that you have found this idea of mine inspiring in your own family and among friends and colleagues.