Give the Gift of Food and Water: Heifer International and Charity:Water

People say that the first thing to go when the economy is down are donations to charity. But we've seen a strange thing happening among our friends and acquaintances in the past few weeks. Instead of cutting gifts to charity, people are becoming more apt to cut gifts to themselves and their families—as if, "If money's tight for us, it's so much worse for those in need." And that's true.

In the spirit of nourishment and home and the comfort that comes from both, we're going to be highlighting several organizations that make lives better through simple farming, food, and clean water. Read about two of our favorites below... The reason we love these two organizations is that it takes so little to do so much. It's amazing to see the concrete implementation of $20—that it buys a flock of ducks which can triple a family's income (and give them fresh, healthy eggs) in China or provide clean water to one person for 20 years (!).

Heifer International
The gift of an animal can completely transform life for families in developing parts of the world. A goat can provide milk, a chicken lays eggs, a sheep gives wool that can be made into clothes or sold. And best of all, animals reproduce, so offspring are passed on and offer a source of income for more people. Part of Heifer's mission is to train the recipients of animals about sustainable farming practices, and recipients pledge to "pass on the gift" by giving offspring to others who need help.

You can purchase an entire animal or a share of some of the more expensive (read: bigger) animals like heifers, llamas, and water buffalos. Worried about the scarcity of honeybees and the impact on our food system? Give the gift of honeybees for $30. Rabbits are $60. A flock of geese is $20. Take a look to see more options.

Charity:Water
We all take plentiful, clean water for granted. But in many parts of the world, people walk miles to fill up containers with dirty water that makes them sick and keeps kids from attending school. Charity:Water builds wells that solve that problem for $5,000. That's all it takes for a well that will give clean water to a village of thousands.

Charity:Water's formula states that $1 will buy clean water for one person for one year. That means you can buy a $20 bottle of water (think of how much you've spent on bottled water in your lifetime!) that will provide water for one person for 20 years. You can also set up a fundraising page or send greeting cards.

Any other favorite food-related charities? Tell us.

Related: Un-Gift Guide 2007: Gifts for Good Causes

(Image: Charity:Water)

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