Hey ambassadors, we’re about to make your holiday shopping easier and more meaningful this season, with this great challenge inspired by one of our own staff. The best part is that it gives children a way to educate their families about causes that speak to them, and open up the holiday season for acts of kindness and charitable giving you can easily do as a family.

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We know how busy this time of year can be for our kindness ambassadors and their families. From recitals, holiday parties, semester finals, caroling, community service and family entertaining… you’re bringing cheer and putting kindness into action 24/7! So that’s why we know you’re up to this month’s challenge, and it may even take care of all your gifting in the process.

Replace a gift this year with a charitable donation. Come up with a list on your own or with a grown up about causes that mean something to you. Animals could be one example, or homeless support, carbon emissions reduction maybe, or education for girls… There are so many causes that need our help and no amount of monetary support is too small. Once you determine what cause you want to give to do some research (guides below). Make your donation receipt into a special card (some organizations will do this for you) and present to a family member or your entire family during your holiday gift exchange. The family will love to hear about your donation and why you chose that charity.

*Some charities will allow you to make a donation in someone else’s name and will generate a card for them. This is a great way for family members to feel included and honored in your gifting choice this holiday season. Homemade cards are great too!

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Item’s Needed for This Month’s Challenge:

  1. A compiled list of a few charities that support causes important to you. It’s always fun to take the challenge farther and pick a charity your family may not have heard of. I always love learning about new organizations, and in my family, we always try to get creative about which charities we choose for the purpose of educating family during the holidays. Here are a few exception organizations that offer honorary gift donations:


For Younger Ambassadors

  • San Diego Humane Society: This great local shelter lets you conveniently select items for their furry residents in need from their com wish lists, and items will be shipped directly to the shelter’s doors. Get donation receipts and honor a family member with a pet wishlist donation in their name.
  • Caterina’s Club: A groundbreaking Southern Californian organization born from celebrity chef Bruno Serato and his resturant’s mission to feed and nurture homeless children in Anaheim. Through food and compassion, his family provides children with the resources, love, and encouragement they need to be healthy, safe, and educated. Despite a devastating fire at the restaurant last year, the organization continues to campaign for it’s charitable causes and will host it’s annual Pastathon this December. Check out their great donation platform and customized cause crowd funding opportunities.
  • Guide Dogs For The Blind: Your little ones will love to learn about how guide dogs can be such good workers and much-needed companions for the blind. This is a great organization that has a fantastic honorary gift platform for donors.
  • Heifer International: Ending hunger and poverty by the donation of animals to families in developing nations. This one is so cool- you can literally donate a goat to a family (or chickens, etc), and that animal will provide product for them to not only consume but also to sell. Field workers work with families to help them start farming businesses to prevent hunger and poverty. Kids love this one.


For Older Ambassadors

  • Unicef: The most action-specific of all gift donation platforms, helping children in over 150 countries by making a meaningful difference. While other organizations allow supporters to purchase symbolic gifts, Inspired Gifts by Unicef are real items such as mosquito nets, therapeutic milk, school-in-a-box kits, and other creative gifts that have an instant impact. They’ll also generate a beautiful card for your honoree and will send via post or ecard.
  • Amnesty International: Well respected Human Rights organization that has incredible educational resources. Choose between different categories of causes to donate to, and get all the most up to date information on what matters most to you. When you make a donation in someone else’s name they generate a beautiful personalized card for your honeree. Mail or e-card options available at no extra cost. Great for out-of-town family.
  • Kiva: A novel non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world. Pick a specific borrower and follow their development! It’s great for empowering woman business owners in developing nations. My friend is a field worker for them, and they take the vetting process for borrowers very seriously so you know your loans are going to good cause.
  • The Humane Society: You’ve probably heard of it, and if you want to support animals in need look no further. The most comprehensive and groundbreaking animal welfare organization there is out there, and again, a wonderful place to get free educational resources. For a $10 or more gift donation they will provide a card, and for a $25+ donation, your recipient will receive a year-long subscription to their magazine.
  • Watsi: Giving to Watsi can be an incredibly impactful experience for you and your children to do together. It’s a technology to finance universal healthcare by crowdfunding surgeries and providing community-based health coverage. On their gorgeous site, you can scroll through profiles of patients that need medical procedures but cannot afford them, seeing patient’s pictures, bios and dollar sums of what’s needed for their treatments.
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How To Do This Month’s Challenge:

  1. Narrow down your list to the charity you want to donate to. If doing multiple gifts, choose a few!
  2. If it’s a charity you’re not familiar with, we suggest having a parent help run a search on Charity Navigator or Guide Star to get some additional information and ratings on the charity you’re choosing. Unfortunately, there are some scams and or charities that aren’t transparent about their facts. Make an informed choice.
  3. Make your donation and print a receipt or the generated card provided. Some charities will even mail you a card if desired.
  4. Present your card to a family member or the whole family during your gift exchange, and take a few minutes to talk to your family about the charity and why you chose to give.


Reflection Questions:

  1. What do you find most effective about the charity (ies) that you picked?
  2. Why do you think your family will enjoy hearing about this charity?
  3. Was this challenge more fun than picking out a present at the mall? Why?
  4. How do you think the person or animal receiving your donation will feel about your gift?
  5. What are some other specific gift donation ideas/actions you think people would enjoy participating in during the holidays? Ex: Donations covering a Holiday dinner for a family in need, donations covering blankets for the animals in shelters, donations covering bicycles so girls can get to school in developing countries…. We’d love to hear your thoughts!
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