Add meaning to the holidays, while helping the world's poor

November 8, 2011

Alternative gifts add a twist of caring and creativity to online shopping while improving the lives of families in need all over the world.

It can be difficult to find a gift for the person who has everything. Instead of scouring crowded malls this holiday season, give that special someone a meaningful gift that changes lives around the globe. Mercy Corps offers an array of charitable gifts that provide a compassionate and convenient way to give.

This year, Mercy Corps has added 12 new symbolic gifts to the roster of “Mercy Corps Gifts” — from a donkey to a tea stall to a truckload of water — with prices to fit almost any budget. Also new this year, Mercy Corps’ online catalog features a gift generator tool that makes it even easier to navigate through the total of 43 different symbolic gifts and select a theme just right for everyone on your shopping list.

“The holidays are about more than physical gifts, they are about the spirit and act of giving,” says Dan O’Neill, Mercy Corps’ founder. “Mercy Corps Gifts show your loved ones you care while providing hope and making a difference in the lives of people who need it most.”

The available gifts symbolize the work Mercy Corps does around the globe to transform lives and rebuild communities: A gift featuring a mobile health unit represents the critical medical services provided to families during times of natural disasters and conflict. A vegetable garden gift represents the seeds and tools for families to plant household gardens for healthy meals and a reliable food source. A woman’s small business on another gift represents microfinance loans and training to help enterprising women turn their ideas into income.

With prices starting as low as $16, Mercy Corps provides a variety of symbolic gifts to choose from. When you send a Mercy Corps Gift, your recipient receives a beautiful, full-color, personalized card on behalf of the sender. If you wish to save paper, a PDF version of your card is available to send electronically.

A few of the symbolic gifts offered this holiday season, include:

• Clean water ($25): Water is the most precious of all resources. It quenches thirst, nourishes animals and irrigates crops. Mercy Corps brings clean water to some of the world’s poorest, most isolated people. We work with communities to dig wells, install piping systems and deliver clean water in times of disaster, like floods in Pakistan or drought in Somalia.

• Outfit a classroom ($125): A well-equipped classroom invites exploration and discovery. Given the right tools, a teacher can engage her students to learn about each other and the world around them. Mercy Corps helps renovate and furnish schools in poor, war-torn or disaster-stricken communities, offering a safe space for imagination and inspiration.

• Soccer ball ($40): When children are traumatized by disaster and violence, sports can help them heal. Mercy Corps uses soccer to help youth regain a sense of normalcy when their communities are recovering from disasters and conflict, like the earthquake in Haiti and civil war in Liberia.

• Yak ($90): For thousands of years, yaks have been loyal partners to families living in the world’s most rugged terrains. Uniquely adapted to carrying loads in mountainous areas, they also produce valuable milk and wool for blankets and clothing. Mercy Corps helps families care for their precious livestock and help them bring products like cheese, butter and other finished goods to market — earning much-needed income.

Visit to see the full selection of gifts and place your order today.