Beyond the Red Cross and the Mall
A Guide to Gift-Giving Alternatives

compiled by Sara Smits

Tired of trying to find the right gift for family and friends? This year consider some alternative gift ideas that will not only honor the recipient but also make a larger impact on the lives of others. Please choose from a variety of options, ranging from aid to hurricane and earthquake victims to saving gorillas in Rwanda.

To allow for more listings only web addresses are given. If you do not have internet access, please contact SPC and we’ll help.

Hurricane Katrina Relief
Although donations to hurricane relief have been overwhelmingly generous, there are a number of grassroots organizations that have been overlooked during the allocation of aid. Please consider donating to one of the following groups:

This national grassroots community orga-nization, headquartered in New Orleans, organizes displaced low-income members to make sure their neighborhoods get their fair share of aid from the government.

Common Ground Collective
A local, community-run organization that offers assistance, mutual aid, and support to New Orleans communities that have been historically neglected and underserved.

Cooperative Development Foundation
Cooperatives are an important building block in social and economic recovery. They provide infrastructure and access to credit and markets, all of which will be critical as the rural economies of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi move from their dependence on the initial relief efforts to long-term sustainable recovery.

Food Not Bombs
FNB groups all across the southern United States are feeding families displaced by Katrina. The groups need clothes, cooking equipment, food, cooks and money to provide for thousands of hungry homeless people. Every donation goes directly to helping people. FNB is familiar to many affected by Katrina because FNB has been sharing free food in communities throughout the area for many years and can often reach areas not accessible to other agencies.

Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Women and children are highly vulnerable to domestic violence; the social and economic stress of the recent disaster has increased their vulnerability. LCADV has created a fund to assist survivors, in addition to rebuilding the five shelters lost to Hurricane Katrina.

The People’s Hurricane Relief Fund and Oversight Coalition
A coordinated network of community leaders, organizers and community-based organizations, PHRF is helping to meet the needs of people most impacted by Katrina. Specific activities include a story collection project and a call for solar power as there is still no power in some parts of New Orleans.

The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond
The People’s Institute was created to develop more analytical, culturally-rooted and effective community organizers. Through this process, it has built a national collective of anti-racist, multicultural com-munity organizers who do their work with an understanding of history, culture, and the impact of racism on communities. The office and many of the staff’s homes were destroyed in the hurricane.

S.O.S. – Saving Our Selves
The work of this coalition is intended to transcend emergency relief, and will extend into the recovery and restoration phases. Grassroots organizations, united with each other and their supporters, will be involved in creating and implementing strong plans for rebuilding, strengthening and transforming the communities and lives of the rural poor and working class in the South.

Sparkplug Foundation
The Sparkplug Foundation provides a listing of grassroots organizations that provide immediate disaster relief to poor people and people of color. These organizations are directed by or accountable to the people they serve, and foster the democratic inclusion of poor people and people of color in the rebuilding process.

United Houma Nation
Although largely unknown to the public and ignored by the press, numerous Native tribes in the Gulf were impacted by Hurricane Katrina. The Houma Nation, one of those hardest hit, is reaching out to various Native communities throughout the region.

South Asia Earthquake Relief
ATH’ROT “Helping Hand”
This is the collective effort of independent voluntary organizations and individuals to implement shared and sustained programs – both short- and long-term – for the rehabilitation of victims, particularly in inaccessible areas.

CARE and its partners are delivering sup-plies to survivors of the massive earthquake. With winter approaching, the people of Pakistan and India need tents, food, safe water and other essentials which CARE supplies.

Child Nurture and Relief
CHINAR is an independent, non-profit organization working for the psychosocial rehabilitation of orphaned and vulnerable children in conflict areas–irrespectiveof race, religion, culture or gender. The organization is accepting donations to help the victims of this disaster in India.

Edhi International Foundation
Edhi Foundation, with offices in the region, sprang into action hours after the devastating quake hit, providing health services, food, shelter, and rescue operations. Currently they have three centers with response teams mobilized in Muzaffarabad and eight major administrative zones situated throughout Pakistan, all working on the relief efforts.

Grassroots International
Grassroots International has put together a list of progressive groups working in the region affected by the earthquake. Listings were generated by a number of progressive South Asian activists in the United States.

Islamic Circle of North America Relief
ICNA Relief provides food packages for families in areas hit by the quake, and builds tent villages for evacuees housing more than 280 families. Other facilities include a school, clinic, kitchen, and water tanks. Much needed medicines, medical supplies and surgical equipment are also provided on an ongoing basis to quake victims.

Islamic Relief
Islamic Relief has worked in Pakistan since 1992 on emergency relief, development and disaster preparedness projects. IR’s work is heavily focused on the areas that have been badly affected by the earthquake. IR has extensive experience in this region.

Life for Relief and Development
LIFE, with help from AmeriCares, Brother’s Brother Foundation and the Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs of North America, is distributing medicine, tents, blankets, and clothes to the victims of the Pakistan earthquake. The humanitarian and medical supplies, including antibiotics as well as first aid kits, are being distributed by the staff of LIFE’s office in Pakistan.

Mehergarh, a center for learning, is launching a program through which youth from the rest of the country can join hands with the people of Kashmir to rebuild affected communities. By working together they hope to go beyond the distribution of goods to more comprehensively address both physical and emotional needs of the population.

Network for Good
The Network for Good provides a listing of not-for-profit organizations doing work in South and Central Asia to aid the victims of the earthquake.

Other Alternatives

Syracuse Peace Council
Help the Peace Council continue to educate, agitate, and organize for peace and justice (see SPC in Action, "SPC's Wish List" and "Fall Fundraising" for suggestions).

Clear Path International
Civilians living in Viet Nam and Cambodia are still becoming victims of landmines and unexploded ordinance some 30 years after the end of the US war on Viet Nam. Clear Path International provides aid to victims of these invisible dangers.

Alternative Gifts International
The mission of AGI is to send authentic, life-giving gifts to a needy world – gifts to nourish and sustain a more equitable and peaceful global community. They build partnerships with oppressed people in crisis and work to protect and preserve the earth’s endangered environment. AGI gives you 35 life-sustaining worldwide projects to choose from.

Sara, a member of the PNL Editorial Committee, compiled this with the input of Peace-List and SPC Announcements readers.