Karen Overstreet | 5/30/2006 10:58:42 PM
Spring is full of gift-giving opportunities, but the kinds of gifts have changed for many people.
Instead of traditional gifts, recipients are often requesting donations to their favorite cause, according to LSU AgCenter family resource management specialist Dr. Karen Overstreet. Wedding registry Web sites, for example, may have links to the couple’s favorite charity.
If your idea of a Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduation or wedding gift is something more tangible, however, Overstreet says to consider purchasing gifts that also will benefit a particular charity.
Many larger organizations such as the American Heart Association offer merchandise symbolic of their cause. The AHA Web site Go Red for Women, for example, contains links to a variety of information, including Shop for Red that has everything from t-shirts to jewelry to day planners (http://www.goredforwomen.org/).
The American Diabetes Association Web site (http://www.diabetes.org/shop-for-books-and-gifts/gift-of-hope-catalog.jsp) has merchandise to support its work.
Others, such as the Susan G. Korman Foundation, may have arrangements for companies to produce merchandise in an identifying color with profits going to their cause. Everything from mixers to scarves can be found in retail shops in the identifying shade of pink. Specialty items can also be ordered from the Susan G. Korman Foundation Web site (http://www.efastcom.com/Marketplace/control/giftshopmain).
Not interested in health-related groups? Habitat for Humanity includes calendars, cards, tote bags and other items on their Web site (http://www.habitatgiftshop.com/index.asp?). Museums have developed a reputation as a good place to look for gifts.
With the advent of the Web, shoppers can browse gift shops in any location. Check out the Smithsonian site for their enormous variety of merchandise. (http://www.smithsonianstore.com/home.jsp).
"Don’t overlook local groups that might be special to the recipient," Overstreet adds. Zoos, animal shelters, hospitals, botanical gardens, historical societies, schools or civic clubs are just a few that may have merchandise available for purchase.
To make the gift special for the recipient, be sure the purchase supports a cause meaningful to the recipient, not just one that interests you. Unless you know the recipient extremely well, it’s better to stay away from causes that might be highly controversial.
"Political or religious causes should be saved for those whose views are well known," the family expert says, explaining, "Gifts are celebrations of a special event, not an opportunity to promote a belief."
When purchasing gifts from organizations, especially if through the Web, stick with groups that have proven track records. Many national organizations have local affiliates that may offer items locally. Two Web sites, Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org) or the Better Business Bureau (www.give.org) are ways to check out an unfamiliar charity.
The organizations mentioned are just a few of many, Overstreet notes, recommending to search the Web for one that matches your interests.
"Purchasing a gift from a favorite organization is like getting two for one. You have a tangible gift to give, and the organization gets a donation," Overstreet says.
On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: www.lsuagcenter.com
Source: Karen Overstreet (225) 578-1425, or Koverstreet@agcenter.lsu.edu