With Christmas just around the corner and purchasing at a year-end high, do we ever stop to ask ourselves: "Why am I running through this department store, sweating through my festive wool sweater, searching for the perfect 302-piece wrench set and brand-name socks?" It's 2010. Some parts of the world still don't have access to clean water. And we're buying brand-name socks.
When Sean Aiken set out to work 52 jobs in 52 weeks, instead of accepting wages, he asked his employers to donate money to the ONE/Make Poverty History campaign. In the end, $20,140.60 was raised to help eliminate poverty. What if we decided to do Christmas a little bit differently this year? What if we put down our wrench sets, our video games, and our celebrity-endorsed perfumes in exchange for something a little more meaningful?
UEnd: Poverty is a charitable organization that encourages people to 'Gift Different' this holiday season. When users purchase a gift card online, they can either donate to a project in someone else's name, or let the recipient choose the project. With each purchase, an email is sent to the recipient with a personal message from the giver, and (if it applies) instructions on how to choose a project.
Projects are categorized by cause, country, and partnering organization - with 100% of donations going directly to the organization in charge of that project (UEnd's website states that it has larger sponsors to specifically take care of their operating costs).
There are various causes to donate to, including projects in Education, Gender Equality, Community Development, and Infrastructure - and over a dozen countries in need of support, such as Guatemala, Liberia, and Bangladesh.
Specific projects include: installing a satellite phone in Chipursan, Pakistan to connect the secluded rural community to the outside world, funding schools in Sierra Leone to pay for health programs and teacher training, and providing a potable water system for the Miskito indigenous community of Pamkawas, Nicaragua.
Each project also features a running tally that displays the total budget goal, along with the current funds raised. This way, anyone can see where a particular cause stands.
Rejoice! This year we can get rid of our sweaty wool sweaters, and spend our time and money giving to a cause we really believe in - and helping to make a difference in world poverty at the same time.