November 23, 2011 | Posted in: Living Hartfully

I’m a card-carrying member of the “non-commercialized holiday traditions” club. For most of my adult years I’ve not been a believer in the usual nostalgic American tradition of shop ’till you drop, unfettered consumerism type of holiday madness. I call it practicing safe stress over the holidays and quite frankly, every day. That’s why I loved living in Europe for 10 years with all those wonderful outdoor markets and much less commercialism at that time.  Of course as a kid, I reveled in my parent’s consumerism as I opened present after present for Christmas. As the wise poet, Maya Angelou says, “When we know better, we do better”.  Now it’s just embarassing to imagine how much value I put on that stuff as a kid. Ah yes, adulthood does have its advantages.

If you’re a fan of Oprah, you may have seen the following info in her magazine and if you didn’t catch it; I’m bringing it to you right here. Yes, I’m copying the info from her magazine word for word on page190 written by Lauren Murrow and Rachel Mount. I commend them on their research into what a few bills can do in somebody’s life.  So, in honor of all Americans who may not have as much to give this season as well as those of you, like me, who take a vow to avoid all malls and shopping venues from mid-November until mid-January; I give you 17 ways under $20 to give this ThanksGIVING, your particular holiday or any day you feel like it. Starting at a buck, you can make a contribution to make changes in the world without adding to the pile of stuff for somebody.

  1. $1 for 2 books shipped to a classroom in Africa. In many African school rooms, 20 students share 1 textbook:
  2. $2 for a set of drumsticks for a low-income public school student learning to play the drums:
  3. $3 for a field trip to a museum, concert or theatre production for a high-risk youth:
  4. $4 for 2 hours of prepaid phone time for a soldier stationed overseas – calling cards for our troops:
  5. $5 for a one-burner kerosene stove for a family that would typically rely on an open fire:
  6. $6 for measles vaccinations for 15 children in a developing country:
  7. $7 for a week’s worth of food for an abandoned dog or cat at a shelter run by the American Soiciety for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals:
  8. $8 for a medical teaching doll to be used in educating a child about his or her cancer treatment:
  9. $10 for a box of nails uded to adapt a disabled veteran’s house from Homes for Our Troops:
  10. $10 for a day’s worth of fresh fruites and veggies for feed 2 chimps, most of which have been orphaned by poachers at the Jane Goodall Institute’s Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehab Center in the Republic of Congo:
  11. $10 for 2 specialized bottles for babies born with a cleft palate, who otherwise might suffer from malnutrition before receiving corrective surgery:
  12. $10 for cloth and tools so an Afghan woman can become self-sufficient by taking a 6-month tailoring course through Creating Hope International and the Afghan institute for Learning:
  13. $11 for 11 trees to be planted in Alabama communities devastated by the April tornadoes:
  14. $12 for 20 pounds of multipurpose soap to help keep families germ-free around the world through Oxfam:
  15. $14 for 2 nutitious meals delivered by volunteers from Meals on Wheels to a housebound senior citizen:
  16. $15 for a backpack and school supplies for one homeless or low-income urban child:
  17. This item was not in the Oprah mag, but I wanted to offer it to you and your friends as a way to connect with loved ones over the holidays and every day. For $9.80 you can send 10 custom greeting cards or postcards to anywhere in the world with your own photos and personal message at and select the Pay-as-You-Go option to send some cards. You can send a couple more on me – my treat as an added bonus. The video will walk you through sending a card and the company prints it, stuffs the envelope, stamps it and mails it for you. If you have questions – send me an email

On a final note – for a little more money, you can donate to your local food bank or give some small business owners some work by giving the gift of their services to loved ones such as: house cleaning services, yard services, home improvement services, a massage, a mani/pedi or spa treatments, a home chef,  or any number of personal services that include experiences rather than stuff to help support the small business community.

I hope this list is helpful. Big thanks once again to Oprah and her team for brining us enlightened ideas.  (BTW – have you seen her Life Class show – awesome!)  If you have more ideas of making a BIG impact on a small budget, let me know and I’ll share ideas. Cheers!

As the CEO (Chief Energizing Officer) at Hartful Living including and; I’m a Messenger and Mentor for women entrepreneurs, connecting them to their capacity to energize their work and their lives in the art of living Hartfully. At, you can make a living through giving with greeting cards and gifts to build your network net worth as an additive to your current business or an easy way to send gratitude and kindness to the world.