Do you think that Christmas is so overly commercial that it's lost its true meaning? If you responded with a yes, you join the 82% of people who feel the same way (according to the polls on Debate.org). Based on this finding, it seems modern Christmas gift giving is on the way out – a wasteful activity that has nothing to do with the 'real spirit of Christmas' defined by The American magazine back in 1889 as: “to give up one's very self — to think only of others — how to bring the greatest happiness to others — that is the true meaning of Christmas.” I couldn’t have found better words to describe Christmas if I tried.
So when I received an email from Gift and Befriend about their unique gift giving concept where you help a person in need (PC term for someone poor), I felt a sense of relief. Here is a business, I thought, that finally understands the true meaning of Christmas. Their email was a welcome sight amongst the barrage of emails entitled “Christmas Gift Guides” and “Christmas Gift Ideas” in my inbox.
HOW IT WORKS
The Gift and Befriend’s gift giving concept is wonderfully simple: you purchase a gift to give to a person less fortunate. There are no catches, no gimmicks. If you’ve ever heard of the micro-lending business Kiva where you can lend money to help a struggling business owner in the third world, Gift and Befriend operates in much the same way. However, instead of putting up the money for a loan, you purchase a gift from their Amazon Wish List instead. And unlike Kiva, the receiver of your gift is not expected to pay you back for it. After all, it is a gift.
Now I don’t lend my support to things willy-nilly as you know. I have strict criteria about the brands, causes and people I support. But this is dear to my heart having come from a developing country myself (I was born in the Philippines). Poverty is a massive issue in developing and third world countries which is made worse by the unequal distribution of the world's wealth. This is probably not the post for a diatribe on this subject so let's just say that the Gift and Befriend concept aligns with my personal values so much that I felt compelled to write about it.
WHY I LOVE IT
Here’s what I love about the Gift and Befriend concept:
- Before purchasing a gift, you have the opportunity to get to know the person you are giving to by reading their blog, viewing their photos, watching their videos and communicating directly with them via Gift and Befriend
- When you purchase the gift, Amazon delivers it directly to the person in need or the charity office that the recipient is affiliated with
- Once you’ve given the gift you can keep in touch should you wish – like pen pals, minus the pen
- There are no admin costs so neither you nor the recipient is charged for participating in this giving program
- You can send an Amazon gift certificate instead of a gift if you wish – the receiver gets it faster
- You have the option to remain anonymous should you wish
- Receivers are from all around the world, not just the third world, and Gift and Befriend's definition of 'people in need' also include homeless and sick people
As if I wasn’t convinced enough, I also watched this video of a 6 year old boy named Munene and was left speechless. I had no words - and that's a first! Here's the video if you want to watch it (warning: he's a heart breaker..!)
So if you’ve done your Christmas shopping and have extra cash to help someone in need, please sign up to be a giver on Gift and Befriend. If you don’t care to receive Christmas gifts then why not choose a person in need and encourage your family and friends to purchase a gift for that person instead. Or if you can't do any of those, then please show your support by sharing this post. It's easy to be frustrated about the commercialisation of Christmas (what do you think propelled me to write this post!?) But I decided that complaining about it wasn't going to help in the slightest. I am now convinced that the only way to bring back the true meaning of Christmas - is to give to someone in need.