Green Home Musings

Gift and Befriend: Reminding us of the true meaning of Christmas

Written by Jennifer Nini

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.

Gift and Befriend gift receiver Derrick Munene

Gift and Befriend gift receiver Derrick Munene

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

RECOMMENDED VIEWING

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.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Gift and Befriend. We only support organisations that meet our high ethical standards. For more information, click here.

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About the author

Jennifer Nini

Jennifer Nini is a writer, activist and the founding editor of Eco Warrior Princess. In 2010, after studying Fashion Business, she launched Eco Warrior Princess to explore her interests in fashion, politics, social justice and sustainability. Jennifer is also the founder of The Social Copywriter, a digital agency harnessing the power of copywriting and content marketing to help mindful businesses reach more people. When she’s not perfecting a sentence or coaching business clients, you will find her at her certified organic farm reconnecting with nature.

2 Comments

  • Very well written, Jennifer. Thank you. It’s only when you watch a video of someone else in their local environment, watching them eat what they have, do you get a real understanding of what life is like for others. And the really amazing thing about this world is that it is 100% pure luck (nothing else!) that we are not in as difficult a position as them. Sometimes I think we can all be too smug about who we are, when we really have done nothing to earn it.

    • Hi Mark, thank you for your kinds words. I agree wholeheartedly with what you’ve said. A few years ago I wrote a blog post about ‘First World Problems’ which received mixed reactions. My intention is not to make people feel guilty but to understand that there are people who are less fortunate. Indeed it is a luck of the draw – and many of us are extremely lucky!

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