My 2nd Annual Holiday Charity Challenge

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Last year I shared this list and the idea behind it means so much to me that I wanted to do it again this year. Black Friday is looming just around the corner and instead of jumping on the anti-shopping bandwagon aiming to preserve the 'sanctity' of Thanksgiving (which is a farce to me considering what the holiday really represents) I wanted to offer up a challenge.

Replace the purchase of one gift this year with a donation to a charity instead.

That's it.

Can you imagine the impact of every shopper taking $25+ dollars and giving it to a worthwhile cause instead of investing it in some physical gift that will likely be used up/forgotten about in a few months? After doing a bit of research on which charities are the 'best' I've come up with a list of my 10 favorites.

1. World Wildlife Fund.

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You can 'adopt' an animal starting at $25. For $50 you get a stuffed animal of the one you've adopted, a tote bag, plus some other cool goodies. I have the pygmy elephant on my Christmas list! (Update: Mom got me the elephant last year and it's been perched happily on my bookshelf ever since!)

2. Heifer International.

Giving an animal is like giving someone a small business, providing wool, milk, eggs and more. Animals can provide families a hand up, increasing access to medicine, school, food and a sustainable livelihood.

My marathon training partner told me about this one. She said she wanted to buy a goat for someone for Christmas and the immediate look of bewilderment on my face forced her to explain what Heifer International is all about. Basically, you can chose what types of animals to buy and they will be donated to a family to use. They have everything from a flock of ducks for $20 to a camel for $950.

3. Unicef.

Unicef provides vaccines for over 50% of the world's children, they responded to 200+ emergency events last year, and are currently raising funds for Syrian child refugees & Philippine's typhoon victims. Basically, their your catch all good guys.

4. Shop Komen.

water bottle

The famous pink ribbon! 25% of the purchase of anything from their online store goes to the Susan G. Komen foundation. They have a great list of items under $20.

5. Tree People.

For the dirty hippie nature lover on your list I can't think of a more appropriate gift than planting a tree in their honor. Browse through their holiday card selection, donate $25, and the card will be mailed to your recipient informing them that a tree will be planted on their behalf just in time for the Holidays.

6. Oceana.

Ocena

Oceana is like World Wildlife Fund but specifically for sea creatures. You can adopt an animal starting at $30 and that adoption package includes a cookie cutter in the shape of the animal. #SoCute

7. Rainforest Alliance.

Growing up my 'cause' was deforestation. I think every kid goes through a phase around the middle school years where they get super passionate about saving the world from some evil. Donations of $35+ come with your choices of a tote bag or tree frog plus. Perfect stocking stuffers!

8. Charity Water.

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100% of donations and sales of their online store go to fund water projects. From playing cards for $5 to gorgeous gold necklaces there's something for every budget.

9. The Nature Conservancy.

Want to adopt an acre in the Northern Rockies? Of course you do, and now you can! All donations of $10+ receive one of the iconic Nature Conservancy calenders (they send them to me every year ... I guess I owe them now!)

10. Donate to your Local Animal Society.

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Raising money for the Pensacola Humane Society with my marathon was one of the best decisions I've ever made. Animals are my weakness, and I can't even look at the photos of animals waiting for forever homes without tearing up.

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What charity would you pick and who would you 'gift' it to? Did I leave your favorite charity off this list?