- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 25, 2009

There are many ways to show you care during the holidays, but that caring can be taken even further by giving gifts that will make a change for the better in the world. Here’s a sampling of the great foundations offering gifts that provide donations to groups working to make the world a better place.

* Offering hope to a global family in poverty, World Vision’s Gift Catalog (www.world vision.org) has a choice of gifts you can buy in a loved one’s name. For example, give a dairy goat ($75) in your children’s names and a family in impoverished Uganda will receive an animal that will nourish their hungry children and help provide the family with an income, as they sell the goat’s milk and cheese.

More than 100 gifts are available, ranging in price from $12 to more than $3,000.

* While most people have pets for the companionship they can provide, many injured members of the armed forces returning from Iraq and Afghanistan rely on trained service dogs to live an independent life.

Gift givers can support the Puppies Behind Bars (www. puppiesbehindbars.com) program, in which inmates raise service dogs for disabled veterans. The inmates teach the puppies a series of basic manners and commands in addition to several specialized commands.

The puppies then are matched with individuals, such as Pax, who was paired with Sgt. Bill Campbell, an Iraq war veteran. Pax aids Sgt. Campbell by helping him keep his anxiety in check and reminding him to take his daily medications. With the command “block,” Pax will stand between Sgt. Campbell and approaching strangers - a situation that without Pax, Sgt. Campbell could find debilitating.

You can support the program by purchasing a Chewy Shoe ($16.75), a red, white and blue dog toy made of Vibrame rubber that features a tugging and towing rope. Puppies Behind Bars receives $2 for each pet toy purchased.

* Help the woman in your life look and feel good with a pair Genetic Denim’s Gabrielle jeans ($154).

One hundred percent of the net proceeds from every pair of jeans will benefit the Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research (www.gabrielles angels.org). The jeans are Genetic Denim’s Shane skinny-cut jean, which offers a tight, form-fitting and superslimming silhouette. Each pair features the foundation’s angel logo on the coin pocket.

* It’s not as flashy as jewelry, and it’s certainly more interesting than a tie: For less than $8 a month, you can adopt a rat that has the potential to save a life.

HeroRats (www.herorat.org) in Mozambique and Tanzania are trained to sniff out the TNT in land mines, pinpointing buried explosives by scratching at the soil. (Their light weight won’t trigger the mine.) A trained rat is able to clear 100 square meters of ground in 30 minutes - a task that would take a human two days.

Apopo (www.apopo.org) researches, develops and deploys the rats, but it takes funds to train them. Visit www.herorat.org to adopt one of the African giant pouched rats. The gift recipient will get an adoption certificate, photos and updates regarding the gift rat and the work it’s doing.

* Wrap a young person’s mind around making a positive change for the world’s oceans with the gift of an adoptable plush marine creature through the Oceana Marine Creature Adoption Program (www.oceana.org/adopt).

Adopt one plush animal with a personalized adoption certificate ($50), one plush animal with a framed adoption certificate ($75) or all four Oceana plush marine animals ($150) - the seal, hammerhead shark, killer whale and bottlenose dolphin - with a personalized adoption frame.

* The Kohl’s Cares for Kids (www.kohls.com/kohlsStore/ourbrands/kohlscaresforkids.jsp) program gives 100 percent of the net profits from Kohl’s Cares for Kids merchandise to support children’s health and education initiatives nationwide.

This year, the merchandise includes Laura Numeroff’s popular “If You Give a …” books, including “If You Give a Moose a Muffin,” “If You Give a Pig a Party,” “If You Give a Cat a Cupcake,” and “If You Take a Mouse to the Movies” ($5 each). Also available are plush character dolls ($5 each) themed to each book.

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