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We’re officially down to the wire for picking out meaningful gifts for Christmas this week. But did you know that you can easily help out someone else or an entire community just by purchasing a gift? Avoid the holiday rush with these 5 easy, last-minute holiday gifts that give back to the people that produced them, so you can feel good about the gifts you’re giving this year.

Buy a Cow…or a Goat, Llama, Water Buffalo, Sheep, Chicks, Geese, Honeybees – Starting at $10

charity giftsYou can help make a difference to a family in Africa by purchasing livestock or funding a project from Heifer International. Heifer links communities and helps bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty. For the friend who has everything, why not give a cow or some honeybees in her honor to help someone else? For as little as $10, you can even pitch in for an animal with other fellow donors.

Starting at $10 at Heifer International >

SEE ALSO Holiday Gift Guide 6 Green Gifts For Guys

Adopt an African Elephant – $25+

charity giftsThe World Wildlife Fund has the perfect e-gift for kids or the animal lovers in your life. Best of all, it will help ensure that future generations have wildlife left in the world. For just $25, you can adopt an African Elephant to support the preservation of the threatened species. But don’t stop there…you can also adopt a tiger, panda, fox, polar bear, or penguin!

$25 and up from the World Wildlife Fund >

Voltaic Solar Charger – Starting at $60

charity giftsCan you imagine being a doctor or relief worker fighting Ebola in West Africa while also being faced with unreliable power sources? Help support their efforts by purchasing a Voltaic solar charger, which provides up to three 3.5 Watt solar power kits to aid workers.

Starting at $60 at Voltaic >

SEE ALSO Holiday Gift Guide: 6 Green Gifts For Down-to-Earth Gals

CSA Subscription – Prices Vary

charity giftsWouldn’t it be great to receive a plethora of hand-selected, delicious fruits and veggies throughout the year? A community supported agriculture (CSA) subscription is a thoughtful way to send fresh, seasonal produce to anyone on your list and also help sustain local farmers’ businesses. It’s easy to find something your gift recipient will enjoy the most when you can even choose to have eggs, honey and flowers delivered!

Prices vary from Local Harvest >

Give Time…and Knit for Charity – Price of Materials Will Vary

charity giftsSometimes the simplest things are the most meaningful of all. In our hectic lives, we can forget what’s most important–the pleasure of another person’s company. Why not tell your mom that you’ll be dedicating a couple hours a week to spending quality time with her? Bond over the Collector’s Edition of Anne of Green Gables this winter and start knitting for a charitable cause! This list of organizations will get you started, but there might even be a charity in your community that will accept your knitted donations. You can even use recycled yarn to avoid buying new fiber from the store. The memories you make with your mom (or close circle of friends) while giving back to those who could use the extra warmth will make putting in the time a worthwhile gift.

Give to these organizations >

These are just a few of the ways you can give back to society in behalf of the gift recipient while also showing just how much the gift helped another human being. Of course, there are plenty of local, national and international charities that could use your help. Picking an organization that matters to a friend or family member, and donating in their honor is a thoughtful way to give something special to them instead of focusing on store bought gifts. After all, it’s the most wonderful time of the year to do something truly great for someone else.

Read more Eco Monday features here.

Do you have any other charitable gift ideas?

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