Let me clarify. Not “how to shop if you’re a girl,” or “how to shop for things to give to girls,” or — especially not! — “how to purchase a girl.” In fact, that last one is something I’d like to see wiped off the face of the earth forever.

If there’s someone in your life who’s hard to shop for (like I am), let me suggest a different approach to holiday gifts. A gift from a charitable organization — two of my favorites are Heifer International and Plan — will not only surprise and delight them (Mama Rubi loved it the year that I gave her a hiveful of bees from Heifer), but it will make an enormous difference in the life of a family in a developing nation. Charitable gifts are environmentally friendly, too — no manufacturing, no shipping, no driving to the mall!

As one of five sisters, especially dear to my heart is the cause of keeping girls in school, and keeping them out of the clutches of human traffickers. Plan offers many ways to improve the prospects of girls, whether you can afford $10 for a newborn baby blanket or $1000 to prevent a Nepali girl from being sold into servitude or prostitution.

So as you make your holiday shopping list this year, take a tip from Rubi. Spend your money where it will do a world of good. Even a small gift spreads love and hope like ripples in a pond — and you’ll never know just how far those ripples will go.

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