Let me stray from pizza a bit - well, OK, a lot - to give a plug for the World Vision Gift Catalog. World Vision is, in its own words, "a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice." They serve 100 million people in nearly 100 countries around the world, and they do not discriminate on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender.
So what's the deal with the gift catalog? Well, they offer unique items that make great gifts, from jewelry to scarves to coffee. I was provided with a sample of their fair-trade coffee, which blends beans from Ethiopia, Sumatra, and Costa Rica, and I can honestly say it is outstanding, with a rich coffee flavor that's as good as any that I've had.
The great thing about ordering from World Vision is that you can help in two ways. First, many of the items themselves are handmade by individuals from around the world. The coffee, for example, is available in a set that includes a gift bag that's been hand-sewn by women in Africa, and a hand-carved wooden coffee scoop.
Plus, part of the proceeds of your purchase go to help people in need around the world. The prices run a little high, but the amount you pay over fair-market value, and minus shipping charges, is tax deductible. And World Vision also gets a very good rating from Charity Navigator, so rest assured that your dollars are being put to good use.
And while the selection is not huge, you're not likely to find these items at major retailers. Sure, you could get your loved one a scarf at the mall, but countless other people are going to be unwrapping the same scarf on Christmas morning. A silk scarf that was hand-woven by women in Thailand's Surin Province just might mean a little more. The recipient will love it, you'll feel good, and you'll be doing good at the same time.