By Erin Kayata
Ah, Valentine’s Day…a holiday designed to make you feel bad if you’re alone and incompetent if you’re with someone. Not to mention, sell chocolates, flowers and cheesy cards. But even if Valentine’s Day is one holiday you wish would go away, there are ways to warm the hearts of you and your loved ones, without all the cheese.
Give a Charitable Gift in Honor of Someone You Love
It’s easy to spoil loved ones with stereotypical gifts. But chocolate can be unhealthy, flowers die and stuffed animals are lame. Treat your partner, friends or family to a more creative gift by looking into charitable purchases in their honor.
You can purchase a beautiful mala bracelet from Humanity Unified a nonprofit founded by the founders of The Culture-ist, which is dedicated to lifting vulnerable populations out of poverty through education, food security programs and economic opportunities. 100% of net profits go towards a farming cooperative project that empowers women in Rwanda to rise above poverty.
Heifer International, an organization dedicated to ending poverty and hunger through sustainable agriculture, offers Valentine’s Day specials. Spend as little as $10 or as much as $1,000 to donate farming-related gifts that’ll help feed families in need. Gift options range from irrigation pumps to a flock of geese. So go crazy; it’s almost guaranteed to be the most unique and thoughtful gift your loved one has ever received.
Spend Your Time With Those Who Need It
If you can’t shell out the big bucks for a flock of geese but still want to give back, you’re in luck. Organizations all over the country host Valentine’s Day events, and many are looking for volunteers. Sites like volunteermatch.org allow you to enter in your city, cause and even whether you’d like a local or virtual volunteer opportunity. Just plug Valentine’s Day into the site’s search bar, and you’ll get an array of volunteering opportunities from dinner dances to crafting parties.
Raise Money for a Good Cause
If volunteer work isn’t your forte and you can’t spend on charity, focus your efforts on raising money for a cause close to your heart. This can range from the simple (asking your friends to donate via social media) to the more outlandish, such as the Cupid Undie Run. The Cupid Undie Run is a Valentine’s Day race held in cities around the country where participants run a mile in their underwear. The race helps raise money for the Children’s Tumor Foundation, which is dedicated to finding a cure for neurofibromatosis, a condition that causes tumors to grow on nerves, leading to severe health problems. Runners wear their underwear for the event in support of those with neurofibromatosis who can’t cover up, either, since their tumors are so visible. If running in your underwear isn’t your thing, or you simply can’t find a fundraiser that suits a cause you’re passionate about, get creative and come up with your own fundraising event. You could start a tradition for years to come.
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Photo of “Valentine’s Day – Holiday-Heart shape made with hands” by Shutterstock