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The candlelight and carols starting to get to you? Grinch finally fading away as the true spirit of the season reveals itself? Put away the ribbon and bows then, and make a tax-deductible year-end donation in honor of yourself or someone you love. Another wonderful charitable gift comes our way from MercyCorps, the international humanitarian-aid organization. Each gift offers empowerment to communities ravaged by poverty, natural disasters, or war. Called “Mercy Kits,” more than 20 different kits are available on MercyCorps web site,, so you can customize them to your favorite causes.

The “kits” direct your donation towards common (and worthy) causes such as peace, women’s small businesses, and children’s health in struggling countries, but for the jaded philanthropist in your life, several kits are more specific. For $150, buy a pig for a family; when the pig has a litter, the family pays the piglets forward to another needy family. For $250, provide soccer uniforms and equipment for war-torn villages — spreading messages of community solidarity and good sportsmanship. A beehive and training is only $65, and an HIV-AIDS awareness kit is only $24. Every gift kit is received as a small 5x7 card with concrete examples of how the money is used — perfect to tuck into a stocking.

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