Eight ways how ’tis better to give back

Having trouble finding the perfect gift for the one who has everything?

Want to give back to the community this holiday season and into 2007?

Here are eight great ways to contribute.

  • Make a Relief Donation: Israel has cease-fires in Gaza and with Hezbollah. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita occurred more than a year ago. But Magen David Adom and the Red Cross are still seeking financial assistance in these areas — as well as for other disasters such as house fires, explosions and transportation accidents. For more information and other donation options visit www.afmda.org and www.redcross.org.
  • Volunteer and Support Youth: It is said that the Jewish people should remain with previous generations and future ones, l’dor v’dor, from generation to generation. Make a connection with a member of the next generation by becoming a mentor. Jewish Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Los Angeles offers mentoring opportunities for adults older than 21 to pair with 6- to 18-year-olds, primarily from single-parent homes. Volunteers are expected to be involved for a minimum of a year and meet with their little brother or little sister twice a month. To apply and/or learn more about JBBBS’ mentor program and the sports buddies and art buddies opportunities visit www.jbbla.org.

    Another mentoring option is with Koreh LA. Koreh (Hebrew for “read”) sets a volunteer up with a preschool or elementary school student in the Los Angeles Unified School District to read for one hour each week. For more information, visit www.korehla.org.

  • Purchase a Gift Basket for a Soldier: Let an Israeli soldier know they are in your thoughts with a snack package from Dash Cham. The Jerusalem-based company includes a mix of snacks, a cup of soup and a juice in the $10 parcel. Available www.dashcham.com.
    Another basket option supports The Daniel Pearl Foundation — whose goal is cross-cultural tolerance through music, journalism and unique communications — with a 40 percent donation of each $195 package sold. The basket features the Judea Pearl and Ruth Pearl edited book, “I am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl”; a CD with compositions that weave in readings of Daniel Pearl’s articles, as well as candles, dreidels and chocolate. The baskets are sold at www.flashybasketsbymichelle.com.

  • Help Refugee Family From Darfur: A $30 donation to Jewish World Watch will provide a Sudanese family in a Chad refugee camp with two solar cookers. The light, small cooker, made of cardboard and aluminum, removes the family’s need to send women and girls in search of firewood which has put them in danger of gender-based violence. The pluralistic organization — comprised of various synagogues throughout Southern California with a mandate to fight genocide — also sells Chanukah cards with the proceeds going to the cooker program. To make a donation visit www.jewishworldwatch.org.
  • Join the Bone Marrow Registry: It is written in the Talmud that “He who saves one life, it is as if he had saved the entire world.” People with life-threatening illnesses such as lymphoma and leukemia, seek cures through bone marrow and blood stem cell transplants from someone that has a similar tissue type. The Gift of Life wants to increase the amount of prospective Jewish donors in the registry, especially since the Shoah severed bloodlines. An $18 donation enables the medical resource to send kit for a self-administered test, where a swab of cells could be taken quickly from inside one’s cheeks. Online donor registration and a list of upcoming donor drives are available at www.giftoflife.org.
  • Have a Tree Planted in Someone’s Honor: Help Israel’s environment — and the world’s — by giving a unique gift to a loved one or friend. For $18, the Jewish National Fund will plant the tree and provide a customized certificate with the honoree’s name and your personal message. In addition to the different themes available for the tree certificates, water certificates are also available. To make the world a little greener visit www.jnf.org.
  • Have a Winter Cleanup and Donate: One doesn’t have to wait for the spring season to clear up a closet or home and give to a good cause. The National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles (NCJWLA) accepts clothing, accessories, collectibles, furniture and appliances for their Council Thrift Shops year-round. NCJWLA also has a vehicle donation program. To set up a pick up or get more information, visit www.ncjwla.org.
  • Join Mazon’s 3 Percent Circle: It’s the season for eating, but there are still many that go hungry. Mazon – A Jewish Response to Hunger, a grant-making organization that combats hunger of people of various faiths and backgrounds, has multiple ways to donate. One option for this holiday season is to donate 3 percent of the cost of your event, whether it is a Chanukah party, bar/bat mitzvah or a wedding. The 3 percent pledge could continue with the cost of birthday parties, attending sporting events, restaurant dining, etc.

    To find out more information about the circle or how to get a holiday tribute card in someone’s name, visit www.mazon.org.