Making Sense of the Holidays

- Shannon Simrell, ECOLOGIA Staffer

Four years ago, when the Virtual Foundation became a reality, I was sifting through my Christmas list, wondering why I hadn't caught "the holiday spirit." I decided to simplify:   I handmade presents for those closest to me and weeded those I felt "pressured" to give gifts to off of my list. Surely now I could experience the true meaning of the season!   Instead, I felt a little empty...

Peat Bog

My $30 donation to a Lithuanian Peat Bog project was spontaneous. I hadn't planned to spend the money. Yet, I was thrilled, satisfied. I had done something meaningful, free of retail store shopping and the threat of gift escalation. Even more importantly, I gave a group of people that I'd never met before the perfect gift - the chance to revitalize an ancient peatbog in rural Lithuania so that small, forest birds could have a place to mate and raise their young. Doesn't that beat a sweater!

Email Access

The next year I sponsored several months of email access in Tadjikistan for a community center. Not only did matching funds double my donation, my gift will grow as it is passed along to an entire region of people.