Small Change That Changes Lives

Small Change That Changes Lives

by Xio Axelrod

‘Tis the season of giving, but also the season of big spending. And we’re spending more every year. Black Friday, once an American phenomenon, has spread around the globe prompting sales and discounts on everything from 4K televisions to stuffed toys to luxury cars. This year, an estimated $1 billion dollars was spent online on Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving! We seem to be in a rush to spend more, faster.

Mr. X and I enjoy our gadgets. We both enjoy wine and Scotch. Both love books (naturally) and our Kindles are always full. But come the holiday season, we’ve often found ourselves in competition with one another to spend more. Get the biggest gift. The biggest “oh, babe, you shouldn’t have” response. It was cute, for a time. And then it became…embarrassing. Big gifts sat in the basement, unused, until we either sold them or gave them away.

It really bothered me, the excess. And it bothered him too, so we stopped. We still exchange gifts – great gifts! – but we make sure they’re actually things we want and/or need. A new teapot, tickets to a sold out show, Russian candy. Things that mean something.

Around the time we made the decision to shop smart for the holidays, we redirected that energy into helping others.

We sponsored our first child in 2009 via Children International, and now have two more through Save the Children. It feels good to help. To give with purpose. But not everyone can commit $25-$50 per month. Which brings me to my favourite organization: Kiva.

As the video explains, Kiva is a non-profit organization on a mission alleviate poverty via microfunding. Using the Internet, and a worldwide network of microfinancing institutions, Kiva allows individuals to lend as little as $25 to help families, individuals, and small businesses around the world.

What can $25 do? You would be surprised! Clean water, farming equipment, school-building supplies, there are so many worthwhile endeavours.

kiva loan cycle

When you open your Kiva account, you deposit $25 and then browse through the borrowers to find a project that appeals to you. When you find one you want to support, you lend your $25. The borrower repays over time and you can either withdraw your $25, or you can choose another borrower. It’s so simple, I don’t know why no one had ever done it before.

This small amount, $25 – the equivalent of two movie tickets, a pizza and salad delivery on a Friday night, or a few Starbucks lattes – can change, maybe even save, lives. In this season of giving, what could be more of a gift? I’m not saying don’t splurge on your loved ones. By all means, go for it. =) But if you have a little to spare, consider donating to some of these global causes, or find a local organization to support. Small kindnesses can go a long way.

Happy holidays to you and yours from me and mine! I wish you all of the peace and joy of the season.

xio sig1


  1. I’m so with you on all of this. This Christmas we cut the expensive gifts for us and the children, and spent on holiday experiences for the family like shows and events. I couldn’t agree more with your ideas around giving back at this time. There is enough money in the world for nobody to go hungry, and it all starts at home. If everyone who could, did make contributions, the wealth imbalance might even be corrected. KIVA looks great

    • I think sometimes that people feel the world’s problems are too big for them to be of any help. That’s probably the kind of thinking that has stopped us from ending problems like hunger and homelessness. Every bucket of water started with a single drop. Happy Christmas! oxo

  2. This is a fantastic idea! I’ve been donating money once a year to three charities, but I think I will switch to sponsoring them once a month.

  3. That is such a cool idea, Xio! Yeah, the holiday spending is tough. Oddly, the more I stay away from the malls the easier it is for me to avoid the black hole.


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