NEW YORK (AP) — Buy a sheep, "adopt" a soldier or name a piece of rainforest.
There are lots of ways to honor loved ones for the holidays with gifts through charitable-minded naming and adoption programs.
Heifer International's catalog at heifer.org offers shoppers a unique way to make giving more meaningful by buying cows, goats, sheep, llamas, water buffalos, bees, trees and more to benefit people in need around the world. A card of explanation goes to the giftee.
The National Wildlife Federation has an adopt-an-animal program. The adoptions are symbolic and represent a general donation to the cause but do include certificates and small tokens of appreciation, such as a stuffed animal, depending on the amount spent. An array of endangered species are covered, from sea turtles to baby pandas. Order online at nwf.org.
Or try one of these lesser known programs:
Cuipo, a preservation organization based in Newport Beach, Calif., has purchased swaths of Panama rainforest and allows supporters through its One Meter at a Time Foundation to help foot the bill. Pay $5 to $100 at Cuipo.org for various amounts of land or purchase gifts that come with codes on their tags where a meter of rainforest can be named through the website. New partner Sigg, the water bottle people, are offering Cuipo-branded bottles with the codes on tags for naming. The bottles are available for purchase at Whole Foods markets around the country.
The Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans went through tough times after Hurricane Katrina. For $15 to $500, animal adoptions that benefit the institute's various attractions, including a zoo, aquarium and insectarium, are available at auduboninstitute.org. Donations help feed and care for more than 15,000 invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals and insects. Special gift packages include a personalized certificate, photo and fun facts. More unusual adoptions include an Amazon milk frog and a giant anteater.