At adoptaclassroom.org, make a generation donation to benefit schools damaged by superstorm Sandy. The site promises 100 percent of donations will go directly to teachers for their students. A donor selects a classroom from hundreds registered by teachers to contribute by region of the country, school name, teacher name and other search criteria. If a donor has no preference, Adopt-A-Classroom partners the donor with an underserved classroom in their community.
Lots of organizations arrange for holiday care packages shipped to active duty servicepeople. At the nonprofit adoptaussoldier.org, the experience goes deeper. The site "assigns" a U.S. soldier serving in one of more than 128 countries to send care packages and write letters to. Soldiers sign up to participate. Details of the soldier you're matched with arrive via email, easy to gift to a charitable-minded person on your list.
While some animal adoptions are symbolic, without a specific animal to bring the experience to life for children, the Pacific Whale Foundation in Maui, Hawaii, offers the personal story of a specific dolphin or whale. And kids gifted a turtle get to name one! It means a lot to young recipients who might not be so jazzed by a more general donation made in lieu of a holiday gift in his or her name. Adoption packages range from $25 to $75 and offer downloadable adoption certificates and plush animal toys in the higher range. Go to pacificwhale.org.