Valentine’s Day is a pretty big deal, apparently. And an expensive one. According to the National Retail Federation, people are expected to spend more than $15.7 billion dollars showering their “valentines” with flowers, chocolates, and other gifts to mark the famous Cupid holiday. That, I’ll never understand. That's more than one billion more than last year's estimate. I keep thinking about how those billions of dollars could be better spent elsewhere.
Take the number of people in the world who are hungry for example -- 925 million people! Organizations are trying to get food to the hungry to prevent malnutrition and death, and it only costs 25 cents per meal to feed starving people. You do the math – the number of meals you can provide with $15.7 billion is pretty staggering. I’d rather feed the poor and hungry then feast on chocolate and watch flowers die in a vase.
I know this is a touchy subject. There are so many people who feel very strongly that their loves must buy them flowers, chocolates, or at least dinner out, to celebrate Valentine’s Day. My husband and I, however, are of a different opinion. We have spent our last 19 Valentine’s Days together doing absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. It’s just another day, really. Flowers and candy on that day don’t say “I love you.” Rather, “I love you” is supposed to be said, and truly felt every day of the year.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not judging others for how they choose to show their love. I’m just looking at the big picture and merely suggesting that if Valentine’s Day did not exist, people would have $15.7 billion dollars to save for themselves or donate to charity.
If you decide to celebrate your love by giving to others, here are a few ideas:
• Donate to the World Food Programme and help them feed the hungry of Haiti and millions of hungry children all over the world. Only 25 cents provides one meal.
• Donate to WaterPartners International and help them provide safe drinking water to those without. Only $25 provides clean drinking water to someone in a poor country for their entire life! $150 will provide clean water for a whole family.
• Donate to “Check Out Hunger” the next time you go grocery shopping. For only a $2 donation, the food banks are able to distribute $25 worth of food to hungry and homeless people.
• Donate the money you would have spent to buy flowers or chocolate to your favorite charity. If everyone did, it would truly make a difference.
Or, if you really want to give your Valentine a gift to unwrap, why not buy one that benefits charity in some way? Check these out:
• Charity Charms. Buy a beautiful charm and 25% of the proceeds goes to the charity you choose.
• Charity Bouquets by Teleflora. Check out a selection of bouquets that donate back a portion of proceeds to various charities.
• Shop Heart, the on-line shop benefitting the American Heart Association.
Happy Valentine’s Day, no matter how you spend it.
Water Partners International
World Food Programme
Charity by Teleflora
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