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 Ruby's Road: Season of Giving

Ruby's RoadSeason of Giving: Making a difference in the world
By Dawne Belloise

It's been called the season of giving, and let's face it, getting is tremendous fun too. For a small town, Crested Butte has diverse shopping opportunities from the funky little gift shops and galleries to the magnificent. With all the Butte Bucks sold out almost instantly, people all over the valley will be getting some mighty fine gifts and deals from local shops.

On a global scale this season, there are ample opportunities to uplift the world in a way that will have an outlasting, life altering effect on the recipients for generations. Some local organizations and individuals have chosen to make a difference by getting involved. You can too, with minimal effort and contribution. Here are a few of the alternatives of gifting, that are connected locally but have far reaching results.

Heifer International was discovered online by the Baim family of CB in their search to help then fourth grader, Trevor Baim, right the wrongs of the world. When Trevor watched the TV news as a young boy, he was determined to change the world and make things better. What they found was a way to help entire villages restructure their lives and become self-sufficient.

Through Heifer International, you can buy a flock of chickens or gaggle of geese ($20), a water buffalo ($250), buy a goat or a llama ($120) or even a starter colony of twenty thousand bees (only $30) and all without having to worry about Crested Butte zoning codes.

Heifer International has helped to educate third world communities for over sixty years by implementing the concept of giving livestock to help impoverished global peoples and training them in the ways of healthy and sustainable animal husbandry...teaching them how to feed themselves. The simple concept of creating a community based cycle where recipients pass on the animal gift by sharing the offspring with another family, who in turn, give that animal's offspring to another community family, has worked remarkably well.

Trevor, who is now twenty-one, has been challenging the CB community in drives to raise money to purchase livestock since fourth grade, raising thousands to buy arks of livestock for villages. Rotary International has now teamed up with Heifer International to raise even more funds. For complete details about this organization and to donate visit their website at

The Equilibrium Fund Maya Nut Program is based in Crested Butte. Local Erika Vohman created the program to, "help indigenous and marginalized women find ways to produce food, earn income and raise healthy families without destroying their environment. We do this by teaching them about the nutrition, uses and processing techniques for Maya Nut, a nutritious, delicious and easy to harvest rainforest tree food which was once abundant and is now threatened with extinction throughout its range by logging for fuel wood and land conversion for pasture and annual crops."

The recipients are in Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador and are caretakers of their families and the environment. You can donate to train rural women to produce and cook with Maya Nut in any of the sponsor countries for $25 per woman. For $100 you can plant an entire nursery of Maya Nut trees for a whole village and/or for another $250, sponsor a village workshop. A $50 donation gets you a half lb. of yummy Maya Nut Flour, while $100 gets one lb.

Since one acre of Maya Nut forest can offset forty tons of carbon in a twenty-year cycle, you can donate to offset your own carbon output by purchasing an acre of reforestation for $500 per year. The Equilibrium Fund will then reforest degraded land with Maya Nut trees, which will provide high quality habitat for birds and wildlife, protect vulnerable watersheds and feed impoverished families. When you think about how much can be accomplished with so little, it puts gift wrapping in perspective. Go to

Bead for Life strives to eradicate extreme poverty through the production of handmade jewelry constructed of vividly colorful beads. Ugandan women, mostly HIV/AIDS and refugees from the war in Northern Uganda, generate income from the beads to lift their families out of poverty. The Boulder, CO., based organization reinvests all the profits into community development, which funds Health, Education and Vocational Training, Life Skills and Affordable Housing. Their website is

The Women's Bean Project has helped impoverished women for over sixteen years through employment and life skills with their gourmet food production business. The women produce bean soups, baking mixes, treats, beverages, salsa mixes, bread mixes, coffees, sweets, cookie mixes, spice mixes and more. The products are also available at as well as the website The Union Congregational Church in town spearheaded the local effort to support both Bead for Life and the Women's Bean Project this year. The sale of beaded jewelry and gourmet food stuffs which were available through the church, and at the CB Community School Holiday Bazaar, were wildly successful…in fact, they’ve sold out of all the products. However, you can order from either of these global organizations online: and

There are many organizations to choose from which directly and positively affect real lives. To really be inspired this holiday season, do an online search for alternative gifts and browse the various websites...and then make a donation because the real gift is knowing that you made a world of difference.

Note: Editor Note: As with all Ruby's Road articles, this has a Crested Butte, Co. flavor to it, but the message contained within is global. Do what you can and have a happy holiday!

Posted On Thursday, December 14, 2006

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