Considering the date, it's likely all your Christmas shopping is already done. But we all have someone on our lists who already seems to have everything imaginable in the way of material things. There's also the possibility that until now you've resisted the crass commercialism of a once-sacred holiday and have been looking for a way to make gifts that would somehow keep on giving long after the wrapping paper has been thrown away. Or perhaps you've waited until the end of the year to make contributions to charities and other equally worthy nonprofits and are now overwhelmed with all the deserving supplications in your mailbox. Have I got some deals for you! The following is a list of organizations that make a tremendous contribution to that intangible but very important "quality of life" for which our beloved Austin is so well-known. Merry Christmas! Sustainable Food Center (P.O. Box 3323, Austin, 78711; 385-0080): We introduced you to the SFC in our cover story on local food-security issues (www.auschron.com/issues/dispatch/2000-04-28/food_feature.html ). This hard-working East Austin nonprofit is engaged in creating a self-sufficiency model that really works. This year, for the first time, they're offering memberships (student, $15; individual, $25; family, $50; supporting, $100) and have established several levels of annual contributions (Patron, $250; Okra, $500-$999; Tomato, $1,000-$4,999; Strawberry, $5,000 -$9,999; Chile Pepper, $10K and up) to support their successful ongoing programs such as classes at La Cocina Allegre Food School, local farmers' markets, and the Jardin Alegre Youth and Community Gardens... Texas Folklife Resources (1317 S. Congress, 441-9255): Every year, program developer Dawn Orsak comes up with some wonderful new ideas to document and share the incredibly diverse culinary history of the great state of Texas. One year it was a series of cooking classes featuring recipes from her own Czech heritage that went all the way to a presentation at the Smithsonian. In 2000 it was a great photo exhibit documenting the family food traditions of four different Texas ethnic groups. A "Friend of the Folk" membership ($25) at TFR for the Lone Star foodie on your list will help keep Orsak's thoughtful and thought-provoking programs coming in the year ahead... The Green Corn Project (833-7466): This is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to helping disadvantaged Austinites grow organic food at their own homes. GPC provides materials, seeds, plants, and labor to help needy families and individuals plant organic gardens. This would be a great place to make a donation in honor of your favorite gardener and a wonderful gardener's volunteer opportunity... The Shepherd's Flock (8024 Mesa Dr., P.O. Box 164, Austin, 78731-1319; 343-2090): This fledgling all-volunteer nonprofit group prepares meals for up to 500 hungry families and working poor individuals in East Austin every Friday. The substantial meals are then distributed by church groups and other volunteers on Friday evenings. Charles Webb is an enthusiastic and energetic retiree who'll be glad to take your donation or sign you up to help. A good choice for the active senior on your list looking for an important civic activity... Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farm (11418 Sprinkle Cut-off Road, 837-1215): Membership in this wonderful living history museum helps support their fascinating array of educational programs, many of which spotlight the culinary history of 19th-century Central Texas. Culinary history buffs of all ages could appreciate this membership... Capital Area Food Bank (8201 S. Congress, 282-2111): Last, but certainly never least, CAFB can always use donations. They are the foundation on which most other area food pantries and soup kitchens are built. Businesses looking for a worthwhile charitable donation should look into underwriting one of their Kids Cafes.
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