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Holiday shopping is probably the last thing on your mind right now, in mid-September, although some stores are already setting out their Christmas displays while temperatures linger in the 80s.

As the retailers set their sights on consumer dollars, a group of first-class charities is hoping to change the conversation about holiday spending. They’re proposing a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and they’re calling it Giving Tuesday.

Giving Tuesday

Heifer International knows a little something about making holiday shopping more meaningful. Heifer receives the bulk of its contributions through its catalog of animal gifts, and many of those gifts come in the holiday season, when people are searching for a present that actually reflects their values.

Donate ChicksThe people who choose to direct their holiday dollars toward Heifer International gifts, rather than a video game system or an expensive handbag, make a huge difference to thousands of struggling families. The animals provide nutrition, yes, but more importantly they serve as a sort of small business that will be perpetuated and bring the family into self-reliance.

Giving Tuesday will be celebrated on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, which this year is Nov. 27, 2012. Nonprofits like the American Red Cross, Kiva, and the UN Foundation are honoring the day as the kickoff to the season of giving.

Heifer thinks this sounds like an idea whose time has come.

Tell us in the comments box below how you plan to make your holiday shopping this year more meaningful.

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