At True Gifts—part of the Bhoomika Trust formed after the Gujarat earthquake in 2001—the gift money is given to an NGO of your choice and you get a voucher that can be presented as a gift. Bhoomika Trust follows up with that NGO to ensure proper use of your money and updates you about it three weeks later. "Bhoomika’s strength lies in linking NGOs, businesses, community-based groups and government," informs programme manager Latha Subramaniam.
Murali’s gift helped meet a month’s expenses of a resident of Adaikalam, a home for mentally ill women, and provide cots and spectacles to the inmates of a residential centre for the aged destitute. "This is your best-ever birthday gift to me," remarked his father. True Gifts charges a nominal processing fee of Rs 50 for gifts of less than Rs 1,000 and Rs 100 for gifts of more than Rs 1,000. Bhoomika and its affiliates are run with the help of donations from the corporate sector.
Like Krishnan, Indira Menon, senior manager at an investment management organisation, was introduced to True Gifts by her sister when she was looking for birthday gifts for her mother. She went on to sponsor a month’s medicine for a resident of Sri Arunodayam’s home for mentally challenged and spastic children, and twenty days of nutritional supplement for 120 children at a day-care centre run by an NGO which helps the poor. "Every year, my mother would chide me for wasting money on flowers and chocolates," says Indira. "This time around, she was overwhelmed."
The idea of a gift store linking NGO programme needs with donor funds was mooted by Jayendra Panchapakesan, a Bhoomika trustee, and Geetha Rajagopal, a volunteer. Subsequently, Shalu Umapathy, a service corps fellow of the American India Foundation, organised True Gifts while working with Bhoomika. "Launched this June, it has already sold 25 gifts and raised Rs 50,000 for various NGOs," reveals Shalu. Gift coupons of Rs 500 to Rs 20,000 can be used to sponsor health-related training for slum girls, a meal at an old-age home, a patient’s dialysis treatment or an NGO worker’s salary. "We want to involve the corporate sector," says Panchapakesan, "where our gifts could be given to celebrate employee birthdays or achievements."
Contact Bhoomika Trust, Apt 3A, 3rd Flr, New No. 40, Murrays Gate Road, Alwarpet, Chennai-600 018. Tel: (044) 24981967/9444451267. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.