Whatever “the Christmas spirit” is, it is decidedly not embodied by the horrible task of spending time and money searching out gifts you’re pretty sure the recipient doesn’t need and may not even want.

It’s a wonderful feeling to find something you know is just right for a friend or loved one. But when you’re stuck trying to find something for the “person who has everything,” why not consider gifting someone else in their name instead?

You’ve heard of buying goats, chickens, or school books for families in developing countries. But one close-to-home opportunity that warms the heart of giver and givee alike is offered by the seasonal Homeless Partners website.

The organization has collected stories and gift requests from residents of shelters in North Vancouver and other areas around metro Vancouver. Here’s a typical story, from Morris:

Morris is in his sixties. He was born in Courtenay, B.C., but has been in the Vancouver area since 1972 for work. Morris worked in sheet metal. His biggest challenge right now is maintaining personal security. It is his family that helps him feel most encouraged.

Morris’s request is for running shoes or jeans. A donor can pledge one or both of these gifts, and drop them off at the housing shelter with a card for Morris (drop-off instructions are provided). There are dozens of other stories on the site, with more added as the month progresses.

So, rather than struggling to find gifts for the “have it all” people in your lives, bring some peace and cheer to your shopping by pledging a gift that you know will be well-used, and much appreciated.

Here’s what one shelter resident said about the experience of receiving a gift through this initiative:

The most encouraging thing is knowing that people care. I find it really encouraging that total strangers could care so much about someone they don’t even know.

If that sounds like the kind of Christmas spirit you’d like to share, visit the Homeless Partners website soon!