We all have people in our lives who are tough to buy for. You know, the ones who have everything they need and buy everything they want.
It sure would be nice to come up with an unexpected gift that shows some thought and a lot of love.
Consider a tribute gift. It takes personalization to the next level by honoring Uncle Jim or Grandma Sue and helping others at the same time.
A donation to Brookfield Zoo is a great way to honor folks who love children, animals or just enjoy nature. Several people may want to go in on a donation. It costs $1,000 for an inscribed brick placed in the Hamill Family Play Zoo's rear garden or for a stadium plaque attached to a seat in the Seven Seas dolphinarium. The zoo has many other ways to offer tribute to your loved one: $1,500 for a tree planting with a plaque and $10,000 for a personalized bench. For more information, call 708-688-8667. Similar opportunities are available at the Lincoln Park Zoo; call 312-742-2171 for details.
Got a nature lover on your list? Give a living legacy by donating a tree to a park district or forest preserve. For instance, the DuPage County Forest Preserve has oodles of tribute giving opportunities. Spend $500 to fund plantings and enhanced landscaping throughout the district and recognize someone with an engraved leaf at the preserve's Wheaton headquarters. For $1,500, a recognition plaque will mark an existing tree, while $2,500 will support a new planting. Tribute benches range from $1,000 to personalize an existing bench to $1,500 for a new handcrafted log bench to $2,500 for a recycled-plastic bench with a concrete pad. Other pricier options from personalized bike racks to information kiosks to mini shelters also are available.
The forest preserve offers tribute gifts at other locations as well. For instance, bricks from $100-$500 support the Mayslake Hall Restoration Society. At the Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn, donations of $75 and up include personalized acknowledgement near an adopted animal's cage. Funds collected pay for the food, medical care and enrichment of the center's animal collection. For more information, call the DuPage Forest Preserve District at 630-933-7097. Call the forest preserve district or park district in your area for other ideas.
Think about supporting area animal shelters in honor of pet lovers. Animal Education & Rescue in Libertyville, 847-816-0831, recognizes donations of $100 or more online with a personal tribute. Call an animal shelter near you for other ideas.
The Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, 847-835-8333, has giving opportunities for gardeners, history buffs, along with music and book lovers alike. Donors can adopt a bonsai tree ($100), dedicate benches ($5,000-$25,000) and other trees ($1,500-$2,500), purchase engraved bricks near the visitor center or along the rose garden walkway ($500-$1,000), sponsor a summer Carillon Concert ($500), pay for a special floral display ($250), buy a book with a personalized nameplate for the Lenhardt Library collection ($50-$250) or restore a rare book (cost varies) for the library's rare book collection (one of the largest in the world). Consider similar options at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, 630-719-7948.
Give a gift to Kohl Children's Museum of Greater Chicago in Glenview for those whose favorite sound is children's laughter. Donations of $25 and up will be acknowledged as part of the museum's 25th anniversary, while commemorative bricks range from $1,000 to $2,500, dedicated benches in Habitat Park cost $5,000 and park trees range from $5,000 to $25,000. Call 847-832-6911 for details.
Also, consider giving to the hundreds of area charities that don't offer personalized tributes, but will have meaning for your recipient. For instance, Advocate Health Care with more than 250 sites offering care in Illinois including 10 acute care hospitals and two integrated children's hospitals, allows donors to target particular departments and programs. Give to provide charity care for the uninsured, to give patients massage, music and pet therapy, or target departments like the addiction treatment program, adult Down syndrome center or cancer treatment. Tribute donations can be made in any amount. Call the Advocate Charitable Foundation at 847-384-3400 for more information.
For those who live for golf or have a special place in their heart for people with special needs, the Sunshine Through Golf Mission offers a perfect gift. For $150 to $500, donors purchase personalized bricks placed on the walkway of the Midwest Golf House in Lemont which brings golf into the lives of people with special needs. Call 630-685-2351 for more information.
Gift givers with any budget can pick the perfect tribute gift for a loved one with any interest by donating a book to their local library. For instance, the Arlington Heights Memorial Library will put a personalized name plate in any book purchased in someone's honor. Consider donating a book of poems, some children's books or travel books on a particular location in honor of a recipient's favorite place. The opportunities are endless.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times