Two of the most terrifying words in December: holiday shopping.
With packed parking lots, crowded streets, overburdened sales staff and herds of frenzied fellow procrastinators, it’s hard to keep the spirit of the season in perspective with a gift list that seems to grow longer as the number of days until they’re to be delivered grows shorter.

That’s why the American Diabetes Association, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, M.D. Anderson Hospital, the Cystic Fibrosis Society, and many other nonprofit health organizations are your new best friends.

Of course there are many worthy charities, and those named here represent only a small sample of the organizations that exist to serve others.

Santa’s elves couldn’t assemble a greater range of gift possibilities — all of them accessible by telephone or online.

And every one of these potential presents ends up benefiting not only the family member or friend you’ve bought it for, but also the many individuals across the country whom the organization serves with its health education, disease prevention or research activities.

It’s a shopping opportunity that started small several decades ago, but is now garnering the attention — and enthusiasm — of more and more shoppers looking for gifts that not only help them meet their own gift-buying needs but also help provide the gift of health and life for others.