I am a big fan of this concept. I mean, I appreciate the importance of emergency relief in disaster areas. However, I don't think continuously giving people money/food is good use of time and money. Rather, we should educate and empower people so they can make a living (i.e. make enough money to live on) for the rest of their lives.
“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime”
One organization that is very good as this is Heifer International. Heifer reaches out to depressed areas of the world and teaches people to farm in a sustainable way. They may give a family a few animals to get started and the know-how to care for the animals and create a business. The best part is that recipients of the animals commit to "passing on the gift" to another family in the community. For example, if there is a new baby goat, this is passed on to the neighbors. This way, it is really a gift that keeps giving.
Heifer has a great gift catalog where you can select to give (among other critters) a cow or a llama or a flock of geese in honor of a loved one. We like to do this around Christmas time and for birthdays. You can also fund a project, which is what we did this month.
It's a really neat organization. Check it out!
Ending Hunger, Caring for the Earth