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Gifts That Give Back

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The gifts on this page are special. They are gifts to the people who will receive them, but also serve the greater good of making the world a better place. Before giving a charitable gift, think about the recipient. What do they do? What is important to them? A teacher might like a donation to an education charity, while a businessman might appreciate a gift of a microloan for an aspiring business in a developing nation. The mother of a sick child might appreciate a donation to a charity fighting that illness. Here are some ideas to kick-start your charitable giving. The list will be updated as I find more unique, thoughtful gifts, so please check back.

NOTE: Many of these gifts are available at Amazon.com. An Amazon Prime membership will get you free 2-day shipping, plus unlimited streaming of thousands of movies and free eBooks. Our Prime membership saves us tons of money all year, but particularly during the holidays when we do more online shopping. Plus, 2-day shipping is awesome and convenient. Get a FREE 30-day Amazon Prime trial now!

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Donation: Any amount

Many of us have been touched by cancer, or know someone who has. I experienced it firsthand when my daughter, shown in the image above, was diagnosed with childhood leukemia. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is at the forefront of the battle against blood cancers, and the work they are doing is important. Make a donation today in honor of a loved one.

Help Sea Creatures with Oceana: Any amount

There are organizations all over the world working to protect wildlife. Oceana works to protect the ocean and its inhabitants, and you can help. Give a special gift — the adoption one of the sea creatures the group fights to protect: sharks, dolphins, killer whales, polar bears, penguins, sea turtles, octopus or seals. The recipient will get an animal cookie cutter and a personalized certificate.

Make-a-Wish Donation: $5 & up

The Make-a-Wish Foundation is near and dear to my heart. In 2010, my daughter was diagnosed with childhood leukemia. Make-a-Wish grants a single wish to children who are battling life-threatening illnesses, and in 2011, we experienced firsthand the magic that this organization is capable of creating when they sent our family to Disney World. It was an experience we my daughter will cherish forever. Give the gift of a wish to a child, and do it in the name of your recipient.

PACT organic cotton underwear: $7-30

These are NOT your mother’s underwear. They are bold, graphic and anything but boring. These men’s and women’s undies are available in a variety of styles, including bikinis, boy shorts and thongs, and each pair is inspired by a social or environmental cause. They are made of organic cotton, shipped in a compostable envelope, and 10% of every sale goes to Pact’s non-profit partners. (aff)

Macy’s Heart of Haiti Products: $10-85

Heart of Haiti is a collection of art, housewares and accessories handmade by Haitian artisans that was launched after the earthquake in January 2010. They receive 22% of the retail price for each item, and many items are made of recycled materials, including oil drums, newspaper and more. Haiti may no longer be in the headlines, but its people still need help. Give gifts from this collection and give back to Haiti.

Kiva Cards Gift Certificate: $15-2,000

While business startup costs are often high in the U.S. and other developed nations, a small microloan of even just $15 could change the life of a person in a developing nation who is trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. Kiva Cards certificates allow the gift recipient to fund a loan of their choosing. Then, when the borrowers repay the loans, the repayments can be used by the gift recipient to make even more loans. It’s a gift that keeps on giving!

Dsenyo Fair Trade Handbags: $18-60

I discovered Dsenyo about a year ago and immediately fell in love with their story. This awesome company offers Fair Trade bags handmade by women in Malawi and is designed to empower these women by offering them a means to sustain themselves and their families. Plus, they make every effort to use low-impact dyes and sustainable fibers like hemp and organic cotton when they can. What’s not to love?

FEED Bags: $20-300

These pouches and bags were created in support of UNICEF’s nutrition programs to help children receive the vitamin and mineral supplements they need to survive and thrive. Each sale will help UNICEF supply meals, nutritional supplements, school meals and more to children all over the world. Some bags are made of materials organic cotton and hemp, and some are made by artisans in the countries they will help.

Operation Smile Donation: $25-2,400

Every day, Operation Smile works to save children from a lifetime of pain, shame and isolation. Give a gift that will help provide a surgery for a child suffering from cleft lip. It is a gift that will literally change lives, all in the name of someone who is special to you.

TOMS Sunglasses: $88-179

TOMS shoes and their One for One initiative are legendary. They’ve now expanded to add a line of stylish sunglasses. While the shades are not sustainable in and of themselves, the concept behind them is one of social responsibility. For every pair sold, TOMS will help give the gift of sight to a person who needs it, via medical treatment, prescription eyeglasses or sight-saving surgery.


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