December 13, 2012
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Gifts that Give Back

If you haven’t yet wrapped up your wish list for the 2012 holiday season, you may want to consider a charitable gift that makes giving feel twice as nice.  The ideas listed below will put smiles on the faces of your loved ones as they unwrap their presents, and will also give hope and relief to people in need around the world.

Have you already picked all of your presents for Hanukkah or Christmas this year?  No problem!  These gifts are available year round and would make wonderful presents for birthdays and celebrations in all seasons.

Something for Everyone On Your List
If you want to find something for everyone on your list – while giving back with each and every purchase – visit GiftsThatGive.com.  Simply select the cause that you love, and then shop ’til you drop, knowing that $1 will be donated for every $5 that you spend.  You can choose from over 1 million Guidestar-approved organizations to receive your donation.  These include well known worthy causes like St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the American Red Cross – as well as lesser known but equally worthy local causes, which you can search for by city, zip code, or category (education, arts, mental health, etc.).

As for the gifts that are available through the site, the options are endless!  Shop by category or by brand to find the perfect present for every personality.  Purchase a  Lily Pulitzer laptop tote for $34, and $6.80 will go directly to the charity of your choice.  Buy a Fab Dog fashionable sweater for your furry friend for $45 and $9 will be donated to your favorite foundation.  Grab personalized golf bag tags for the golfers on your list for $30 and $6 will go to the cause that is close to your heart.  Learn more at www.GiftsThatGive.com.

Stylish & Satisfying Soles
Giving a pair of shoes to a barefoot person living in extreme poverty can change that person’s life.  Many children in developing countries grow up barefoot, which exposes them to soil-transmitted diseases and leads to cuts and sores that can become infected and limb-threatening.  Not having shoes also prevents many children from attending school, as shoes are often required as part of a school uniform.  If children don’t have shoes, they don’t go to school.  If they don’t receive an education, they don’t have the opportunity to realize their potential and lift themselves out of poverty.

Several shoe companies have recognized the profound impact of a simple, sturdy pair of shoes, and they’ve decided to do their part in making a difference throughout the world.  Toms was one of the first shoe companies to embrace the one-for-one concept, and their promise to donate one pair of shoes for every pair that is purchased has led to the donation of over two million shoes worldwide.  Learn more about this incredible company – which also happens to make stylish and extremely comfortable shoes – by visiting www.toms.com/how-we-give

Beautiful Beads – and So Much More
Just take a moment to browse through the gorgeous jewelry and accessories at SameSkyShop.com, and you’ll be tempted to buy something special for everyone on your list – and then for yourself, as well.  From the Chardonnay Prosperity Bracelet to the Persimmon Hope Necklace to exquisite Silver Cuff Links, the pieces are stylishly simple and yet make a statement – in more ways than one.  Same Sky is a trade-not-aid initiative that employs HIV positive women in developing countries.  Trained as artisans, Same Sky women earn 15 to 20 times the average Sub Saharan wage to hand crochet beautiful glass bead jewelry.  100% of net proceeds are reinvested to train and employ more women in need – so you can be sure that your purchase is going to a worthy and sustainable cause. 

Athletic Gear with a Greater Purpose
If you have an athlete on your holiday gift list this year, he or she is probably already a fan of the high-performance athletic gear made by Under Armour.  Athletes will feel even better about the Under Armour line of products that give back to the Wounded Warrior Project, an amazing organization whose vision is “to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history” by providing unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured soldiers.  The high-tech, moisture-management fabric of the Wounded Warrior Project Polo is the perfect gift for your favorite golfer.  The Wounded Warrior Project Hoody, with a warm and yet lightweight interior and fast-drying outer layer, is sure to please those who love to hike or bike on a cool afternoon.  Or, if you’d like to give a gift to the Wounded Warrior Project in a loved one’s honor, you can purchase the WWP Backpack Gift to make an immediate difference in the life of a newly-injured warrior.  The backpack, which is full of essential gear as well as information about WWP’s innovative and vital program offerings, will be personally delivered to the bedside of a Wounded Warrior.

Blanket America
Who doesn’t love a cozy new blanket?  The gift of comfort is always sure to please, so visit BlanketAmerica.com to give double the comfort and joy this year.  For every purchase of a blanket (or a number of other household goods, like pillows, sheets, comforters and towels), Blanket America will donate a blanket, one for one.  The company’s goal is to work towards ending extreme poverty, and they are taking steps toward this goal not only through their donations, but also through their choices of how and where to manufacture their products.  “From designing, to sourcing and sewing, the manufacture of (Blanket America’s) products represent an opportunity to help communities with jobs at home and abroad. Working together, we are helping people build a brighter economic future.”  To learn more, visit www.blanketamerica.com/about-us.

Ten Thousand Villages
One of the world’s largest fair trade organizations and a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), www.tenthousandvillages.com strives to improve the livelihood of tens of thousands of disadvantaged artisans in 38 countries around the world.  Gorgeous tablecloths handmade in India, glass bead wind chimes crafted in Ghana, and amazonite stone earrings made in Peru are just a few examples of the truly unique gifts on this website.  These presents will feel just as good to give as to receive, since every purchase from this site creates opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by practicing time-honored traditions in arts and crafts.

These are just a handful of the wonderful ways that we can give back with our gift purchases this holiday season – and all year long.  If you have a charitable gift idea that you’d like to suggest, please share it with us by adding a comment below.  Happy holidays!