I love giving gifts. All of it—the shopping, the hunt for the perfect item, the joy on someone’s face when you totally nail it, everything. Something I love even more? When a wonderful gift also gives back to the world.
I work at a non-profit, and one of the programs I volunteer with here is our local Holiday Giving, which provides gifts to local families in need, individuals in our mental health or recovery programs, and moms and kids at our domestic violence shelter. Doing this has drastically changed my perspective on gifts for myself. While I still love to shop for others, I have a harder time every year when people ask what I want. I don’t need anything, and I see so many people around me struggling to put food on their tables. That’s why I love the gifts on this list. There are wonderful organizations doing so much good in the world, so why not get cool gifts and help them out at the same time?
If I have to wear pants, then pajama pants are my preference. If I could live in them, I would. The colors and designs on these pj’s are so fun and vibrant. On top of the cuteness factor is this, from their website—”PUNJAMMIES™ are loungewear trousers made with hope by women in India who have escaped human trafficking. Whenever you purchase PUNJAMMIES™, you invest in the freedom and dignity of these women and girls who are working to forge a new life for themselves and their children.”
Seva International has been around since 1978, providing vision services around the world. From their website— “There are an astonishing 39 million people who live in darkness around the globe. The extreme majority of people who are blind live in the developing world, 90% to be exact. Perhaps the most incredible statistic is that eight out of ten people who are blind could see again if they simply had access to an eye doctor(source: World Health Organization). Since 1978, Seva’s Sight Program has helped nearly 3.5 million people to see again!”
While there are multiple gift options, and I believe all are as deserving and important as the next, one to consider is the “Opportunities for Women and Girls” gift. This gift “empowers by supporting Seva’s work with girls and women in Asia, Africa, and the Americas, including American Indian communities in the United States. Women and girls will regain their eyesight in countries where women are twice as likely to suffer avoidable blindness as men.”
I take clean water for granted every single day. I’d like to claim it is mostly unconscious, but really, do I need to fill up my cereal bowl to soak with water before I wash it? Leave the faucet running while I brush my teeth? So many little things that I would never do if I had to trek three miles to gather a gallon of water.
Charity Water is fighting back against the fact that “diseases from water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.” There are a number of gifts on their site, all which go towards funding and growing the organization.
“In rural Uganda, a lack of feminine hygiene products, sanitation facilities and reproductive education means that school-aged girls often miss school because they are not equipped to manage their periods and face teasing and shaming. When a girl misses too many school days, her academic performance suffers and she is very likely to drop out of school altogether.” Yeah, it was embarrassing that one time in 6th grade when I started my period wearing light colored jeans and ended up with a huge bloodstain on my crotch. That is nothing compared to these young women, ladies who are missing out on their education because they don’t have access to basic menstrual hygiene. Kind of makes the Diva Cup battles on every period article seem a little frivolous, no?
Malala Yousafzai is a fucking badass. The grace and presence of such a young woman, particularly one who would be completely justified in being angry and bitter, is awe-inspiring, and she has captivated the hearts of millions with her plight. Consider giving her memoir and a contribution to The Malala Fund in the name of a teen in your life that you are inspired by, or one that might need a little inspiration.
Gifts That Empower
Oxfam and Heifer International both have programs set up that “help create lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and injustice.” Gift people around the world with an animal, seeds, manure, mosquito nets, midwife training, disease prevention kits, the list goes on and on. Helping people better their situations and pull themselves out of cycles of poverty and struggle is awesome.
Lush has partnered with Vivienne Westwood to offer this beautiful scarf that can double as gift wrap for the intended recipient. From Lush’s website— “All profits from the Knot-Wraps will go to create a Climate Revolution Fund, where individuals, groups and charities can apply for money to fund activities that communicate or mitigate climate change.”
The World Wildlife Fund works “to conserve the world’s most important natural places and significantly change global forces to protect the future of nature.” From tigers and panda bears to remote rain forests, your contribution will support an organization striving to save the planet’s most precious resources from destruction.
Same Sky provides “jobs globally for women struggling to lift themselves out of poverty.” 100% of proceeds are reinvested in training and employing more artisans in need. Knowing that your jewelry was created by women improving their lives and those of their families is pretty awesome.
Bead For Life is similar to Same sky, provding jobs for women in Uganda living in poverty to lift themselves out by creating beautiful pieces of jewelry and other products. Support helps them create more jobs and help more women improve their lives.
Do you give to certain charities at the holidays? Do you have a favorite? What are your feelings on people giving to charity in your name in lieu of a gift? Share in the comments!