Give a Gift That Keeps Giving: Shop for Charity this Holiday Season

A few years ago, Kyle and I started a pretty cool holiday tradition. While attending college full-time and working part-time, we were both on a tight budget. Like many couples, we set a spending limit on our Christmas gifts to each other so our wallets wouldn’t be stretched too thin. I first wrote about how we budget for the holidays in this post from last year. The most meaningful part of this tradition for me was that a portion of our spending limit has always been allocated to charitable donations. Every year, we each make a donation in the other’s name to a charity that is important to us. It is really important to me that even while we had very little to give, we maintained the practice of donating to organizations that worked to help those who were less fortunate than us.

I have noticed a trend over the last few years of gifts connected to charitable causes. This allows you to give an actual material gift to the special person on your list, and also support a charity whose mission you believe in. You may have seen Product (RED) items in various retailers, or you may be familiar with companies like TOMS that use a portion of the proceeds from product sales to fund charitable work. Last year, Kyle and I honeymooned in Colorado and while there, we picked up a bunch of soup kits from the Women’s Bean Project to give to family and friends for Christmas.

WBP1

The soup kits are made  by women in Denver, CO who are chronically unemployed, and the proceeds from the sale of these products go to support programs that help women develop the skills they need to get and keep a job. WBP2

Of course we picked up a few mixes for ourselves too, and I can attest to their deliciousness. If you would like to try them, you don’t have to fly to Denver like we did. You can order these and other gifts online at the Women’s Bean Project store. If soup, dip, and baking mixes and gourmet foods aren’t your thing, or if you’re shopping for a loved one whose interests lie outside of cooking, here are some other ideas for gifts that keep giving this holiday season.

BeadforLife is a Fair Trade Federation organization that helps Ugandan women sell their handmade jewelry to earn a living wage. Their online store features beaded jewelry, loose beads, shea butter body products and more.

GreaterGood.org is a website that compiles product listings that benefit multiple organizations. I love that this site allows you to Shop by Cause, so that you can choose to shop from the Hunger Site to fight world hunger, the Animal Rescue Site to fund food and care for rescued animals, the Breast Cancer Site to fund mammograms for women in need, the Rainforest Site to protect endangered habitats, or purchase from other stores that benefit causes including Veterans, Autism, Diabetes, or Literacy.

You are probably already familiar with TOMS shoes, which donates one pair of shoes to a person in need for every pair you buy. Did you know that TOMS also has an Eyewear division that provides prescription glasses to U.S. middle school students in need? Shop for really cute sunglasses at the TOMS online store to support this cause.

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has teamed up with Lands’ End this year to produce hundreds of items in their online store for which Lands’ End will donate 20% of revenue to LLS. Items can be personalized with logos and monograms, as well as the LLS “Someday is Today” logo if you would like.

The ASPCA online store has a ton of great gifts for pets and pet-lovers, with or without the ASPCA logo. Some of my favorites include the DJ Cat Scratching Pad  (<- it is so worth it to click that link) and the Anti-Puppy Mills Tote.

The International Princess Project is an organization that provides much-needed resources to women and girls escaping sex slavery in India. The women are rehabilitated in sewing centers, where they produce clothing for sale in countries around the world and work to achieve lives of hope and dignity. Punjammies is a fun line of loungewear produced by the women in IPP sewing centers to fund their programs.

Shop the Product (RED) store to fund HIV/AIDS programs in Africa. Partner brands agree to donate 50% of revenue for these items to The Global Fund, and 100% of the money raised by The Global Fund goes to fighting AIDS in Africa, with the goal of eradicating the disease.

To see more ideas and links to sites that make giving back easy, check out my Pinterest board, Gifts That Give Back!

Advertisements

Welcoming Winter Weekends

My four day weekend is coming to a close, and I am probably as relaxed as I will be this whole month. With the purchase of our new home, a move to a new neighborhood and the Christmas holiday all ahead of me this December, I decided to take some extra time off to get relaxed, focused and ready. Here’s hoping I will make it through December gracefully.

I woke up Friday morning feeling sluggish, but I still laced up my hiking shoes and went out with Kyle for coffee and a leisurely hike around our future neighborhood. There was a little chill in the air but it was perfectly sunny and the scenery was beautiful.

That afternoon, Kyle and I went out for veggie sushi at Sticky Rice. Then I headed out for a haircut and color, and spent a lot of time reading and trying not to fall asleep in the salon. I think I was really wiped out and needed a break!

That evening I just lounged around the apartment and tried to rest. I had felt off all day so I tried to do as little as possible. I woke up Saturday morning feeling refreshed. I bundled up and headed out to the local coffee shop for breakfast sandwiches and coffees. Then Kyle and I walked about a mile to the Richmond Christmas Parade on Broad Street. I knew we would have fun, but I was surprised at how entertaining the parade really was. I always thought this parade was very targeted at families with small children, but we really enjoyed watching the floats, balloons and performers march down Broad Street.

Spotted:

Harlem Globetrotters

No BS Brass Band and the Richmond Flying Squirrels

Some very skilled Hula Hoopers

Storm Troopers

My Alma Mater, VCU

And Rudolph was back this year, with a large Band-Aid after last year’s incident (I highly recommend that you click on the link for the footage).

We walked home after the parade and I prepared for Real Housewives Tea with my two best Richmond girlfriends. Modeled after the RHBH Tea Party, this event featured tiny sandwiches, delicious sweets, and wine. Yes there was tea, but we stayed true to the Housewives episode and made sure that no one drank it, in favor of a little bubbly instead. The only difference was that we left the drama at the door.

We had as much fun as you would expect to have while drinking cava at 3:00 on a Saturday afternoon, donning enormous hats and dripping in (costume) jewels. What’s not to love about that? It was truuuuuly loooooovely to catch up with these ladies and I had a deliiiiiightful time.

I spent Sunday and Monday running errands and making plans in preparation for the remainder of this month. There is still a lot of shopping, planning, baking and packing in store over the next three weeks. But I’m not too worried about it. I’m actually kind of excited, since I’ll be doing it all with my best friend.

Ready, set, go!