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

Farmers’ Market 06.04.11, Garden Update, Team in Training

Sometimes we drive through the Byrd Park area to get to the farmers’ market. Yesterday we saw this while making our weekly drive (soon-to-be bike ride).

How very crunchy.

How very Virginia.

I arrived at the market after 10:00 this Saturday, which is a little late for me. I blame the mojito marathon I participated in on Friday night. When you come into a pound of mint for $7.00, you have to find creative ways to use it. My solution involved limes, soda, and Bacardi select. And suddenly seven friends appeared at the door – funny how that works.

Kyle joined me at the market for the first time this year, and we had a great time chasing ibuprofen with iced coffee and bagels, running into some friends and coworkers, and selecting produce from our Victory Farms CSA share.

Here’s the loot!

Every time I bring the Italian to the market, we get twice as much pasta than I would have bought without Kyle’s influence.

  • Broccoli (CSA)
  • Cilantro (Pleitez Produce)
  • Chidori kale (CSA)
  • Kohlrabi (CSA)
  • Red potatoes (CSA)
  • Black pepper linguine (Bombolini Pasta)
  • Dill shells (Bombolini Pasta)
  • Summer squash (CSA)

Some of the spring produce is phasing out (strawberries) and we are seeing more of the summer produce coming in (squash). I love looking back on my farmers’ market posts over the last year to see when certain fruits and vegetables start popping up at the market. It is also cool to see what is in season in different parts of the country by reading other blogs and chatting with my friends in different states. I would love to showcase what’s growing around the country (and world?) in a compilation post.

Show me what’s up at your local market! If you would like to participate, please send photos to vegologyblog [at] gmail [dot] com to get featured!

And now for a patio garden update…

Gardenology Update

I took these photos on Saturday. It has been three weeks and I haven’t killed anything yet!

My first tomato!

Flowers on the jalapeno plant- no signs of peppers yet.

 

The herbs have had a rough start but they're hanging in there!

Baby cilantro - I think this is a good sign?

I just looked back at my initial gardenology post when I first potted the starter plants, and I can’t believe how much the tomato plant has grown! I’m crossing my fingers that it continues to thrive in the little nook of sunlight that it calls home.

Team in Training Event

In other news, my Dad is participating in his second century ride today. He is riding the 100-mile America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride in Lake Tahoe with his Team in Training team. Dad started to be a serious cyclist last year at the age of 52 and rode in his first century ride last October. He rides for an amazing organization called Team in Training and he raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, ranking as a top fundraiser for the state of Maryland in both the Seagull Century in October 2010 and the AMBBR in June 2011.

Dad did a warm up ride yesterday and posted this photo from the ride on his facebook page. Simply beautiful.

Credit: Nick McDonald

Dad has already started raising money for his third century which will take place in October of this year. He will complete the Seagull Century on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in just four and a half months. I am beyond proud of him for his determination in both cycling and raising money for LLS, and I look forward to getting the news that he has safely crossed the finish line later today, and cheering him on in person later this year.

If you are interested in finding out more about Team in Training and LLS or you would like to make a donation, please visit Dad’s fundraising page.