Gifts that Give Back

Article first published as Christmas Gifts that Give Back on Technorati.

In a season marked by giving, I love the idea of giving back to our community and our planet. This year, my family decided to forego gifts for the adults, and give donations in each person’s name instead. It’s been so fun thinking of each family member and finding ways to honor each of them with a unique donation.

Here are some great ways you can do your Christmas shopping and give back at the same time.

Christmas Snowflake Photo Cards
Buying Christmas Cards this year? Consider the fresh, modern designs at Paper Culture, all done in a beautiful recycled cardstock. For every order, they plant a tree in your name, and if you enter the code ”CA10″ at check out 20%will go directly to the Somaly Mam Foundation to help end human trafficking and slavery worldwide.

The bags and purses from Haitian Creations are handmade by women in Haiti, who are a part of a sewing program that is giving these impoverished women lifelong skills. The ability to earn money gives these women the ability to be self-sufficient, to support their families, and to have the independence they need in a society where this is often difficult.

isanctuary is an organization working to help victims of the sex trade recover and rebuild their lives. They work with young survivors – 12 to 19 year olds, making sure they receive all the elements necessary for restoration, including education, counseling, vocational training, and mental, emotional and spiritual healing. The girls create stunning jewelry that is sold online and in retail stores. You can shop at their retail site.

Kauzbots is a line of 10 plush toy robots – each one with its own “kauze.” 10% of the retail price from each adorable bot is donated directly to the non-profit that is noted on the hang tag. With a wide variety of charities to choose from (including AIDS Walk, Arbor Day Foundation, Lifewater International, and 7 others), you’re sure to find one that touches your heart. Kauzbots are designed to inspire kids to change the world!

Punjammies are adorable sari-inspired pajamas. Each Punjammies are created in an after-care facility for women who have been rescued, released or escaped from a life of forced prostitution. Holistic aftercare involves quality medical care, emotional safety, education and the tools to create a new way of life for herself.

Nuru International – be apart of ending extreme poverty throughout the world. You can give a one time gift, or sponsor a family for a year.

The Hunger Site – If you go under Gifts that Give More on the sidebar, there are a lot of interesting things you can purchase in someone else’s name – things as different as a child’s education for a year or a microloan for a pig or goat.

Rising Tide Fair Trade sells beautiful bohemian style bags of various sizes (weekender bags to hand bags) that are hand made in a woman’s fair trade labor coop in West Bengal, India from re-purposed vintage kantha saris and cruelty-free black or brown suede. The female artisans earn a fair wage that allows them to provide for their families. These bags look like they belong in an anthropologie catalogue.

Krochet Kids offers 3 year programs to women living in poverty. In this program, the women learn to krochet hats to earn an income and be able to fully support themselves for the first time in their lives. Based in Uganda, the hats are sold in the US, on their website andat most Nordstroms.

Rocks in the Sun is a gorgeous photography book filled with Haitian proverbs and photos of this beautiful but impoverished country. It’s compiled by Troy Livesay, who lives in Haiti and does great mission work there (and just happens to be a stellar photog). This would make a great coffee table book, and the proceeds go towards their missions work with Heartline Haiti and Worldwide Village.

31 Bits Jewelry is made out of 100% recycled paper, posters, and magazines by internally displaced women in Northern Uganda. Each piece of jewelry is unique and hand-crafted by a woman in the community of Gulu, Uganda.

Invisible Children is selling bracelets made in Uganda to benefit former child soldiers. Each bracelet is a different color, and each color represents an individual child. These colored bracelets are accompanied by an inspiring short film about a child that has been personally affected by this unrelenting war. Invisible Children is also selling ‘MEND’ bags that are made by former female rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army. They are made in Uganda and each bag has the name of the women sewn inside, and a video of each woman online so that you can ‘meet’ the women who made your bag.

World Vision has an amazing gift catalog where you can buy a number of innovative and sustaining gifts for people living in poverty. Their website even allows you to purchase and print a card letting a loved one know you have donated in their name. You can purchase medical attention for a pregnant woman, a goat that can provide milk to a child – even a grove of fruit trees!

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