Gifts that Go Further, Volume 2

The holiday season is upon us.  Can you believe it?  Already?  Where did my carefree summer go?

Image via Margot Madison

Finding the perfect gift can be stressful.  But remember the spirit of the season is about kindness, gratitude, generosity.  Not the collection of crappy stuff.  So here’s part two to Gifts that Go Further.  Last year’s list included elephants and birth certificates, it’s simply amazing what shape philanthropy can take!

Support Work in Our Communities

826 National and its Chapters

Inspirational print from 826 for the aspiring writers on your list.  Image via Higher Ground Learning

Who doesn’t love 826 National and its Chapters, the Dave Eggers founded nonprofit that lends the aspiring writers among our youth an encouraging hand?  Whether it’s their free tutoring services available in the unique spaces of their 8 chapters in under-resourced urban centres in the US, their after school and in-school programs that support teachers and students alike, or their scholarship fund, these good folks are investing in kids and education.  You can make a donation in someone’s honour online, or you can buy a gift and have it sent to your writer friends, young and old.  And if you live in an area that’s lucky enough to have a chapter, stop by their storefront!  The one in Brooklyn is a Superhero Supply Store, retailing everything from capes to invisibility potions.

Santa Wouldn’t Forget the Kids in the Hospital

Image via Mona Leisa, a holiday stocking maker. Visit her Etsy Shop

Christmas is at its most magic in childhood.  You can help ensure that magical spirit is thriving even for kids who find themselves in hospital over the holidays. Why not give a santa stocking to a sick kid in a friend’s honour? They’d have to be the truest scrooge to not be touched and honoured to be part of something so special.

Check with your local children’s hospital foundation to see if they offer a program you can support. Otherwise, Starlight Foundation in Canada and Sick Kids Foundation in Toronto offer these and other equally touching directed donor gifts.

Hooray for the Underdog

Image via Hooray for the Underdog.  Visit their online store to purchase your holiday cards.

If you’re an animal lover, or have many on your recipient list, consider holiday cards from Hooray for the Underdog. This line of cards, stationary, prints and pet tags feature beautiful and heartwarming images of rescue animals. The photography of Janet Healey and Joe Grisham of HealeyGrisham Studios celebrate the spirits and second chances of these special animals and also donate a portion of their proceeds to animal welfare groups and shelters.  A wonderful choice for your seasonal holiday card or to top off that perfect gift.

The Global Village

Adopt an Endangered Animal

Image via Polycat

From seals and seahorses to lions and tigers and bears oh my!, the Word Wildlife Fund (here in Canada) offers adoption of animals from more than 100 species who face extinction.  With these symbolic adoptions you can also send pictures,  info cards, adoption certificates and plush animals, while your donor dollars support the protection of these animals and their natural habitats.

The Peanut Butter Project and Other Gifts of Hope Through Plan International

Plan to change the world this holiday season with a Gift of Hope (here in Canada) from this international aid organization that operates in 66 developing countries, giving families the tools they need to break the cycle of poverty.

The Peanut Butter Project is a new one this year offered through the Canadian Chapter.  With protein and fat hard to come by in many diets around the world, peanut butter offers vital, vital nutrients to growing bodies.  If that weren’t reason enough to support this initiative, funds directed to this project also support women’s peanut growing cooperatives which provides skills training in peanut farming, processing and business development.  In Canada the Peanut Butter Project is also matched: each $35 donation is matched by other organizations for a $525 value.  Gifts of hope can be purchased in your loved ones’ honour, with cards (electronic or print) sent to the recipient with information on the initiative they’re supporting.

Fair Trade Gifts

Image via Unity Fair Trade Marketplace

Of course you can simply buy gifts that are produced in a just and sustainable way.  Whether that’s locally and independently produced art or something from further afield, there’s lots to socially conscious gifts options.  The online shop, Unity Fair Trade Marketplace offers unique handmade gifts from all over the world for just about everyone on your list.  Stylish decor? Teas and coffees? Toys and musical instruments? check, check, and check…

Charity Gift Cards from Canada Helps and Charity Navigator

And if you’re really truly stuck, try the gift of giving with a gift card from Canada Helps or Charity Navigator and let your recipient browse through lists of registered charities and decide where funds could be best used.  Now that’s some productive online shopping!

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