Gift giving is my love language.
Seriously. I LOVE to find the perfect gift for the people in my life. I love to surprise them and see the look on their face when I get it right.
But there is a little something else I love to do: give back.
I have a fairly robust list of people I gift – between family, my tribe of friends, colleagues and people I like to surprise spoil. That means I’m constantly on ‘gift alert’…..what would they LOVE? But I also ask myself another question, “Is it possible to spoil the people I adore (or surprise them) AND make the world a little better at the same time.
Why yes, it is.
Because this matters to me, I’ve curated some of my FAVORITE places you can buy for the people you love AND give back at the same time. You’ll find jewelry, t-shirts, accessories and a slew of options your family can commit to – from easing the burden of a family with a sick child, to sponsoring a child in another country to helping to feed little ones right here in the United States to supporting the efforts of a family in a third world country to pull themselves from poverty.
Give Good, Get Good: Gifts that Give
Brave New World Designs– Have I told you that I have brilliant, kind, compassionate friends who are working DAILY for a better world? My friend Christine Koh is one of them. This past year she started Brave New World Designs. I will allow her beautiful words to describe her mission, “Brave New World Designs is on a mission to make the world a little better each day by giving voice to the virtues of creativity, humor, wisdom and love. Our work is part poetry, part adventure, part advocacy and part silly.” I have three of her t-shirt designs in my closet and my small girl has a favorite as well. She wore her ‘Love Fiercely’ shirt to school for picture day and it is PERFECT.
The benefit of giving the intangible – you are blessing someone you love (and possibly that ‘person who has everything’) with the gift of having helped someone in need by your gift in their honor.
No Kid Hungry – I have long been committed to ending child hunger. It shouldn’t even be A THING. And yet, it is. ONE in SIX children in the United States don’t get the food they need. That makes learning, living, just being a kid nearly impossible. Share Our Strength is an organization working to make sure all kiddos get the food they need where they live, where they learn and where they play. I’m happy to join friends like Tim McDonald who have been advocates for this cause for years.
Additionally, through its Cooking Matters program, the No Kid Hungry campaign educates and empowers low-income families to stretch their food budgets so their kids get healthy meals at home.
With a primary mission to help communities to lift themselves out of poverty (for the last 65 years) and make sure the children are granted the gift of experiencing childhood – they have a commitment to the promotion of justice, community development, public awareness, partnering with churches and creating public awareness.
I was gifted the opportunity to meet both of the incredible boys we sponsor – Samanya and Aolyisus.
You can certainly add a child to your extended family this holiday season, but there are so many other ways to give as well – from straight donations to a gift catalog of gifts given in a loved one’s honor.
Some are as little as $25, while others – benefitting an entire community, like a well for water, run $150.
Unbound – This is a gift you can do as a family – sponsoring a child in need in another country. A portion of Unbound’s mission is to ‘see potential, not poverty’. By sponsoring a child as we have (Karen and Jacqueline both live in Guatemala), my small people are learning not only about another culture as they can communicate with both girls, but also what is means to truly give to someone else.
St. Jude – You are likely not a stranger to St. Jude’s Research Hospital in Memphis. I bet you know it is committed to saving the lives of children living with rare forms of cancer. But did you know the doctors, nurses, and staff treat each child and each parent like family?
No matter how long a child receives treatment, no matter how long their family must live in St. Jude’s housing, no matter how far they must travel for the life-giving, life-saving treatment they need, they will never receive a bill – not for medical care, not for housing, not for food and not for travel.
Power of 5 – Two years ago, I visited Zambia, Africa as part of the Power of 5 Program and that experience has never left my soul. There is so much I take for granted. My small people have enough food to fill their bellies every day. They have electricity and education. I sat with mothers who worry daily their children may not make it to the age of five. They worry….are their children getting the nutrients they need to grow and thrive?
Every 30 days, the families I met, along with 200+ other families trek to one of five distribution centers in Lusaka, Zambia to listen to an educational talk, see their children weighed and measured for tracking and pick up their monthly nutrition, their Little Bits, for their little ones.
Heifer International – This is a beautiful way to gift a tangible item that is life-changing for a family in need. For 70 years now, they have been working to combat poverty in some of the areas that need it the most (125 countries around the world) – but not simply by – if you will allow the adage – giving men and women fish, but actually teaching them how to fish. Their goal has long been to provide farmers with the opportunity to learn skills and change their circumstances rather than strictly benefitting from gifts from others.
How do you give back this time of year? I would love to hear any additional ideas you would add to this list.
Happy Holidays! And happy giving.