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Gifts that Help to Give Back

Updated on July 12, 2015

Giving Back while Giving Gifts: A Win-Win Situation

It's no secret that worldwide economic, political and environmental events mean that there are more people and places in need. One positive side effect is that many organizations have stepped up to make it easier for all of us to help others while also giving gifts to friends, family and co-workers. Sure, you could give the usual Starbucks or ITunes gift card or... you could spend the same $10 and help save a child's life. You could pick up treats from the store down the street or... you could order online where 35% of your purchase goes to help the homeless. And don't forget about the added benefits: You'll feel good, your friend will get a special present that they can feel good about, and you'll be DOING good in the process.

Photo courtesy of Ken's Oven on Flickr.

Bead for Life
Bead for Life

Bead for Life Jewelry

Bead for Life is an incredible organization that started when two women from Colorado met a Ugandan woman who was rolling paper beads near her home. After learning there was no place for the woman to sell her beads and that her only income was made by crushing rocks in the hot sun all day, the Americans bought a few beads and took them back to Colorado. When their friends began clamoring for the beads, they realized that not only could they develop a market for the colorful beads, but also help the plight of the women back in Uganda. The result is Bead for Life - a beautiful line of necklaces, bracelets and earrings - all incredibly made from recycled paper. The group has also recently expanded into making shea butter products.

And talk about gifts that give back. Since that chance meeting in 2004, Bead for Life has helped over 800 women learn to make beads and earn a regular income, built 132 homes, two wells and abundant gardens, launched a vocational education program for poor youth and inspired more than 85 similar organizations.

Any of the Bead for Life products would make beautiful gifts, even more so knowing what an impact they're making in the developing world. In addition, for this holiday season they have teamed up with Equal Exchange and created gift sets that will benefit women in Uganda and the Congo. Visit www.beadforlifestore.org or click on the link.

Here's a short video about how the beads are made.

Orvis Men's Sweatshirt
Orvis Men's Sweatshirt

Orvis

Orvis is a brand that has truly stood the test of time. It has been making outdoor clothing, hunting and fishing gear and home accessories for over 100 years. It also is committed to the environment and actively supports conservation efforts by donating 5% of their pre-tax profits to qualified organizations. Their current campaigns are working to help environmental causes from the Florida Everglades to the Coral Triangle.

Visit the Orvis Store to pick up items, such as their best-selling men's Signature Sweatshirt, for everyone on your gift list.

Elephants at the Watering Hole
Elephants at the Watering Hole

Adopt an Elephant

Yes, you read that correctly. You can adopt an elephant for your friend or loved one through The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Fostering Program. This conservation organization, founded in 1977, helps save the lives of elephants and rhinos who are orphaned when their mothers are killed, mainly for their tusks. You may have seen the group featured in Disney's 2011 release "Born to Be Wild," narrated by Morgan Freeman.

I received this as a gift from my best friend last Christmas and it is one I enjoyed the entire year. In addition to helping the vital work of the Sheldrick Foundation, for a minimum $50 donation your giftee will receive a fostering certificate with a profile and photograph of your elephant, a map showing where the orphan was found, a monthly watercolor and updates on your orphan as well as the other elephants in the program.

Nothing But Nets Donation

Nothing but Nets has a simple motto: Send a Net, Save a Life. Make a donation to Nothing But Nets in honor of a friend or loved one, and you'll both have the chance to save a child from malaria. While we in the West think of malaria as something so foreign, the reality is that a child dies from the disease every 45 seconds. This can be easily prevented through the use of an insecticide treated malaria net. For just $10 each, Nothing but Nets (part of the UN Foundation) is able to purchase, send and teach the recipient how to use one. Amazing. They'll even send an e-card to the honoree.

This is a great gift for birthdays, holidays, and special occasions. In fact, I first learned about this organization from a friend of my daughter's who asked people to make a donation in lieu of birthday gifts for her.

CamelBak Groove Water Bottle
CamelBak Groove Water Bottle

CamelBak Groove Water Bottle

Most of the developed world takes for granted the availability of clean drinking water. All we have to do is turn on the tap and there it is. But for nearly a billion people around the world (that's one in 8) access to water is severely limited or nonexistent.

But you can do something to help while checking another gift off your holiday list by purchasing the Limited Edition CamelBak Groove Bottle. $10 from every bottle purchased supports the Water.org mission to find clean water solutions for developing countries. The 20 oz. bottles are available in stainless steel or BPA free plastic.

You can order your bottles through the Water.org site or follow the Amazon links below.

M-A-C Viva Glam Melt Your Heart Set

M-A-C is one of the only make-up lines that I use and has been for years. Not only do I love the colors and packaging, but it's one of the only lines of lipstick that doesn't cause an allergic reaction for me.

In 1994, the M-A-C AIDS Fund started the Viva Glam line to support men, women and children living with AIDS/HIV around the world. The 2011 line was inspired by the incomparable Lady Gaga, while 2014 features Rihanna.. You can buy them individually, or track down the Melt Your Heart Set includes pink and nude lipsticks with a rocking red metallic make-up bag. The $36 set is available at M-A-C, Nordstrom, Macy's and other stores around the country, or click on the link to buy directly from the M-A-C store.

EVERY CENT of the sales price of Viva Glam lipstick and lipglass is donated to the M-A-C AIDS fund.

Lucky Brand Medallion Toggle Bracelet
Lucky Brand Medallion Toggle Bracelet

Lucky Brand "Suzani" Medallion Bracelet

For nearly 50 years, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital has been working to find cures and prevention for pediatric catastrophic diseases. It truly is a pioneer in the field of pediatric research and treatment. You can help their mission by purchasing this beautiful medallion bracelet which has been custom made for St. Jude's. The Lucky Brand "Suzani" bracelet has an antique gold finish, with the organization's logo on the back, and comes in a velvet gift bag. Pick up the matching earrings and ring for a complete set.

Want to do more to help St. Judes?

St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital has an online shop brimming with gifts for everyone on your list, including the kids. Some of the items start at just $2.99! Why not give hope while giving gifts?

Visit St. Jude's Hope Gift Book today.

More Gifts that Help to Give Back

There are so many worthy causes out there I thought I'd provide a few more links that can help you give back while you gift.

Thanks for Visiting Gifts that Help to Give Back - Please let me know you were here

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      What you sow... so do you reap! Helps to give out a bit!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      warm felt article, thank you for the write up.

    • profile image

      entertainmentev 5 years ago

      I love gifts that give back!

    • curious0927 profile image

      curious0927 5 years ago

      Bless you for sharing! Wonderful causes and great ways to give!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Such a wonderful lens. What you make happen for other people, often finds you to have great success.

    • Mozaika profile image

      Mozaika 5 years ago

      These are truly wonderful gift ideas! I am adding this page to my Lovely and Unique Christmas Gifts lens. {I love the Adopt the Elephant one, really!:)}

    • SiochainGraSonas profile image

      SiochainGraSonas 5 years ago

      Thank you for sharing. Wonderful lens.

    • Mistl profile image

      Mistl 5 years ago

      Great gift ideas. I love the adopt an elephant one. :)

    • profile image

      miaponzo 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this with us! Blessed!

    • DogWatchColumbus profile image

      DogWatchColumbus 5 years ago

      I know where I'm buying Christmas gifts from next year!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      How excellent and thank you for new ideas for giving back...blessed!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is a wonderful article, very inspiring.

    • Julia Morais profile image

      Julia Morais 5 years ago

      Great lens. I'm all for Gifts that Give Back.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      I didn't want to spend anymore time with squidoo today but this caught my eye and it was so good! I loved the Ugandan bead work - I had forgotten how to purchase from them, now I know!

    • profile image

      zeyty01 5 years ago

      All of these are truly great ideas! Good work :-)

    • TheHealthCabin profile image

      TheHealthCabin 5 years ago

      Fantastic ideas that i would never of thought of! Thank you.

    • Gayle Mclaughlin profile image

      Gayle 5 years ago from McLaughlin

      I love this article. I love the entire idea behind this! What a wonderful way to give back! Squid Angel blessed!

    • TheLittleCardShop profile image

      Malu Couttolenc 5 years ago

      This is one of the most beautiful articles I've read. What a wonderful idea to buy a present while you help other. Gifts that help you give back is the way to go, there are so many people in need and we often forget abou them.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 5 years ago from United States

      Fabulous compilation! I absolutely love the idea of buying gifts from stores that make donations to worthy causes for each purchase! I had not seen the bracelet for St. Jude. It is beautiful! And, of course, I love the elephant pendant! So many great charities and what a wonderful way to help them! Thank you for writing this article. I only wish I had seen it before I bought most of my Christmas gifts for this year. Of course, there are always birthdays and next Christmas :)

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      It's like you read my mind. I love to give and receive gifts that are donations to important causes. There is nothing material that I need. I'm hoping more and more of my friends and family members will choose to do this as a gift-giving alternative. Thank you for introducing me to some new opportunities to make a difference. Very much appreciated!

    • profile image

      aishu19 5 years ago

      It is amazing to find ways to give back to the world. And to do that in the form of a gift...simply wonderful...

    • ThatsYourPeople profile image
      Author

      ThatsYourPeople 5 years ago

      @indigoj: Well said, Word Custard. We all have so much stuff that we really wouldn't miss. Most of us can afford to give up a few lattes or one weekly manicure to help make life better for someone else.

    • SoniaCarew profile image

      SoniaCarew 5 years ago

      This is just an amazing lens! I love it so much.

      It is a wonderful concept, and touches every human rights nerve in me!

      Thank you!

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 5 years ago from UK

      I think in an ever more commercial world it is important to support gifts that give back to those less fortunate, two-legged or four. Though the economy is tough everywhere, most of us do have the essentials of life plus more than a few toys and luxuries, and don't really need yet more 'stuff'. Charity gifts are a great idea for those of us who can do without. You also have some that are a great compromise -- they give to the receiver and to charity too.

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 5 years ago from California

      I am very impressed! This year I really want the Holiday to be about giving a gift that helps someone, or something make life a bit better. You have offered several different solutions, a few of which I had heard of, but some I hadn't. Yes, giving gifts that give back surely is a wonderful thing.