For Women & Co. by Gerri Miller
As the saying goes, it's always better to give than to receive -- and it's even better when the gift itself gives back. In this season of conspicuous consumerism, there are many shopping options that have a charitable component, funding a specific cause or even allowing you to designate the recipient. Here's a list of gifts I've found that give back:
Gifts That Give
Gifts That Give donates $1 for every $5 spent, and you can choose the charity from a database of over a million causes. You can shop by brand, category or price, potentially crossing off everyone on your list. The colorful Fomash Boa scarf ($38), Present Time photo frame clock (multi-color, $50; aluminum, $130), Urbanears headphones ($60), Jellycat plush animal toys ($19 and up), and Fab Dog Swarovski crystal collars ($42 and up) are just a few of the hundreds of items available. In the sale section, you'll find a Jonathan Adler laptop sleeve ($17.37), Lily Pulitzer note cards ($9), and Seda France candles ($20.40). Can't decide? Virtual gift cards start at $25.
31 Bits is the socially-minded business that employs Ugandan women and helps empower them through educational programs and community outreach. For sale on the site are colorful beaded necklaces ($24 and up) and bracelets ($12 and up) made from recycled paper and other locally-sourced materials and are eco-friendly and fair trade.
Toms donates one pair of shoes to a child in need for pair sold to a paying consumer. The casual, fabric-footwear line has a Glitter style that's festive for the holidays (women $52, kids $42, tots $34).
Ethical Bean Coffee
For the java lover on your list, Ethical Bean Coffee is certified organic, fair trade and comes in eight varieties at $11.99 per bag. Each December, a portion of sales is donated to the non-profits Child Aid and Project Somos.
Josie Maran Cosmetics
Model-turned-makeup mogul Josie Maran bills her line of organic and natural skin, hair and cosmetic products as "luxury with a conscience" -- she partners with several causes on specific products. A portion of sales of Bear Naked Wipes ($12) supports the National Resource Defense Council's efforts to save polar bears, and her Argan Oil ($14-$96) is manufactured in Morocco at co-ops that employ, educate, and help empower women. You'll get free shipping on orders of $25 or more.
Still stumped? If your friends or loved ones have a favorite cause, you can make a donation to a charity. Some popular ones are the American Cancer Society, Alzheimer's Association, or American Diabetes Association in their names.
Some donations come with a gift. For example, donate $50 to the World Wildlife Fund and choose from a great selection of clothes and accessories. Virtually adopt a sea creature at Oceana, or sponsor the U.S. National Park of your choice and get goodies including photos, fact sheets, and plush toy animals. Other charity sites have practical items for purchase, such as the American Red Cross, which sells first aid kits ($10 and up) and emergency radios ($40 and up).
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