There was a great article on CNN today about thoughtful gifts for the holiday season. I’m not suggesting you go out and buy something, but if you feel you must you might consider purchasing something that will benefit an artisan, a family, or a community rather than Wal-Mart’s CEO.
Here is CNN’s charitable gift guide with fun, practical — and even edible — presents for almost every kind of person and cause. I’ve adapted Stephanie Chen’s original list to include other websites and only gifts $25 and under. If you know of any more great sites that offer fair trade gifts or support nonprofit organizations, share them in the comments. Happy Holidays friends!
Nest, a nonprofit that provides micro-loans to female artists and then sells their artwork, is featuring brightly colored decorative plates from Turkey for $10 and hand-carved statues from Rwanda for $24.
Ten Thousand Villages is a fair trade retailer that promotes handmade artwork from all over the world. Founded in 1946, the organization started out of a car trunk and has expanded to more than 390 stores in the United States.
The school supporter
If you want the power to customize your gift, giving money to DonorsChoose.org will let you do just that. Most of the public high school teachers that post projects on there are from high poverty areas in dire need of funding.
You can donate whatever amount you want to any project or you can also select a project that needs $25 or less to complete, such as this class that needs books or this class that just needs headphones. In return, you receive a cost report that shows how the money was spent so you can be assured your donation is going to the right place. If you give more than $100, you receive handwritten thank-you notes from the classroom you helped.
Global Exchange is an international human rights organization dedicated to promoting environmental, political and social justice by selling fair trade items.
The animal lover
The Animal Rescue Site donates money to animal shelters with every purchase. You can find a wide assortment of items here from really silly animal items to more eye-pleasing clothing and home decor.
When you purchase that <—— $10 cup, The Animal Rescue Site will donate 14 cups of food.
Heifer International has been working to end world hunger for more than 65 years by donating farm animals, seeds, trees and educational training to families. You can enjoy reading their holiday catalog and decide whether you’d like to donate a water buffalo, a llama, a pig, a hive of bees or flocks of chickens or geese.
For $20, you can purchase a flock of geese for a family or you can provide a family with a starter flock of 10-50 chicks. Some geese can lay up to 75 eggs a year, the nonprofit reports, which means food and extra income for the recipients. The water buffalo is a bigger gift, with a price of $250, but you can buy a share for $25.
If you’re a fan of vintage clothing, then check out Shop Housing Works. The site offers bargains on second-hand designer items.
The money goes to Housing Works, a community-based service organization that works to assist HIV/AIDS patients in New York.
You can find eco-friendly bracelets made of recycled papers and earrings made of seeds at Global Goods Partners, a nonprofit that helps women in Asia, Africa and the Americas. The agency, founded in 2005, provides literacy programs for women and safe housing. If you’re on a budget, the group offers a selection of gifts under $15.
Do you have family and friends with a sweet tooth?
You can satisfy their cravings with gourmet turtles and caramel-covered popcorns, starting as low as $2 from HELP USA. All proceeds will go to this national nonprofit that works to house the homeless and help them become self-reliant. Since 1986, the organization has given assistance to more than 250,000 people by providing shelter and on-site support services.
Grounds for Change is a family owned and operated coffee roasting business located in the Pacific Northwest. All of their coffee is Fair Trade Certified by TransFair USA and certified organic. The vast majority of the coffee they sell is also Shade Grown Coffee which ensures healthy habitat for migratory birds.
Besides the wide variety of coffee available there, you can also buy other tea/coffee related products like this burlap tote for $19.95.
If you’re looking for a stocking stuffer, Biscoff Gourmet Cookies and Gifts is selling its famous crunchy cookies in a festive box. A set of six boxes costs about $15. Ten percent of the proceeds go to support Teach for America, an organization that aids new teachers serving underprivileged kids in low-income communities.
The shoe addict
TOMS, an American footwear company that was launched in 2006 by a participant on the reality television show “The Amazing Race,” has a motive beyond profit: Each time a customer buys a pair of shoes, the company will give a pair to a child in need. The company’s “One for One” mission tries to transform “customers into benefactors.”
These comfy and stylish flats come in dozens of different patterns and colors. Children’s flats start around $35 and adult shoes cost around $55. As of September 2010, TOMS had given more than 1 million pairs of new shoes to children in poverty.
The cancer fighter
Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among U.S. children under age 14, according to the National Cancer Institute.
All the funds from items purchased from the annual “Hope Gift Book” will be given to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a pediatric cancer research center. Parents can find unique gadgets for kids such as a dog shaped pencil sharpener and a Juicy Couture gumball machine for under $25.