ok. ok. I know it's still 2 months until christmas. but I love the holiday so much that when the air starts getting crisp and the year starts winding down, it's hard not to start getting sentimental and longing for the joy that encompasses all that christmas is.
christmas is so many things, and one thing. joy to the world, the lord has come. let earth receive her king. I celebrate for one reason, and that's to rejoice in the birth of our savior jesus.
for god so loved the world that he gave his one and only son.
he gave. and so, we give too.
we do as he did.
christmas is a season of heart-giving. (ok. it should be a season of heart-giving). my love language is giving - I love to show people how much I care for them by giving them things I know they will like. things that will make them happy. a note. some cookies. or an extravagant gift I know they wouldn't buy themself.
I love to give. and I am also passionate about giving to the causes I care about. I've been know to bemoan misguided giving... see my open letter on facebook to hilton hotels in the aftermath of haiti, and my twitter rants to don miller about seeking donations for a feature film to be made. not much gets under my skin faster. I've also got to be careful not to (shop) and give too much, to be able to pay my bills each month!
so in the spirit of the upcoming season of giving, as you're seeking and scavenging online and in stores for the perfect gift, I wanted to compile a short list of some of my favorite organizations and companies that you can give to or buy from - and also get something back.
because isn't that one of the hard things about "making a donation in someone's name" to an organization. you really want to hand something, to give something, to the person you're honoring too. or maybe that's just me.
you too? well, then I hope these ideas help!
the A21 campaign
I found out about this organization through christine caine, who is a global ambassador for hillsong church, when I heard her speak at newspring church earlier this year. christine is passionate about abolishing sex-trafficking of women and this organization is her platform. they run safe houses and rehabilitation centers in vulnerable areas of the world to protect and give new life to these precious women. the campaign has created a key 2 free necklace that you can get with only a $15 donation to A21. I think it's simple and lovely, and the symbol of the key always makes me think of unlocking the future and freedom possible for these hurting women.
kiva gift cards
kiva is a micro-finance loan organization that supports developing world entrepreneurs. small donations of at least $25 per gift are added into a crowdsourced fund to meet the loan request from the entrepreneur. kiva offers gift cards so that you can donate $25 or more, and give the card to someone else, who can then enjoy the gift of giving themselves. the recipient can browse on the kiva web site by country, gender, and type of business. for instance, you could support a bus driver in africa or a cosmetics saleswoman in peru.
ok full disclosure. I found out about 31 bits by reading tenley molzahn's tweets about them. tenley - anyone with me? she was on the bachelor... anyway, she got me interested in what the heck she was tweeting about (marketing goal accomplished!) so I checked it out. it's a company out of california that sells the beautiful ugandan bead necklaces you have surely seen before. they're doing a nice job of marketing, and have a lovely web site that tells the stories of the women who make the jewelry. I ordered the mallory white bracelet for only $10! pictured below. and it came in a cute little pouch made of colorful african fabric. so, you can give someone the gift of this piece of jewelry and support women artisans in uganda. that's a deal.
I mean, this listing was inevitable. not only for their famous buy-one-give-one strategy, but also because of my endless love for TOMS. here's the deal. they're trendy, affordable, super comfortable, and when you buy one they give one to a kid who needs shoes. you don't have to convince anyone that's a winner. I even bought some for my mom already. they have some awesome new designs out this season. I love the plain jane classic black and grays. I also LOVE the new map design they partnered with charity:water on. so, not only does a kid get a pair of shoes, but they also donate to charity:water to help build wells in ethiopia. nice. and BONUS - world vision is a TOMS partner for distributing shoes to kids. more on world vision below.
world vision gift catalog
you are very likely familiar with world vision's campaign to sponsor children in need around the world. it's only $35 a month and you should do it. I sponsor luis in colombia. he's 2 and lives in one of my favorite countries in the world. and my donations are going to help him have a better life. he's darn cute too. but I digress. because world vision also has a gift catalog that they do in the spring and at christmas. you can give to all sorts if different programs, like education, agriculture, clean water, and disaster relief. one of the cool things about world vision's gift catalog is that they also have little goodies that you can get back for your donation. like for instance, you can make a a donation and get the lovely thai bracelet below. so, consider making a donation in someone's name, giving them the honor card AND this awesome bracelet. now that's a cool gift.
this one is for the locals. for my friends who live in and around nashville and franklin, TN - my favorite boutique in downtown franklin is philanthropy. the store is 1. affordable and 2. focuses on fashion that gives back. it's full of candles and t-shirts and bags and necklaces and other goodies that all have a deeper purpose that just their prettiness. their products are often associated with a good cause, which makes it double fun to shop there. check out their web site and their blog, and give them some shopping love if you happen to be perusing downtown franklin with your sweet cece's in hand! you might pick up these brand new bags made from recycled coffee bags, or a franklin flood t-shirt.
wine to water
I just learned about this candle company. I am obsessed with my house smelling yummy (see previous post on favorite smells for the full story) and I love that this company has engaged in giving back. they have made these beautiful special edition "solitude" candles. you can buy them online for only $20. each one has a child's handprint on the outside of it, and the child's story on the inside that you have helped to feed for one week. one candle equals one week of food. they're simple and lovely, smell amazing, and feed kids. great idea.
the mercy house
I learned about the mercy house kenya from following sweet, christian blogger kristen welch at www.weareTHATfamily.com. the mercy house is a home that serves as a safe-haven for pregnant girls in the slums of kenya. I love an organization that cares for girls on the vulnerable fringes of society and shows them love and helps makes them whole. they have some lovely things for sale in their etsy shop (search for shop name wearethatfamily) such as unique, colorful, beaded necklaces.
the body shop
the body shop, makers of every girl's favorite body butter and fabulous makeup, has partnered with ECPAT and the IOCC to combat and raise awareness for the issues of sex-trafficking and exploitation of children and young people. they are offering "soft hands, kind heart hand cream" in stores and online, with 100% of net profits going to these organizations and the cause. at a price point of $7 and $10 - these would make a great stocking stuffer for a good cause. and they smell good too!
amani ya juu
how could I forget about amani when making this list? a late addition but a great one. I found out about amani because samaritan's purse partners with them in africa. here is info from their web site about them: Amani ya Juu (meaning “higher peace” in Swahili) or Amahoro ava Hejuru (in Kinyarwanda) is a sewing-marketing-training project for marginalized women in Africa. The main center is located in Nairobi, Kenya with sister centers in Rwanda and Burundi. The women involved in the project are learning to work together through faith in God who provides a higher peace that transcends ethnic differences. these are two of my favorite items on the site right now. check out the bag and bracelet below!
just found out about this non-profit on twitter a few weeks ago. they empower women in africa to make lovely scarves to provide them with income and help break the cycle of poverty. the fashionABLE mission is to create sustainable business in africa so that the women are not dependent upon charity, but instead are a vital part of the developing economy. the scarves are named after the women who crafted them. they are offering 3 different designs right now, with more to come soon, very likely. I love the meselu which is handmade in africa of 100% cotton and lovely blue and grey stripes.
I know that these gifts will bring joy to your gift recipient, and also bring joy to the world.
now, that's a gift.