Have you been staring at your Christmas shopping list thinking “I don’t know what to buy Aunt Ida…she is so hard to shop for!” Or, “what in the world do I get Grandpa Joe, he has everything!!” Or maybe you’re just thinking, “if I give my husband one more tie he might divorce me.” In the endless aisles of big box stores selling the same ol’ stuff, why not think outside of the (big) box and give gifts that are unique, quality, and maybe even hand-made (by somebody else, so don’t panic)? Why not give gifts that give hope and freedom and education and lifeblood? Because really, who needs another coffee mug?
So here it is, my list of five great companies and organizations that not only offer amazing products, but are having a real impact on the world.
1. Khaled Hosseini Foundation – If the name sounds familiar it’s because Khaled Hosseini is the exceptional NY Times Bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. Hosseini was born in Afghanistan and is passionate about fighting to resolve the refugee crisis in his country of birth. So he established the Khaled Hosseini Foundation to provide humanitarian support by building shelters for refugee families, and providing economic opportunities, education, and healthcare for women and children of Afghanistan.
Hosseini’s foundation partners with Zardozi — Markets for Afghan Artisans, an Afghan non-governmental, non-profit organization that employs Afghan women artisans living in refugee camps who make jewelry, purses and bookmarks. These unique hand-crafted items are gorgeous and the profit from all sales is put back into Zardozi so they can continue to employ these women — many of whom have never before been allowed to earn their own income. To see these beautiful products and shop online, visit their site here: http://www.khaledhosseinifoundation.org/tkhf-products.php
2. Sevenly – A company that is changing the world, one t-shirt at a time, Sevenly was founded in 2011 by four people who had a vision to bring together great art, the basic t-shirt and funding for the world’s most important causes. Every week Sevenly partners with a different charity to create one-of-a-kind “cause art” that celebrates the unique work done by each charity. They print the art on high-quality t-shirts and sell them on their site, giving $7 of every purchase back to the organization. To date they have raised nearly 4 million dollars. And these are not your average t-shirts! They are truly stunning works of art. Check out their current t-shirt designs and scratch a few folks off your Christmas list (and maybe sneak in a few for yourself): http://www.sevenly.org
3. International Princess Project – It is estimated that there are more than 3 million girls and women enslaved in India’s sex trade. Most are either kidnapped or sold into slavery as children by their own family (the average age of girls entering the sex trade is 11). After an eye-opening trip to India, founder Shannon Keith rallied some friends and the International Princess Project was born to help put an end to sex trafficking in India. I first heard about IPP and their flagship product, Punjammies™, three years ago and immediately bought several as Christmas gifts (aaaannnnddd might have put them on my Christmas list).
The primary focus of IPP is to offer women being rescued out of slavery a new trade, well-paid work, housing, and a support system so they don’t end up back in the sex trade due to social stigma or poverty. Their top product is the Punjammie™, pajama pants made out of beautiful fabrics inspired by the colorful saris worn by most Indian women. They are not only fun and unique, but very comfortable, too! To shop Punjammies™ or learn more about IPP, visit their website: http://shop.intlprincess.org (while you’re there, pick me up a pair of the Bhavani full-length pants in an xxl).
4. Feeding America – Trying to do Christmas on a budget this year? How about Christmas gifts for $1 — and I’m not talking cheap cr@p bought from the dollar store! Did you know that $1 can provide ten meals?! TEN MEALS! You can’t even get one happy meal for $1! But the folks at Feeding America know how to make a dollar stretch and they work with food banks across the U.S. to get food to over 46.5 million people, including 12 million children every year. All you have to do is go on their website, choose the amount (seriously starting at $1) and you can even have an eCard sent to the person whom you are giving in honor of. With gifting this easy you can get one for every neighbor on the block!
For more information, visit the Feeding America website here: http://www.feedingamerica.org
5. Noonday Collection – If you’ve been reading my blog for a while or are friends with me you know how passionate I am about this company and the work they are doing. So passionate, I used to be an ambassador (fancy term for sales rep/storyteller). If you haven’t heard of them, Noonday works with artisan groups in economically vulnerable communities throughout 10 different countries to create economic empowerment through living wages and fair trade. They also offer no-interest business loans, education scholarships, and emergency disaster relief.
Noonday sells a variety of hand-made, unique products from jewelry to scarves to purses. And when I say the products are unique, I’m talking necklaces and bracelets made out of up-cycled artillery shells and an evening bag made out of VHS and cassette tape! You can learn more about Noonday or shop here: www.noondaycollection.com
These are just a few of my favorite places to shop for gifts that “give back” and I know I’m just barely scratching the surface. So I’d LOVE to hear about some of your favorites and add a few new ones to my list.