Work & Purpose

Holiday Gifts That Give Back

These gifts show those you love that you care about the world, too

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Holiday Gifts

Credit: Pexels

Having trouble figuring out what to give your grown children this year? Try focusing on gifts that give back.

Did you know you can stand up for gender equality by buying a soccer ball in your daughter's name, for example? Or help the homeless by giving your son some comfy socks?

Read on for gifts that promote literacy, keep vinyl out of landfills, support sustainable farming, encourage fair trade, help people find meaningful work and more.

1. For the Soccer Fan

Credit: planusa.org

Gift: Donate a soccer ball to a girl’s team in El Salvador

Organization: Plan International USA

Cause: Gender equality

Price: $25

How it helps: Like many children’s sports leagues, Plan’s girls’ soccer leagues encourage values of sportsmanship such as teamwork, respect, leadership and inclusion. But giving a girl in El Salvador a soccer ball and a uniform also does something else: it helps girls step out of poverty by fighting sexism. Leagues for both boys and girls “confront sexist attitudes that have excluded girls, encouraged violence and perpetuated the cycle of poverty for many families in El Salvador,” states the organization on its website.

More info: planusa.org

2. For the Business Owner

Credit: relan.green

Gift: Branded tote bag

Organization: Relan

Cause: Reduce landfill waste through upcycling

Price: Varies

How it helps: By recycling your company’s vinyl billboards or banners into useful items such as these handy, sturdy tote bags, you help reduce the more than 600,000 tons of non-recyclable vinyl that make their way to landfills in the United States each year. And if you don’t have banners of your own to recycle, Relan will provide materials for you.

More info: www.relan.green

3. For the Bibliophile

Credit: littlefreeelibrary.myshopify.com

Gift: Prairie Two-Story Library

Organization: Little Free Library

Cause: Literacy

Price: $285

How it helps: This is the spendiest gift on our list, but you have to admit it’s a pretty reasonable price for an entire library. The idea of Little Free Libraries is simple: “To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.” By setting one up, you’re contributing to the organization’s goal of building more libraries than Andrew Carnegie.

More info: littlefreelibrary.myshopify.com

4. For the Smartphone Addict

Credit: ashandrose.com

Gift: Tegan texting gloves

Organization: Ash & Rose

Cause: Employing at-risk women

Price: $28

How it helps: Like many of the fashion items sold on this women-owned online boutique, these gloves help at-risk women in impoverished places earn a fair wage. These texting gloves are handmade by women trained and employed by Kumbeshwar Technical School, a fair trade organization in Lalitpur, Nepal.

More info: ashandrose.com

5. For the Coffee Drinker

Credit: peacecoffee.com

Gift: Three-month coffee subscription

Organization: Peace Coffee

Cause: Fair trade and sustainable farming

Price: $75

How it helps: When you sign up to have two 12-ounce bags of Peace Coffee delivered to your coffee-loving loved ones every month, they’ll not only get to savor a variety of organic fair-trade roasts but also know they are helping preserve and protect the environment while supporting small farms.

More info: peacecoffee.com

6. For Those on the Go

Credit: bombas.com

Gift: Four-pack of socks

Organization: Bombas

Cause: Homelessness

Price: $48

How it helps: For every pair of Bombas socks you purchase, one pair is donated to a homeless shelter. Why? Because socks are the most requested clothing item at shelters. In addition, the donated socks are specially designed — with anti-microbial treatments, dark colors and reinforced seams — for people who walk a lot, sleep in their shoes and don't have the luxury of wearing a fresh pair of socks every day.

More info: bombas.com

7. For the Techie

Credit: techdump.org

Gift: Refurbished electronics

Organization: Tech Discounts

Cause: Employment for economically-disadvantaged adults

Price: Varies

How it helps: Thinking of getting that student on your list a laptop? Refurbished computers not only save you money but also help keep electronics out of landfills. And when you buy from Tech Discounts' online Amazon or eBay stores, you’re also supporting the Jobs Foundation, “a nonprofit providing job training and practical experience for adults facing barriers to employment.”

More info: techdump.org

8. For the Shoe-Obsessed

Credit: allbirds.com

Gift: Wool runners

Organization: AllBirds

Cause: Sustainability

Price: $95

How it helps: Your gift recipients will get “the world’s most comfortable shoe” — a fashion-forward sleek-looking “runner” made of merino wool and castor-bean-based green polyurethane. Meanwhile, you get to know you’re supporting sustainable farming, animal welfare and a shoe company with a small carbon footprint that supports soles4souls, which provides shoes for those in need.  

More info: allbirds.com

9. For the Bicyclist

Credit: houseoftalents.com

Gift: Asungtaba Oblong Bike Basket

Organization: House of Talents

Cause: Economic independence in Ghana

Price: $61

How it helps: When you buy these hand-woven bicycle baskets, you know where your money is going: to villages in northern Ghana where a young basket weaver rallied his community to replicate his beautiful high-quality baskets so children in their communities could afford to go to school.  

More info: houseoftalents.com


By Heidi Raschke
Heidi Raschke is a longtime journalist and editor who previously was the Executive Editor of Mpls-St. Paul Magazine and Living and Learning Editor at Next Avenue. Currently, she runs her own content strategy and development consultancy.@heidiraschke

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