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Gifts That Actually Give

By Zoey FitzGerald Kidwell

The holiday season is a complete frenzy. Parents scour malls trying to find last minute stocking stuffers, moms receive coupons for free back rubs, dads get hammers and wrenches, and old candles are re-gifted to co-workers. Gift-giving can be more than a checklist.  If the Holidays are about giving, why not give back to the world? That, of course, doesn’t mean a person has to donate thousands to charity each year. However, there are gifts that, in addition to fulfilling your immediate gift needs, also contribute to helping the world.

One such organization is the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). On their website, there are a variety of different gifts that people can buy, including stuffed animals, shirts, bags, etc. When bought, the money spent goes towards protecting endangered species. Sarah Hayward-McCalla, Winston-Salem resident and mother of three, has personal experience with this organization and loves it. “Our kids choose a WWF animal to gift to each other once a year. The WWF then sends the recipient a stuffed toy of his adopted animals.” She says, “Our boys think it’s the coolest that they have bought meals for gorillas and medicine for giraffe.”

GiftUP is another amazing organization dedicated to helping people find the right gift for a loved one while doing good in the world. Essentially, their website allows you to holiday shop with a personal assistant. It’s simple; you fill out a questionnaire, allow them to find gifts, and take their suggestions. The gifts are creative too. The GiftUP team told the Knight Times, “We didn’t want to be known as gift-givers that give gift-cards or terrible gifts. Online shopping is very easy, but where do you start?…We started GiftUP to simplify gift-giving for our clients. Think of giftUP as an internet search engine, but results are tailored to your recipient, and free of bias.”

Beyond the convenience of GiftUP, they also make sure to give back with the purchases made. “We will be the first to admit that we are very fortunate to have received the opportunity to receive a good education and grow up in a family that loved us. This is something that we are thankful for everyday, and fully realize that not everyone can be so fortunate. For that reason alone, we built a business that had a focus on giving back to the community.”

In addition to the donations made, GiftUP ensures that the gifts being recommended are the best possible quality. According to their website, “We scour the internet, high and low, for the best gifts and websites to provide you with great options every time.” Part of the excellency of these gifts is that they are made with love, and often times, in a humane environment. Many socially conscious online stores also strive to be compassionate with their products.

One non-profit online store is servv.org. With each product bought, they actually empower the artists working for them. According to their website, “Behind your gift is a story–of an empowered artisan or farmer who is supporting his or her family through fair wages and respectful relationships. A story of safe working conditions, more children attending school, and income saved for a healthy future.” Buying a gift from this non-profit is a way to get friends and family unique, beautiful gifts such as clothing, jewelry, or home decor. But beyond the beauty of these gifts, there’s certain peace in knowing they were made in a humane environment.

Other organizations include kiva.org, takemyhanduganda.com, and heifer.org. But giving back does not necessarily have to revolve around donating money. Gifts can be small gestures as well: hand-written letters, taking someone out for dinner, reconnecting with old friends, even passing good energy on to someone in need. It’s easy to get wrapped up in gift giving checklists and the material aspects of the holidays. But ultimately, the holidays are about keeping others in mind and spending time with those you love.

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