Research shows that giving back makes oneself happier and healthier. For those who want to give a special gift with great meaning, it's wise to shop for gifts that give back, by choosing companies that are socially responsible. Also, with the current uncertain economy, market condition, and high unemployment rate, some may feel guilty about holiday shopping when so many are struggling with basic, everyday needs. Thanks to gifts that give back, you can feel good about supporting a cause, while the recipient will appreciate the considerate, loving and generous gesture.
Below are twelve wonderful gifts that make your dollars count and help those who are less fortunate (in alphabetical order).
1. Barn Buddy Sponsorships: Perfect for all animal lovers, because Barn Buddies are rescued farm animals that live at Longmeadow Rescue Ranch. It is one of the country’s top rescue, rehab and adoption facilities for horses and farm animals located on 165 rolling, wooded acres in Union, Missouri and is operated by the Humane Society of Missouri. On any given day there are around 350 farm animals (ie., horses, goats, sheep, ducks, geese, chickens, cows – a pot-bellied pig, mini donkey, llama) that have been neglected or abused that live at the Ranch and receive care. The Barn Buddies have made several national TV appearances and have sponsors from around the world and throughout the U.S. Sponsorships help feed, board and provide medical care and loving attention for the rescued animals so they can recover and be adopted. Barn Buddy sponsorships (starting at $25) come with a photo and bio of the animal and a certificate of care. Plush animals are included for $50 sponsorships and above. There are 17 different Barn Buddies to choose from so there are lots of options for animal lovers of all kinds.
2. Bissell: A family-owned company that boasts of creating products that effectively and easily deep clean the home (ie., red wine, mud, pet accidents) also works with animal welfare organizations. Billsell is the leading name in carpet, floor, upholstery products and has started a Pet Foundation in 2011. Under the Pet Foundation, is Partners for Pets, which helps consumers give back to a shelter. For ex., when you shop for pet products on bissell.com, you can choose from among 200 shelters to receive proceeds from your purchase! In addition to the Partners for Pets program, the Bissell Pet Foundation awards numerous grants every year to organizations working to reduce the homeless pet population through adoption, foster care, microchipping, spay and neuter programs, as well as puppy mill rescue efforts. The holidays are right around the corner, so check out the SpotBot Pet Deep Cleaner which is perfect gift for pet lovers, or the DeepClean Premiere Deep Cleaner which is a time savior for perfectionists who want only professional results.
3. Bridgewater Candle Company: Light a Candle Feed a Child program helps feed orphaned children. Every jar of candles sold will feed an orphaned child for a day though its partnership with the non-profit Rice Bowls. Bridgewater Candle recently launched a new inspirational collection called, Inspirations for Life and partnered with licensed artist, Caroline Simas of Multiple Blessings. The tall jar candle in the collection will also be a part of its Light a Candle Feed a Child program. For all the candle lovers out there, be sure to look into the various fragrances that Bridgewater Candle Company has to offer here. Bridgewater Candle's Lavender scent smells especially relaxing and soothing, and will transform any bathroom into a spa escape. Also, check out this inspirational video for more information about Light a Candle Feed a Child program.
4. Build-A-Bear Workshop: The Build-A-Bear Workshop have lots of loving, furry friends that give back. For example, the Red Panda ($24) benefits the World Wildlife Fund to protect endangered animals and their habitats. Build-A-Bear Workshop Bear Hugs Foundation has donated $2.3 million so far to WWF through the sale of Red Panda and other WWF donation animals. The Golden Retriever ($22) and Pug ($22) are part of the Bearemy’s Kennel Pals line up. They benefit domestic pet programs like local animal shelters, stray pet rescue and rehabilitation organizations and pet education programs across the country. More than $5 million has been raised through Bearemy’s Kennel Pals. Champ, a Champion Fur Kids ($18) helps support children’s health and wellness charities. To date, the sale of Champ has raised ~ $1.1 million. Paperback Pup ($18) gives back to literacy and education programs throughout the United States and Canada. This furry friend, and others, have helped raise $2.1 million for these types of programs. It's so important to teach children to give back, so this holiday season, be sure to give a Bear Buck$ gift card to allow kids to make a cause animal themselves. This is a great way to build the bond with a child, all while teaching the importance of charity.
5. Children’s Art Project at MD Anderson Cancer Center: All proceeds from the sale of their products, featuring pediatric cancer patient artwork, fund patient programs that help children go on with their lives during and after treatment. Wonderful holiday products you'll find are, but not limited to: aprons for girls and adults, bowls and spreaders, cats and dogs treat jars, glass ornaments and tabletop figures, holiday cards and envelopes, iPhone covers, kitchen towels, lunch bags/coolers, mugs, soap dispensers, totes, and vanity trays. This fall marks Children’s Art Project at MD Anderson Cancer Center's 40th anniversary of making life better for children with cancer. In its 40 years, Children’s Art Project at MD Anderson Cancer Center funded ~$30 million in programs, and this year it funded ~$600,000 in programs so Children’s Art Project at MD Anderson Cancer Center's products really do give back.
6. Love with Food: With this website as a platform to connect food producers with consumers, founder and CEO, Aihui Ong realized she can use this as a means to help underprivileged children. From her research findings, there are in fact more than 16 million children in America that are at risk of hunger. That’s more than 1 in 5 children that need a helping hand in order to thrive. For those who enjoy organic, all natural snacks, Love With Food will deliver to your door every month. A subscription membership starts as low as $10 per month. Every month, Love With Food members will receive a curated box of unique, hard-to-find tasty snacks which varies based on seasonal themes. For each box of Love with Food purchased, the company donates a meal to food banks all across the country to help combat childhood hunger. Food banks include Feeding America Network and Share Our Strength - No Kid Hungry.
7. Magnolia Bakery: For all those who love fresh and yummy cupcakes and cakes, fruit pies, cheesecakes and creamy whoopie pies, Magnolia Bakery is a must try, because its delicious baked goods will be sure to make anyone smile. The famous bakery boasts of making each dessert by hand on the premises throughout the day! In addition to classic American baked sweets, its philanthropic efforts are very generous. Magnolia Bakery makes daily donations to local food pantries, and has partnered with more than 650 individual charities, including the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Autism Speaks, NRDC, Michael J. Fox Foundation and Susan G. Komen Foundation. In addition, Magnolia Bakery has worked with over 200 schools and numerous programs that support children and families. The holidays are here, be sure to check out Magnolia Bakery's desserts and gift packages online and in stores throughout Hanukkah and Christmas. Starting at just $15.00, a sampling of Magnolia Bakery's holiday gift packages are detailed below:
- BROWNIE AND BAR FAVOR BOX $15 Four delicious reasons to send this favor box to someone special. Includes one of each: chocolate chunk brownie, peanut butter toffee bar, chocolate chunk blondie and a magic cookie bar.
- HAPPY HOLIDAYS! COOKIE ASSORTMENT $72 Celebrate the season with a selection of some of our favorite festive cookies. One dozen sno-balls, crinkles and chocolate chunk.
- WINTER CUPCAKES $24-$39 Our classic vanilla and chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream and edible snowflakes are an ode to the season.
- CHRISTMAS CUPCAKES $24-$39 After you open your presents, indulge in one of our Christmas cupcakes: vanilla and chocolate with vanilla buttercream and festive Christmas decorations.
- HANUKKAH CUPCAKES $24-$39 Kids (and grown-ups) will love this assortment of vanilla and chocolate cupcakes, topped with vanilla buttercream and edible Hanukkah decorations.
- COOKIES FOR SANTA ASSORTMENT $35 When Santa comes down the chimney, treat him to some of our favorite holiday cookies. Package includes one dozen snickerdoodle, gingersnaps and sugar.
- MAGNOLIA BAKERY HOLIDAY CARDS $18 Send holiday greetings with our handcrafted, vintage-inspired cards. Each box contains 12 cards in four unique designs in celebration of the season. Envelopes included.
8. Mud Pie: This is an award-winning manufacturer of innovatively designed and affordably priced gifts. Based in Stone Mountain, Georgia, the company is comprised of 3 divisions: Mud Pie Baby, Mud Pie Living and Mud Pie Fashion. Celebrity parents like Guilianna Rancic, Mariah Carey, Perez Hilton, Kourtney Kardashian and Kyle Richards have been spotted with their little ones in Mud Pie. Mud Pie baby socks benefit the March of Dimes year round, so be sure to gift them for Halloween, Christmas, Easter, birthdays and baby showers. In addition, check out Mud Pie's affordable fashion and living items, all under $100, and Mud Pie is available through 16,000 specialty retailers. Mud Pie gives back to help children with cancer by funding educational, emotional and recreational programs for the patients, such as: March of Dimes, Toys for Tots, Our House, K.I.D.S. (Kids in Distressed Situations), Arkansas Children's Hospital, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, Gift for Life, Mary Hall Freedom House, and Gateway Center.
9. Snox Socks: Created by Makena after she was admitted into the hematology floor at CHOC, the Children's Hospital of Orange County for a 4 inch blood clot in her arm, she wanted to give back. Makena created non-slip Snox Socks in multiple fun and young colors. Makena donates all profits to charity, and she had already donated to various causes including Action Against Hunger, Direct Relief International, Remnant International, and Crossroads Rhode Island.
10. TripIt - Thanks to TripIt, a leading mobile trip organizer from Concur, travelors can conveniently organize trips in one place on a smartphone or tablet. This personal travel assistant sends status alerts and alternate flight options, storing frequent flyer miles and helps save money on flights. TripIt is socially responsible in giving back via Make-A-Wish. TripIt is adopting a wish through the Greater Bay Area chapter of Make-A-Wish, and is sending Grady, a boy with aplastic anemia, to Disney World in April 2014. TripIt is encouraging all travelers to donate unused or extra frequent flyer miles to Make-A-Wish to help send more children on wishes, as 70% of all wishes involve travel. The TripIt Pro product has a point tracker to help travelers sort out their miles and find which to can be donated. The donation page is bit.ly/tripitwishmiles.
11. Trooper Book: This is geat for children, teachers and Trooper fans. Trooper’s Triumphs is a children’s picture book about a brave puppy that survived a bad accident and learned some valuable lessons as he miraculously recovered. The story, told from Trooper’s perspective, is a conversation starter about the importance of compassion and respect towards animals. A Trooper Plush Pet also is available. Proceeds from the book and other Trooper merchandise are donated to the Animal Cruelty Fund, dedicated to investigating, healing and preventing animal abuse -- and support one of the largest animal rescue teams in the United States, the Humane Society of Missouri’s Animal Cruelty Task Force and Disaster Response Team. The book and plush are $15 each, and the book/plush combo is $25, so they make great stockings stuffers. Also, join Team Trooper’s worldwide fans on www.facebook.com/TeamTrooper and help spread Trooper's words, “there’s no excuse for animal abuse!”
12. Urbansitter: Children are our future, and any organization that works to protect and improve our children's well being is socially responsible in all aspects. All busy parents know the gift of quality childcare is priceless. Urbansitter is founded by a mom, and is the first online service to find and book a trusted sitter through existing connections and affiliations. Leveraging Facebook to help parents find sitters through friends means that trust is built in. Parents can see reviews and recommendations from friends, and can search for sitters simply by availability or by specific skills and qualifications (i.e. speaks French, is CPR certified and has experiences with special needs). They can also book in real-time and pay online or via the site or mobile app. In addition, Lynn Perkins, founder and CEO is a great resource on a number of parenting and childcare topics, if you’re ever looking for sources or content (i.e. How to score a sitter for New Year’s Eve; The top five most common mistakes parents make when it comes to childcare; The babysitter checklist every mom should have on her fridge; What to look for in a sitter; etc).