Last year, I wrote a guest post on the lovely Robyn Webb’s Fabulous Food Finds blog about 5 holiday gift ideas tied to food and charity. Between Black Friday, Cyber Monday, the long list to Santa, it often feels like we’ve become very removed from what the spirit of the holiday season is all about. While I’m not suggesting skipping the presents altogether, I believe that if we are fortunate enough to buy a slew of gifts, then we are well enough off to give a little back, especially this time of year.
Each day this month, I’ll add a new food gift idea that gives back and will also tweet about it under hashtag #GiftsThatGive. If you have any great finds or suggestions that fit the bill, please leave a comment below or tweet me at @tspbasil.
Here’s to making that gift list a bit more giving this year!
1) Women’s Bean Project
For years, I’ve been buying bean soups for holiday gifts from this wonderful program which assists women who are down on their luck develop employment skills to help break the cycle of poverty. As a result of working for this gourmet food house, these women become self-sufficient and positive role models to their families and community. Today, they offer everything from spice rubs to jelly beans, but their fantastic soup and chili mixes are what started it all. Check out all the different offerings (jewelry too!) at: www.womensbeanproject.com
2) Common Threads
This non-profit group’s purpose is to link family with good, nourishing food – a universal connection that we all can relate to no matter where in the world we live. Through cooking classes, Common Threads invites low income children into the kitchen to teach them about nutritious, delicious food and so much more. Their cookbook “Eat The World: Good-For-You Food For Families” is a wonderful resource for kids and adults alike. Check it out at www.commonthreads.org
3) Mercy Corps
For over 30 years, Mercy Corps has helped to save and improve lives in some of the world’s toughest places by assisting in building safe and secure communities. Their programs provide food, water, education, good health, agricultural development and many more basic necessities that most of us are lucky enough to take for granted. The gifts page is unique and inspiring – you can match your gift receiver (daughter, teacher, friend, etc.) with their interests (food, gardening, health, etc.) to select the perfect donation option. As their motto says, Be The Change.
4) Help USA
With a mission to help get homeless back on their feet and become self reliant, Help USA provides housing and other supportive services to help break the cycle of dependency. Their H.E.L.P. Comfort Foods line (we’re talking grey salt dusted “Salty Turtles”) make for perfect, indulgence stocking stuffers
5) The Hunger Site
As part of the GreaterGood Network Stores owned by CharityUSA, The Hunger Site features dozens of gift items with a portion of every sale funding organizations that feed the world’s hungry. They make a point to offer sustainable and fair trade goods – there’s something here for every person on your holiday gift list! Visit www.thehungersite.com
A most sobering statistic – close to 1 BILLION people around the world lack clean water. Water.org provides long-term solutions for poor communities to access safe water. This holiday, you can purchase a limited edition CamelBak Groove bottle water bottle that will do much more than hydrate your loved one who receives it – $10 of every bottle sold will directly support this worthy organization’s efforts. To purchase and learn more, visit www.water.org
7) Heifer International
Since I was a kid, my parents would wrap a photo of the animal they donated from the “the most important gift catalog in the world” for my sister and I to open Christmas Day. Heifer International has been fighting global famine since 1944 through the gift of animals. Your donation towards a goat, heifer, chicken, honeybees (the list goes on) provides nourishment, self-reliance and source of income to needy families and a way to break out of poverty. Learn more at www.heifer.org
8) Share Our Strength
Share Our Strength’s three-word mission says it all: No Kid Hungry. Through several reoccurring food events like Taste of The Nation and the Great American Bake Sale, this national non-profit’s goal is to end childhood hunger in America by 2015. Contribute by purchasing these pretty holiday gift tags, which include a message letting your giftee know a donation has been made on his/her behalf.
9) UNICEF USA
As you may already know from your trick-or-treating days, UNICEF is a global relief organization providing nutrition, clean water, health care and education to children around the world. Long known for their array of beautiful greeting cards (now e-cards, too!) shop the UNICEF store for variety gifts from around the world including jewelry, home décor, kids’ toys and more. For your favorite foodie, check out these fruit basket notecards.
Whether you’re a fan of her or not, you have to acknowledge Rachael Ray’s philanthropic spirit with her nonprofit organization, Yum-O. Under the motto of Cook. Feed. Fund, Yum-O educates kids and families about food and cooking, helps with childhood hunger and provides educational opportunities for those interested in pursuing careers in foodservice. On Yum-O’s cooking.com site, there are hundreds of kitchen tools, wares, cookbooks, apparel and more for both young and old on your holiday list.
Chances are there’s a chocolate lover (if not several) on your gift list. Enter Chocomize – the online site where you can customize a chocolate bar (dark, milk or white) to your loved one’s taste – choose from over 100 ingredients like dried fruits, nuts, and spices. For every bar sold, a donation is made to one of three charities – Doctors Without Borders, Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research or A Drink For Tomorrow (providing access to clean water.) Check them out at www.chocomize.com
(Thanks to Marie Spano for this suggestion for #GiftThatGive!)
12) The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation
Amongst the glut of sweet and calorie-laden gifts abound during the holidays, this non-profit group is particularly refreshing. The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation provides support, resources and guidance for people interesting in planting and tending to edible fruit trees and plants, which in turns help the health of humans, wild animals, communities and the Earth itself. The Home Orchard Handbook: A Complete Guide To Growing Your Own Fruit Trees Anywhere makes for a unique and thoughtful gift for your favorite gardener or food lover.
13) OxFam America
Oxfam is an international relief organization that aims to end poverty, hunger, and injustice by providing donations to those in need. Just choose one of their many gifts available and your recipient will get a card stating the donation you made in their name. What’s on the card is all up to you – but whether you choose to give school supplies, a water well, or a vegetable garden, your gift will help support and nourish a family in need.
14) Greyston Bakery
Greyston Bakery makes brownies for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream – so you know they must be good! The profits from the gourmet goodies that you buy from this New York bakery go toward the Greyston Foundation which supports low income housing, child services, health care, and technology education for families in the Yonkers, NY community.
15) City Harvest
Through UncommonGoods’ Plates with Purpose, 10% of sales from this striking serving platter will go to City Harvest, an initiative created to collect food for New York’s hungry. Give this plate as a gift for one of your friends to help put food on a plate for another.
16) Cookies For Kids’ Cancer
Cookies For Kids’ Cancer began as a bake sale created by two loving parents to raise money for pediatric cancer research once they found out their 2 year old son was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Their first bake sale in 2008 quickly gained speed and over $400,000 was raised. Help remember the lives of children who battled against cancer and support this non-profit organization’s efforts by giving Liam’s cookies to your friends this holiday.
Help feed the world this year by purchasing stocking stuffers, bracelets, or burlap bags from FEED’S 12 Days 12 Ways to FEED product line. With each FEED gift you give this year, meals will be given to schools throughout the world. Also be sure to keep an eye out for the FEED emblem at your local mall, where you can find more of these artisan and fair-labor made items –all of which feed and provide nutrients for kids afflicted with hunger.
18) Dancing Deer Baking Company
The gift of a gingerbread house can help mothers that without e a home get access to an education and ultimate get back on their feet. Dancing Deer Baking Co’s line of Sweet Home Project gifts donates 35% of their cake and cookie packages to the One Family, Inc. program. A sweet gift indeed.
At giftback.com, you can find gourmet gifts like popcorn, fruit of the month, steaks, even organic foods for all people on your list. Be sure to check out their holiday themed gift baskets this year, and know that whatever gift you give, 10% of the proceeds will go to a charity of your choice.
Gorgeous, pink colored Himalayan salt has existed for over 250 million years and HimalaSalt boast the only such product to be ethically sourced and sustainably packaged. From salt grinders to salt platters to cooking slabs, there’s a variety of unique gifts for your favorite home chef. 5% of all profits support a variety of environmental causes.
“Purchase on purpose” is Socialvest’s mantra. Sign up for a free account and earn charity credit points for every holiday gift purchase you make from over 300 online retailers like Amazon, Target, iTunes, etc. You then donate your points to one of many charities of your choice.
Focusing on the five area’s essential to children’s well being (food, water, health, education and play), OneXOne works with local organizations around the globe to give kids a fighting chance at a positive future. Besides donations, you can purchase sustainably haverested African honey, coffee or handmade baskets for your favorite food lover.
23) KIND bars
KIND fruit & nut bars (now in mini size, too) are the perfect stocking stuffer. I’ve been a fan since I spotted them in my local Starbucks for their “made from ingredients you can see and pronounce” tagline (and more importantly, they taste great. Dark chocolate, cherry & cashew, anyone?) In addition, the folks at KIND have an online program that inspires visitors to perform unexpected acts of kindness, which in turn, result in monetary donations to a variety of charity.
Disclosure: I do consulting work for KIND but was not compensated to include them in this post. The thoughts and opinions above are my own.
Looks like you have truly waited until last minute for gift giving, but no worries! Make a donation to numerous hunger, health, education charities (the list goes on) in your loved one’s name. These GiveNow e-cards can still be sent before Santa arrives.