Ways of Giving Back This Holiday Season (and Upcoming Year)!

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Happy holidays, guys! I hope you all had yourself a wonderful, family-filled Christmas!

With so much going on in our house this month, we tried to be more conscious about the practicality in the gifts we gave, how much we spent and really tried focusing on each other and what this season is really about. So it got me thinking, how can my family and I (and others), give back not just this holiday season, but this upcoming year?

I made a list and broke it down into two categories: ways of giving back and companies/brands that give back. Here’s what I came up with.

WAYS OF GIVING BACK

  • Collect cans of food and donate them to a church, homeless shelter or food bank.
  • Visit a hospital and spend time with patients. Read to them, play board games with them, take them gifts, or simply give them your time and have a conversation with them.
  • Visit an animal shelter. Take snacks and toys for them to play with. Animals need love, too!
  • Bring a box of toys to a children’s hospital.
  • Pay for someone’s something. Pay it forward!
  • Buy books for strangers. Or someone in need of a story. Books can change lives!
  • Give someone a really good, unexpected tip.  They’ll appreciate it this holiday season, especially if they’re working during the holidays when they should be with family instead.
  • Bake holiday treats. Put them in baggies and gift them to neighbors, colleagues and shelters.
  • Leave a happy note on someone’s windshield. It’ll brighten up their day!
  • Sign up for a 5k. All are for a great cause, sign up for one near and dear to your heart. Take it a step further by making it your goal to participate in 5k’s throughout the year, not just around the holidays.
  • Donate what you no longer need or use. Donate to your nearest Salvation Army!
  • Donate blood. I know needles can be tad bit scary, but really, what’s a minute of pain when someone’s life depends on your donation.
  • Write an appreciation letter or email to someone who’s made a difference in your life. It can be someone who had a huge impact on your life this year, or in your life overall. Don’t let kind words go unspoken!
  • Send holiday cards to active-duty military and veterans.
  • Volunteer at a shelter.
  • Adopt a family. Gather a group of friends to help or adopt their own family, if they’d like.
  • Fundraise. Get involved! Do your research and find local, fundraising opportunities in your neighborhood or nearby cities. The Red Cross makes it easy to hold an online fundraiser through CrowdRaise. Simply set a goal and invite others to join in on the cause, and achieve your goal!
  • Get CPR certified. Knowing how to save someone’s life is a gift to yourself and others.

 

BRANDS + COMPANIES THAT ACTUALLY GIVE BACK

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  • Feed. On a mission to end world hunger through tangible items like bags, shirts, and home accessories. Each item is stamped with a number which represents the number of meals your purchase will give a family or children in need. You can also sign up for a Run10Feed10 run to feed hungry people in your own hometown.

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  • Patagonia. In addition to selling eco-conscious, sustainable, affordable clothes and accessories, Patagonia donates its’ time, services and 1% of its sales to making the world a cleaner, greener place.

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  • 31 Bits. Supports artisans in Uganda through sales. 31 Bits has also created and implemented a five year program for their artisans which provides finance education and business training, promotes physical and mental wellness, and cares for their families and communities. After five years in the program, an artisan is ready to graduate. This means she is educated, healthy, and confident while managing her very own business where she has an ongoing and sustainable income.

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  • Mable. Made from bamboo, non-toxic, biodegradable handle, self-standing design, plastic-free packaging, naturally anti-bacterial toothbrushes. For every toothbrush purchased, one is given to a U.S. child. Also, you can sign up to their subscription program to be sent a new toothbrush every few months.

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  • State BagsFor every STATE bag purchased, STATE hand-delivers a backpack – packed with essential tools for success – to an American child in need.

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  • Out of Print. Dedicated to celebrating our favorite stories while promoting literacy in understanding communities. Each purchase helps to fund literacy programs and book donations to communities in need.

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  • Better World BooksDonate books you no longer use/need. Call and ask for a Drop Box, let your friends, family and neighbors know, and have them drop off books they no longer use. Each Drop Box raises money for a national or local literacy partner and thousands of high-quality books which are donated to organizations locally and around the world.

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  • Hand in Hand. For every purchase, they donate a bar of soap and a month of clean water to a child in need. Products are cruelty free, natural and sustainable.

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  • Pura Vida bracelet. Through the purchase of these bracelets, full-time jobs are provided, in positive working environments, to 150+ artisans across the globe. They have also partnered with over 190 different charities around the world.

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  • Alex and Ani. Through the purchase of their jewelry, Alex and Ani have partnered up with charities that focus on: Empowerment, Health and Wellness, Our Planet, and Children. Check them out! The Alex and Ani team also put in hours of volunteer work through “Team Impact” to create wells for clean water and beach clean ups. Read more about it, here.

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  • GorjanaGives back by volunteering their time to help non-profit organizations, designing jewelry to benefit a cause, and holding fundraising events. Gorjana is committed to being a good neighbor and making a positive difference in people’s lives. Also, they have the prettiest jewelry! Dainty, chic and perfect for layering.

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  • TOMS. It’s a One for One. TOMS helps provide shoes, sight, water, safe birth and bullying prevention services to people in need, through sales of their items.

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  • Ivory Ella. Did you know that one elephant dies every 15 minutes throughout the entire African continent? To help make a difference and save the elephants, Ivory Ella gives 10% of their annual profits to Save The Elephants and other charitable causes.

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  • Warby Parker. Buy a pair, give a pair. It doesn’t stop there. Their mission is not only to provide someone a new pair of glasses, but to (1.) empower adult men and women with training opportunities to administer basic eye exams and sell glasses for ultra-affordable prices and (2.) directly give vision care and glasses to school-age children in their classrooms. Find out more about Warby Parker and partners, here.

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  • Falling Whistles. Be a whistblower for peace. Falling Whistles works alongside a close network of partners, they identify local visionaries, raise money to finance their projects, and offer mentorship through the entire process – from creating the business plan to managing daily operations. These projects must: solve a community-level problem, create sustainable jobs at a living wage, present real opportunities for growth and give rise to adjacent businesses, and be owned and directed by entrepreneurs who live near the project site. A sustainable peace requires a growing economy, and sustainable jobs. Falling Whistles is working to make every project profitable within a year. The project can then support itself, and pay back the investment, so they can continue to fund new projects.

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    • BOGO Bowl. Calling all doggie-lovers! BOGO Bowl is a buy one, give one kind of brand. They provide food to shelters and rescues giving dogs the time they need to find the perfect family. They have a ton of different flavors to choose from, and guess what? They now have cat food!

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  • Burlington Coat Factory. For the 16th consecutive year, Burlington has teamed up with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) to help raise funds for lifesaving blood cancer research. Find out more on how you can help, too! Olive Garden and Walgreens also contribute to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society mission.

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  • Amazon Smile. Gives to a charity of your choice with any purchase you make. I have mine supporting blood cancer research. Check it out and start supporting!

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Which of these ideas was your favorite? Which brand’s mission did you enjoy learning about? I would love to hear how you and your family give back!

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