Every year around the holiday season we are confronted with an issue that constantly comes up. The consumerism in all of us starts to stir and we are nearly forced to feel the pressure to spend more and give more than maybe we are comfortable with. We feel the need to compete with others to be the best gift giver. Or to buy gifts for people that maybe we wouldn’t normally be driven to purchase for. We are pressured into spending money on ugly sweaters for parties and ornaments that no one will really benefit from. We, as a people, have given legs to this Christmas concept that you must give abundantly in order to fit into the cultural norm.
I won’t speak on this too extensively, because we all know it’s a thing. We can go over all of the debates on this and all the issues. “We should remember the true meaning of Christmas.” “Giving should be something we do with joy.” “We shouldn’t spend money that we wouldn’t naturally just spend on someone.” “We should be giving all year long.”
While all of these things are true, let’s be honest about the situation. Christmas is here. And at Christmas time we are generally expected, by others and ourselves, to give gifts. I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy the gift giving, because I absolutely love to bless the special people in my life. And despite all of the arguments about how terrible it is that we feel so much pressure to give, and that we should try to get away from that spirit, I say: Why try to change an obviously unchangeable and absolutely beautiful Christmas tradition of giving? Instead of finding the negative in the fact that we take the season to bless others, why don’t we look at it as an opportunity?
I have chosen to do something a little differently this year. Like most others, I will be giving to the ones I love. So, if I am going to be spending an abundance of money to bless those I love, why don’t I allow it to do double duty?
We’ve all heard of the incredible company that is TOMS. A business founded with the heart and passion to help others. The One For One model that TOMS uses takes each item that is purchased and uses the profits to provide an equal item for someone in need. They have reached over 35 million people worldwide by selling shoes and giving shoes. With much success in shoes, they have now expanded to eyewear, coffee, and other apparel, giving sight and clean water to people all over the world.
The amazing part about this One For One concept is that TOMS is far from being alone in having a giveback mentality. I have been overwhelmed in discovering the hundreds of companies around the world that give back to communities. There are companies that supply impoverished families with jobs, scholarships for uneducated children, fresh water, sight and medical attention, escape from human trafficking, and SO much more.
After learning the impact that some of these companies have had on the lives of others around the world, I have decided to use my Christmas shopping to make a difference. Every gift I purchase this season will be something that not only has an amazing story to it’s existence, it will also be used to affect the lives of others who are suffering. Allowing my gift to bring joy to not only my loved one, but also someone in need is the most amazing gift I can think of to give.
As I’ve been looking for gifts that will give back, but are also well suited for each person I’m buying for, I have also encountered something extremely cool. Most of the people in my life have been affected by or are passionate about something that is harming people worldwide. Some relate well, and have a heart for domestic violence, others depression or suicide. Some have experienced difficult times in fertility, and some have had their lives changed by the ability use adoption to better a child’s life. We have first hand experienced heart disease as well as shared love for those with special needs. These things are all major things that are happening in the world we live in that need our help to be exposed, create awareness, and gain research. With finding products that support a cause that directly affects my loved ones I am able to bring them a gift they will cherish for more than just the purpose of having a new material item. I am helping bring light to a cause they care about. And letting them know that I, too, care.
Some of the companies I’ve fallen in love with, and their missions:
TOMS: For every pair of shoes and eyewear you purchase, an equal item will be doanted to someone in need.
Sevenly: For every item purchased $7 will be donated to Sevenly’s charity choice of the week. They have really great graphic tees and hoodies for men and women!
Barnabas: Really amazing men’s and women’s clothing that give 10% of sales to support men and women with HIV/AIDS.
Sseko: Shoes and accessories that give women in Uganda the opportunity for jobs and education.
To Write Love On Her Arms: A company raising awareness and support for those struggling with depression and suicide.
Kite: This is a one-for-one company that donates school supplies to kids in need with each purchased pencil pack.
Warby Parker: For each set of eyewear purchased a pair will be donated to someone in need.
Hiptipico: Apparel handcrafted by artisans using fair trade and fair wages.
RxArt: Uses art to transform hospitals and give coloring books to children who are suffering.
FEED: Amazing burlap bags and bracelets that provide help feed the hungry around the world.
Charity:water: products providing clean water to the many communities suffering from diseases and death caused by unsanitary water.
Peacekeeper Causemetics: A makeup company raising money for women’s urgent human right’s issues by donating to women’s organizations.
Denik: Notebooks designed by global artists are used to help build schools.
WeWood: For every watch crafted from scrap wood that is sold, a tree is planted back into destroyed land.
What are some of the special gifts you will be giving this season? I would love to hear about them in the comments! Do you know of any companies that I left out that have great give-back opportunites?