Gifts That Give Back

Dec 20, 2010
Exec. Prod. of Franchises & Series. He previously reported for HuffPost, L.A. Daily Journal, and Biloxi Sun-Herald.
'Tis the season to give gifts with benefits. (Photo: Reuters Pictures).

For some people, holiday shopping is a breeze. They have a special knack for knowing EXACTLY where to go to find the perfect gifts for their parents/siblings/spouse/co-workers.

For the rest of us, the holidays bring the dreaded stress of slogging from store to store looking for just the right present for someone we've had to buy things for a million times before (I mean, seriously, I don't think my dad wants the same cologne for the umpteenth year in a row).

Here at TakePart HQ, we figured we weren't alone in facing this annual dillema. So we put our collective heads together and came up with a few suggestions that have the added benefit of NOT requiring a trip to the mall. They can all be purchased online.

And since you're a TakePart reader, we know you want to do some good while spreading holiday joy. Each of our ideas has the added bonus of being a gift that also gives back. 

So sit back, click, and feel good that you're spreading holiday cheer and good karma. Happy Holidays!

Product (Red).

Product (Red)

Since its creation in 2006, Product (Red) has raised more than $150 million for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The organization has teamed up with some of the world's most iconic brands—like Apple, Starbucks, and Nike—to offer red-themed products that donate a portion of their purchase price or profits directly to the Global Fund. The fund then uses 100 percent of that money for HIV, AIDS, malaria, and TB treatment services. So what can you get from (Red)? Here are some ideas:

Tom's Shoes

For every pair of shoes you purchase, Tom's will send a pair to a child in need. As of September, Tom's had given away more than 1 million pairs of shoes in 24 countries around the world, from Argentina to Zimbabwe. The company even encourages volunteers to sign up for one of their "shoe drops," where shoes are physically delivered to children overseas.


(Sir Richard's Condom Company). 

Sir Richard's Condom Company

Okay, hear us out. Yes. We know that giving condoms is a little weird. Definitely not for your family members. But as a cheeky gift for your friends? They make great stocking stuffers. And these condoms are REALLY cool. Just look at 'em. And the best part? The company's motto is "doing good never felt better." How does Sir Richard's live up to its motto? For every condom purchased, the company donates one to a country in need. Sounds good to us!

Heifer International

So you're not actually giving anything tangible when you buy something from Heifer International—at least not to the person you're giving the gift to. Instead, someone half a world away could get a camel, a flock of ducks, or a water buffalo in your loved one's name, depending on how much you give. Heifer allows you to give your loved ones meaningful gifts that are actually useful to their recipients. For example, a flock of geese can lay up to 75 eggs per goose per year, yielding a quick source of protein and income for desperately impoverished families. A single goat can provide enough milk to nourish a family, and generate extra dairy products for sale.


Like the idea of a gift that actually goes to someone else, but want your friend/sibling/whomever to be able to choose the beneficiary of your money? Then how about a DonorsChoose gift card? DonorsChoose is the online database of classroom projects that have been uploaded by teachers who need a little extra financial help to bring particular lessons to life. Maybe it's a set of atlases for a geography class, or new chapter books for a reading library. You purchase the gift card, and then your recipient can browse the DonorsChoose site and select the classroom project that resonates with her. Maybe she was a math nerd and wants to help a math class? Or perhaps her teenage theater geek wants to support a drama class? Why not let her choose?


A Kiva gift card is a fantastic way to help someone you care about change a life halfway around the world. The recipient can use the card to finance a micro-loan to a small business in the developing world. Kiva also has other items that support the organization, like water bottles, lanyards, wristbands, and a calendar.


(Photo: Lord & Taylor).

Made from traditional Ikat fabrics, the FEED bags at Lord & Taylor are a fashionable way to support Guatemalan craftsmen and female artisans, while providing nutritional aid for children in the country. For every FEED 1 Guatemala pouch and FEED 3 Guatemala bag sold at Lord & Taylor stores in the U.S. and online, FEED will donate $3.50 or $10.50 respectively to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to help support UNICEF's nutrition programs in Guatemala.

Save The Children

The global jeweler's Save The Children collection includes three different ring styles and a sterling silver pendant. They're a bit pricier than the other items on our list, but a nice chunk of that change goes to a worthy organization. 


Know someone who just loves sharks? Or dolphins? Or turtles? Or basically any ocean creature? Well Oceana gives you an easy way to adopt one of these marine critters in honor of someone you love. You can also choose a Gulf Coast adoption kit to aid marine animals impacted by this year's massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Nature Conservancy

Maybe things that swim aren't your loved one's thing, but forests are. The Nature Conservancy allows you to adopt trees in Brazil, or an acre of rainforest in Costa Rica. You can also help build habitats for hummingbirds.

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