Every winter, many of us are expected to give things to our families, significant others, and friends, regardless of whether or not they actually need them. While this can be a nice gesture, there are plenty of people who actually are in need — and happily, holiday gifts that benefit charity and do good in other ways while also letting us treat our loved ones accomplish both goals. It's a cliché that the holidays are a time to help others, not concern ourselves with shopping. But those aren't mutually exclusive. If we've got to shop anyway, why not kill two birds with one stone?
In all seriousness, though, there are lots of ways to give back over the holidays, and not all of them even involve money. A lot of soup kitchens, for example, need help preparing and serving their Christmas dinners. This is also a great time to take old things you don't need anymore to a toy, clothes, or coat drive.
And for when you're under the three, next to the menorah, at your office's Secret Santa party, or wherever you're giving presents this year, here are a few ways you can improve the world and your loved ones' lives with your holiday gifts.
Sponsor A Pet In Someone's Name
This cute gift doesn't even require leaving your home. You can visit the website of an organization like Best Friends, Pet Finder, or the North Shore Animal League and select a furry friend to donate to. Typically, they'll take a small amount of money out of your bank account each month, and your loved one will get letters updating them on their pet's progress, adorable photos included.
Buy From A Company That Donates Proceeds To Charity
For pretty much every holiday gift you can get, there's at least one company that will donate some or all of the money you spend on it to charity. TOMS will donate a pair of shoes to children in need for every pair you buy. Better World Books does the same thing for books, and Warby Parker does for glasses. Alex and Ani bracelets each benefit a different organization by donating 20 percent of the proceeds. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation's site also has a bunch of gifts whose proceeds will go toward breast cancer research.
These let you donate without spending a dime. The more you send, the more credits you get, and you can use those credits to donate to lots of different organizations.
Buy Something That Makes A Statement
We can contribute to causes with our words as well as our money. If your friend is a vegan or vegetarian, get them a shirt with a message about animal rights written on it. If they're a feminist, get them a piece of clothing with "feminist" written on it to show we don't have to shy away from the word.
Buy From A Small Business That Could Really Use The Money
You don't have to buy anything out of the ordinary to make a difference. You can simply buy from a small business that could really use your money. Buy the Change, for example, lets you purchase products from women artisans who have struggled financially, and some of the proceeds also go to the foundation, which gives these women grants to run their business.
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