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13 Amazing Ideas for Holiday Gifts That Give Back

Nancy Chaney

Published on: November 14, 2012

Christmas world ornamentThe Season of Giving

Gimme gimme, never get ...

Of course kids love getting presents around the holidays (OK, most of them are counting down the days). But they can also feel the boost that comes from giving. This season, check our kids’ list of gift ideas that support worthy causes close to home and around the world. Perhaps you’ll find one that’s particularly meaningful to your youngster or your family as a whole. Present a gift that gives back and you’ll all feel warm and wonderful inside. That sounds like a good way to feel during the holidays, doesn’t it?

SoccerPurchase a smart soccer ball

For soccer players and fans of all ages, we like One World Futbol’s smart soccer ball for $39.50. For every ball you buy from this organization, it donates another to a community in need — refugee camps, disaster areas and the like. Your kids know the joy they get from kicking the ball around; they’ll love sharing it. Best of all, One World’s ball can be played with for years, maintenance free; it requires no pump or needle and never goes flat.

Homeward pet adoptionHelp shelter animals

For your little dog or cat lover, consider a shopping spree on behalf of Homeward Pet, a nonprofit, no-kill animal shelter in Woodinville. On its website, Homeward Pet posts a “wish list” of items needed for animals in its care, including pet food, treats, leashes and collars. Conveniently, many items on the wish list are available at Costco.

Woodland Park ZooProtect wild animals

Animal lovers with wilder tastes will appreciate the adoption of a zoo animal from the Woodland Park Zoo.  A symbolic animal adoption at the Lead Keeper level of $100 includes an adoption certificate, plush animal — how about a stuffed komodo dragon to cuddle at night? — and your child’s name on the ZooParent recognition sign at the zoo. A portion of the price goes to support the zoo’s efforts to protect species and habitat.

Save the Children fundSupport kids of the world

The world’s inequities are tough to understand. Your child, along with your family, may enjoy learning about and helping a child in need in another part of the world. Sponsorship through Save the Children, at $28 per month, provides nutrition, health care and education to a sponsored child and kids all over the world (even in the U.S.). Selecting a child of the same age and gender as your own could help pave the way for a connection and communication that elicits learning on both ends.

Heifer Int'lBuy a livelihood for families

For children who already recognize that poverty and hunger exist in the world, Heifer International has devised meaningful gifts. A donation of $20 to Heifer buys a flock of chicks for a family in need. Your young humanitarian will appreciate that chicks become hens that lay eggs, which the family can both eat and sell, bringing about needed improvement to a family’s diet and economic situation.

Thumb pianoSupport causes through music

Budding musicians will love plunking on the Rockin’ Recycled Thumb Piano ($18) from Ten Thousand Villages. Made in Burkina Faso, this compact instrument can be played by little fingers and may provide you with more pleasant background music than your pots and pans ever could. Ten Thousand Villages promotes fair trade and supports skilled artisans in 38 countries around the world.

KivaMake a loan, help a family

For older kids in need of a holiday-break project, consider funding a lending account for them at Kiva, an organization that facilitates microlending. To select a loan recipient, teens and tweens can read stories about hardworking low-income people around the world who are seeking business loans, from small farmers needing fertilizer to small-scale storekeepers. The minimum loan is $25, and each small loan combines with others to fund projects. Kids can then track the progress of their loan, and when it’s been repaid, choose to fund another project. It’s a win-win for learning and giving.

Tiny revolutionary shirtProvide more hugs for babies

Who wouldn’t want to spread hugs and a loving touch to babies in need? With the purchase of a T-shirt from Tiny Revolutionary, you and your kids can support Hands to Hearts International, a nonprofit organization that trains orphanage caregivers in touch therapy and baby massage. Its T-shirt reads “Where There Is Love, There Is Life,” and $20 of the $32 purchase price goes directly to Hands to Hearts. There is a range of kids’ sizes available, along with some adult sizes ($35).

FirstBook organization recipient readingDonate a bedtime story

Many of us don’t even think about it; nightly bedtime stories are just part of the routine. But some families have few or no age-appropriate books in their homes, and kids miss out on this important, literacy-building ritual. First Book is a nonprofit that is working to distribute new books to low-income families and schools in the U.S. and Canada. A donation of $50 on behalf of your eager reader funds 20 books, a great start to a reading routine at bedtime — or any time.

One Million Lights programShed light on a brighter future

This gift will light up your child’s blanket forts and camping trips, as well as the dark nights of someone whose home doesn’t have electricity. One Million Lights is a nonprofit that aims to provide sustainable, usable light to homes without electricity in developing countries through a “buy one, give one” model. Buy solar-charged lanterns ($30 for the pair), and you keep one and a family in need gets the other. Plus, the lanterns are brighter, safer and cheaper than typically used kerosene lanterns — illuminating for all of us.

WorldVisionContribute school supplies

Local aid organization World Vision works in many ways to improve the lives of children around the world. Your child might enjoy — and recognize the importance of — giving a backpack and school supplies ($22) to help another child have the tools to attend and succeed in school.

Liberty Kids bottleSupport arts and kids’ hydration

Kids on the go need to hydrate, and an aluminum water bottle from Liberty Bottleworks in Yakima does this with substance and style. Liberty’s kids’ collection features a bottle with a drawing from 6-year-old Klay Koler, and $7 of the $18 purchase price goes to support the art program at Klay’s school in Yakima. On top of that, Liberty makes its bottles right here in Washington of recycled materials, and they’re BPA free.

A Day at the MarketGo to market, to market

For children who’ve enjoyed a visit to our own Pike Place Market, a special book captures its sights and sounds to experience again and again. A Day at the Market by Sara Anderson features cute rhymes about Market happenings and paper collage illustrations. Offered by The Market Foundation for $14.95, proceeds support the Market’s medical clinic, senior center, preschool and food bank.

Nancy Chaney is a Seattle-based freelance writer.


Grocery bagMore ways to give back

Another easy way to offer a gift that gives back is to donate to one of the organizations in our state doing essential work on behalf of Washington families. Start with this list of amazing organizations, each of them selected to be one of ParentMap’s monthly Giving Together partners since the program’s inception in 2010.

Ashoka Seattle • Atlantic Street Center • Camp Fire USA/Central Puget Sound Council • Committee for Children • The Experimental Education Unit at the University of Washington • FareStart • Girl Scouts of Western Washington • Hopelink • It Gets Better • Kindering • Make-A-Wish Foundation of Alaska & Washington • NW Children’s Fund • Parent Trust for Washington Children • Rainier Scholars • Reach Out and Read • Roots of Empathy • Seattle Children’s PlayGarden • Summer Search • Technology Access Foundation

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