“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more”.
– H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
A few years ago, I began highlighting different organizations that offer wonderful gifts that also give back to a cause. Given how popular the posts have been, I created a permanent Gifts that Give Back page on my blog and last holiday season that page alone received 40,000 views in the months of November and December! I am thrilled to know that these amazing organizations and causes are getting more customers from my blog.
Here are some of my favorite Gifts that Give Back for the holiday season. I hope you enjoy the list, and please share this holiday guide with friends and family. Make your gift giving season count this year by making a difference in someone else’s life and also giving an incredible gift that will make them smile.
Author’s Note: The products below are just a few of the many these amazing organizations have to offer. Please visit each website to get a full view of all the gifts that give back each organization has to offer. Enjoy!
2017 Gifts that Give Back Guide
ALEX AND ANI
As the heart and soul of ALEX AND ANI, CEO, Founder and Creative Director, Carolyn Rafaelian, created Charity by Design, which serves as a unique division focused solely on giving and making the dreams of charitable organizations come true. Charity by Design empowers non-profit organizations both on a national and local scale to reach their goals by sharing their mission through the power of positive energy and creative design.
Here are three featured Charity by Design bangles below: The Pinecone benefiting Plan International’s Because I Am a Girl initiative, True Wish benefiting the Make A Wish Foundation, and Heart of Strength benefiting the Global Fund to help them fight AIDS with PRODUCT(RED). ALEX AND ANI will donate 20% of the purchase price* from each bangle sold, with a minimum donation of $25,000 between October 2017 and December 2018 to the charities. www.alexandani.com/charity-by-design/.
Designing Change Stitch by Stitch” Anchal creates absolutely stunning scarves, pillows and quilts each handmade out of recycled saris by Indian women rescued from prostitution. www.anchalproject.org
Neutral Patchwork Straight Scarf – The eco-friendly straight scarf features color blocking in tan and gray hues. Handmade from soft organic cotton by artisans in India, this lightweight oversized scarf is a versatile and stylish accessory
Organic Cotton Grid Stitch Poncho – Handmade from layers of lightweight organic cotton, this soft and cozy shawl is perfect for cold weather. Designed to be reversible, featuring camel on one side and charcoal black on the other.
Organic Cotton Grid Throw in Scarlet -Add a sophisticated statement to your home with the grid stitch quilt. This soft cotton throw is lightweight and breathable with a buttery soft hand feel. Use the scarlet red side for a pop of color, or reverse to bone white and easily change to a more subtle look.
b.a.r.e. soaps is an all natural, socially conscious soap and candle company. b.a.r.e stands for “bringing antiseptic resources to everyone”. 20% of proceeds are reinvested into economic development in India and Uganda. 100% all natural handmade products using sustainably sourced ingredients. www.bare-soaps.com
The delightful Kindness Box of soaps
Essential Duo – two soaps
Pick four bath bombs
Bloom & Give
Bloom & Give sells beautifully handcrafted scarves and bags made in India using techniques passed on from generation to generation. Each product is designed in the US by one of Bloom & Give’s designers, and made in India with love. Bloom & Give donates 50% of their profits to support girls education programs in India through their partner Educate Girls to improve the lives of girls in Rajasthan. www.bloomandgive.com.
A Special Discount of 20% has been offered to my readers. Please use the code: THIRDEYEMOM at checkout.
Bella Woolen Scarf – hand-loomed with fine marina and silk
Nola Woolen Scarf in Crimson – hand-loomed with fine marina and silk
Cloud Woolen Throw – Wine: Made of super light felted merino wool with a vibrant ombre dip. It can be used as a bed blanket, a throw, or a picnic blanket.
Indigo Pillows – Made with “Khadi” – a form of heirloom cotton that is hand-spun on a traditional spinning wheel, and then hand-woven in a loom, producing rich texture and a breathable fabric with a near-zero ecological footprint.
Boutique Mexico is on a mission to give back to the community by partnering with native artisans in Guerrero, Hidalgo, Puebla, Chiapas, and Oaxaca to help them earn a living and preserve the ancient crafts of weaving and embroidery that have been the creative expression of their communities for generations. Boutique Mexico takes pride in providing one-of-a-kind pieces designed by talented Mexican artisans. Each piece is a modern twist on an ancient crafting technique to create eye-catching, colorful bags that complement any outfit. www.boutiquemexico.com
Camila Otomi Clutch
Mini Camila Otomi Wristlet:
Otomi Christmas Stockings
Conscious Step is working to end poverty, one step at a time. Each pair of socks is matched with a leading non-profit and provides quantifiable impact through one of their ten partners. For example, in partnership with Matt Damon’s Water.org, each pair of Water Socks provides 18 months of safe drinking water for someone in need. Conscious Step socks are non-toxic, made with organic cotton and are vegan and Fairtrade certified, so they’re as soft on your skin as they are on the environment. www.consciousstep.com
Global Wonders is a part of SA Foundation (SAF) Canada, whose goal is to stop the sexual exploitation & trafficking of young women through implementing their unique recovery model. All Global Wonders Products are handmade in Nepal by women who’ve been rescued from Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation. Each purchase helps to support another woman’s journey to freedom from a life of slavery. Ships products worldwide. www.beaglobalwonder.com.
Global Wonders scarf
Global Wonders Women’s lounge pants
Global Wonders tote bag
Beautiful products hand-made by a cooperative of women in a rural village, this brand provides access to jobs at fair trade wages, education, health care, and avenues for building sustainable community. The second largest employer in a region of Haiti where over 100,000 people live with no electricity or public Haiti Projects makes a tangible impact on raising the quality of life for those who need it most. www.haitiproducts.org
Embroidered Nightgowns: Whether you want a Garland, Tulip, or Butterfly stitch, each beautiful nightgown is designed for comfort with ample arm opening and a generous skirt falling to the knee. It washes, wears beautifully.
Embroidering the nightgowns
Her Future Coalition (formerly MadeBySurvivors)
Her Future Coalition (formerly MadeBySurvivors) is an international nonprofit organization which employs and educates survivors of slavery and other human rights abuses, including many women and children living in extreme poverty. Products include jewelry, bags, gifts and cards and prices range. 100% of profits go back to the survivors who made them. www.herfuturecoalition.org
Liquid Gold Earrings
Invisible World Ring
Coral Reef Earrings
Humanity Unified International is a nonprofit organization that empowers communities to rise above poverty through education, economic opportunities and food security programs. They start by investing in women.
The Humanity Unified Mala Collection is made by women in India who have no other employable skills. Your purchase provides them with a fair paying job. 100% of profits supports an educational entrepreneurship program to empower vulnerable women in Rwanda with the skills necessary to launch small businesses. Each mala represents a prayer for women in Rwanda and for anyone who seeks the power to love, heal, manifest their dreams and to live in serenity, unity and compassion. View the collection: https://humanityunified.org/collections/jewelry
IZZAROO encourages and inspires families to play, create and explore more together. They offer a collection of handmade t-shirts for kids and adults. Founded on the mission to “Be The Good”, they donate 10% to organizations that help underprivileged youth do the same – play, create and explore. These organizations build playgrounds in areas of poverty, provide art education and outdoor experiences to inner city youth. www.izzaroo.com
Kahiniwalla means the teller of stories in Bangla, the national language of Bangladesh, where these beautiful handmade toys, clothing and rattles are lovingly crafted. Each special piece makes a thoughtful, heartfelt gift for the children and grandchildren in your life. But perhaps one of the most powerful stories Kahiniwalla products tell is of one of hope. Every purchase helps women in rural Bangladesh provide better lives for their own children by earning a fair wage. www.kahiniwalla.com
Kahiniwalla Christmas Ornament
Kurandza is a social enterprise non-profit that uses entrepreneurship and education to empower women and girls in Mozambique. One of Kurandza’s projects is a sewing cooperative that helps women, the majority of whom are HIV positive, to create and sell handcrafted jewelry, bags, and cards using traditional African textiles. The women receive fair wages for their work, and profits go back to the community fo fund social programs. The name “Kurandza” is the word “to love” in Changana, the local language of the women Kurandza’s works with in Mozambique. www.kurandza.org
National Geographic has a wonderful collection of gifts for curious kids, trips around the world for ambitious travelers, gear and inspirational gifts for budding photographers, and even personalized gifts.
Each gift aligns with National Geographic’s mission to further our knowledge and understanding of our world and helps support the non-profit National Geographic Society to fund future science and exploration. 27 percent of all proceeds from our store go back to the non-profit National Geographic Society, which funds scientific grants, research and exploration. To view the entire collection of holiday gifts offered, click here.
National Geographic Africa Midi Satchel
Everything Rocks and Minerals
National Geographic 8 x 21 Mini-binoculars
The Obakki Foundation is a small Vancouver-based foundation, created and run by local fashion designer (Obakki), mother and wife, Treana Peake. Obakki contributes 100 per cent of all public donations to their humanitarian projects. The foundation has drilled or rehabilitated more than 850 wells in the war-torn country of South Sudan, bringing clean water to an estimated more than one million people. And they have just promised six remote villages in the country that the foundation will help them to build a better future by providing each village with a much-needed fresh water well. All that Obakki Foundation needs to do this is to sell 500 of each of the new, stylish colours of scarves – as a part of their Scarves for Water program. www.obakki.com
Preemptive Love Coalition
Preemptive Love Coalition brings emergency relief and medical care to families on the front lines of the world’s most polarizing conflicts—in places like Syria and Iraq. But Preemptive Love doesn’t leave once the fighting is done. Instead they stay and empower refugees to reclaim their future from the ashes of war. The wash cloths are handmade by Syrian refugee and the candles are made by women impacted by the war in Iraq. The Soap set is made by different refugee groups. www.preemptivelove.org
Sisterhood Garden Candle Set
Sisterhood Soap Fig and Date Gift Set
Sisterhood Wash cloth Set
PURPOSE provides freedom from slavery for young women around the world. Each piece of jewelry is handcrafted by artisans escaping human trafficking. Every purchase changes a life! PURPOSE is the brand under International Sanctuary, which is a nonprofit whose mission is to empower people escaping trafficking to embrace their true identity and worth.
PURPOSE Jewelry has worked with hundreds of young women around the world for the past 10 years. The art of jewelry making paired with holistic care ensures every artisan receives freedom and hope for the future. Holistic care is provided through our non-profit, International Sanctuary, and includes education, health care, and counseling. Their program provides every artisan with the life skills and opportunities to succeed. www.purposejewelry.org
Revel earrings (silver)
Chevron necklace (brass)
Geo Studs (rhodium)
SOS Children’s Villages
SOS Children’s Villages (www.sos-usa.org) is an international organization that builds loving, stable families for orphaned, abandoned and other vulnerable children across 135 countries, including the US. Through their family support and care programs, medical centers, schools and emergency relief efforts, they impact the lives of millions of children and families worldwide making sure that every child has the support and care he or she needs to grow, thrive, and lead a fulfilling life. SOS Children’s Villages is proud to partner with ALEX AND ANI. The specially designed “Imagine” Sandcastle Charm Bangle represents the strength and love that helps us build strong families for vulnerable children. From May 2017 to December 2017, SOS Children’s Villages will receive a 20% donation of the purchase price to support its mission in building families for children in need in 134 countries, including Syria, Ethiopia and South Sudan. The bangle can be purchased at ALEX AND ANI retail locations, online, and through authorized retailers.
Sudara is a benefit corporation that exists to advocate on behalf of and empower women who have escaped from, or at the highest risk of, human trafficking by providing dignified employment opportunities to women in India. Sudara is a mission-driven lifestyle brand whose success is not just measured or defined in sales and revenue, but in our positive social impact and creating long-term, sustainable change. Check out their beautiful pajamas handmade by the women survivors of sex trafficking. www.sudara.org
For the holidays, Sudara is offering discounted robe and short sets and holiday pajama sets with an average of 20% savings on original pricing as well as limited edition holiday colors.
Sunshine Nut Co.
Sunshine Nut Co. is a cashew company harnessing the food industry to create lasting economic transformation in Mozambique. We grow, roast and package cashews in-country, where we are able to go from tree to package in just three weeks. We directly employ over 30 people at our factory, and then we take 90% of our profits and reinvest them into philanthropic efforts: 30% to orphan care, 30% to farming communities, and 30% to replicate the business model elsewhere. Now in over 2,000 stores across the US, we hope that when you purchase our cashews, you taste the difference in the freshness and quality, and find hope in knowing that you are making a difference in the lives of the poor and orphaned in Mozambique. www.sunshinenuts.com
Thistle Farms is a social enterprise of women survivors of prostitution and drug addiction that would provide an opportunity for a sustainable income and life for the women. Based in Tennessee, Thistle Farms houses a natural bath and body care company, Thistle Stop Café, a paper and seeing studio and a global marketplace called Shared Trade. Today, Thistle Farms employees more than 50 survivors and benefits over 700 women a year. Proceeds support Thistle Farms and the residential program, Magdalene. The community provides housing, food, healthcare, therapy and education for two years, without charging residents or receiving taxpayer money. www.thistlefarms.org
Threads of Opportunity
Threads of Opportunity is a social enterprise partnering with refugee tailors who have fled their homes all over East Africa: South Sudan, Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, and Uganda, to expand their product market. While these tailors provide local services, most of their clients are other refugees, most of whom are entirely dependent on UN and NGO handouts. Contrary to this traditional humanitarian model, at Threads of Opportunity, we believe that all people should have agency, the ability to control and make decisions in their own lives. We also believe in altruism, that people want to make a difference in the lives of others, but often-times just don’t know how. Our mission is to connect refugee tailors with markets in the developed world, to expand the opportunities for refugees to support their families by earning their own income and to provide a meaningful way for individuals to make a difference. www.threadsofopportunity.com
Too Young to Wed
Too Young to Wed, a non-profit organization, that employs visual media, photography exhibits and campaigns to educate and engage the global community to demand an end to the practice of child marriage, has launched a print sale of beautiful, hand-printed 8.5×11 archival pigment prints by Kenyan child marriage survivors and Too Young to Wed Founder, acclaimed photographer Stephanie Sinclair.
Prints are $100 each – with 100% of proceeds going directly to support Too Young to Wed’s important work in communities affected by child marriage. Visit WWW.TOOYOUNGTOWED.ORG/PRINTSALE to take home a photograph and help put a stop to early, child and forced marriage around the world.
Anita, 15, as photographed by Monica, 12. Both girls were rescued by the Samburu Girls Foundations, supported by Too Young to Wed.
Sisters Yagana, 21, Yakaka 19 and Falimata, 14, were all abducted and held captive by Boko Haram until they escaped. The militant Islamist group, began itís insurgency against the Nigerian government in 2009. The terrorist group drew global outrage after abducting more than 270 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok. Many of the girls were forced into marriage and motherhood.
Anita, 15, enjoys the breeze at the Rift Valley viewpoint at Malasso, Kenya. Photo by Jane, 15.Named after an eight-year-old child bride in Yemen, Too Young to Wed’s Tehani Photo Workshop brought together 18 brave girls — including 6 student instructors from the previous year’s workshop — who escaped their marriages and were given the opportunity to pursue their education through the support of the Samburu Girls Foundation.
To the Market
TO THE MARKET | Survivor-made Goods (TTM) combines the powers of commerce and storytelling to empower the world’s most courageous survivor populations, in the belief that resilience is more powerful than suffering. TTM showcases handmade goods made exclusively by proud and passionate artisans who have overcome the perils of abuse, conflict, and disease. By assisting local partners around the world in bringing these goods “to the market,” we take an active role in equipping the survivor’s they employ with economic independence, while raising awareness of the challenges that they face. www.tothemarket.com
Three Drop Oval Horn Earrings – Light
Ethical Midi Crossbody Bag
Vibes Hi-Fidelity Earplugs
A pair of Vibes Hi-Fidelity Earplugs
Vibes Hi-Fidelity Earplugs are reusable earplugs designed for live music. Unlike traditional foam earplugs that block and muffle sounds, Vibes lower the volume of your environment to a safer and more comfortable while still allowing you to hear everything around you clearly.
Vibes is partnered with Hear the World Foundation which provides hearing healthcare and hearing aids to children in need around the world, and 10% of our profits is donated to the Foundation to fund hearing health projects. www.discovervibes.com
Other notable gifts that give back:
These two coffee table books, Chicago Unleashed and Chicago Monumental by Larry Broutman. Chicago Unleashed and Chicago Monumental not only make a unique gift for book lovers, photography lovers, and travelers, but purchasing these books supports a worthy cause as all author proceeds from both books go to the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and Access Living Chicago. Chicago Monumental is an elegant, full-color, hardcover book of photography with images and information on over 250 public memorials, statues, and fountains located in the Windy City’s parks, streets, storefronts, bridges, and cemeteries. Chicago Monumental has recently picked up two book awards: a Midwest Book Award for best interior design and an IPPY (Independent Publisher) Award in the Great Lakes Nonfiction category. Both can be ordered at Amazon.com.
Chicago Monumental Book Cover
Chicago Unleashed Cover
Chicago Unleashed Swans near Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo
1000 Shillings an international development organization that provides microgrants to impoverished women enabling them to start their own businesses and provide for their families. 1000 Shillings gives each woman a microgrant in exchange for a product they make that is sold on our website. Each woman then takes that grant and starts their own business that is sustainable in their home country (becoming a seamstress, selling casava root, etc) with the help of dedicated business mentors. The goal of 1000 Shillings is to give these ambitious women the opportunity they need to become self-sufficient and independent and support themselves and their families. www.10000shillings.com
1000 Shillings Scarf
1000 Shillings Apron
1000 Shillings earrings
Looking for more ideas? Please feel free to check out my permanent page of Gifts that Give Back here for even more amazing products. Also, if you like this gift guide please share via social media. Think of the collective difference we can all make!
“Providing hope never tasted so good”. – Don Larson, founder and CEO of Sunshine Nut Company
I am always inspired by the amazing people out there who are making the world a better place and giving back. Meet Don Larson, founder and CEO of Sunshine Nut Company, a cashew company that is harnessing the food industry to create lasting economic transformation in Mozambique. In 2011, Larson and his family left a 25-year high-level career in the food industry to launch Sunshine Nut Company with the belief that a food company can be the catalyst for lasting economic transformation in some of the poorest countries in the world.
When Larson and his family left the comforts of their home in the US to set off on a new adventure in Mozambique, many thought he was a little nuts. However, in the past six years Larson has done amazing things to help the community in Mozambique and change the world, one package of nuts at a time.
Sunshine Nut Company grows, roasts and packages cashews in Matola, Mozambique where they operate a world-class cashew factory and are able to go from tree to package in just three weeks. Thirty years ago, cashews were one of Mozambique’s top cash makers however almost two decades of civil war and poor economic conditions nearly destroyed the once lucrative industry. Larson found this as an opportunity to not only bring back the cashew industry but create lasting sustainable change by empowering the local community.
Sunshine Nut Company directly employs over 50 people at their factory, hiring primarily adult orphans and promoting from within. 90% of their distributed profits are reinvested back into the community: 30% to orphan care, 30% to farming communities, and 30% to replicate the business model elsewhere. Now in over 3,000 stores across the US, Sunshine Nut Company hopes that when you purchase their cashews, you taste the difference in the freshness and quality, and find hope in knowing that you are making a difference in the lives of the poor and orphaned in Mozambique.
I had the opportunity to interview Don and here is what he has to say about the mission behind Sunshine Nut Company and what his visions for the future are.
A few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Jane Mosbacher Morris, Founder and CEO of TO THE MARKET | Survivor-made Goods. TO THE MARKET is an amazing, creative social enterprise that showcases handmade goods made exclusively by proud and passionate artisans who have overcome the perils of abuse, conflict, and disease. By assisting local partners around the world in bringing these goods “to the market,” the organization takes an active role in equipping the survivor’s they employ with economic independence, while raising awareness of the challenges that they face.
I have featured TO THE MARKET’s products on my “Gifts that Give Back” page on my blog and have stayed in touch with Jane over the years to see what new initiatives they are working on. In honor of World Refugee Day (June 20th) and World Refugee Awareness Month (all of June), TO THE MARKET has launched a small collection of products in partnership with Art of Hope, a non-profit providing services to Syrian refugees in the Middle East. I asked Jane to tell me a little bit more about the new product line and how we can use our purchasing power to make a difference. Here is what she has to say.
This was taken in the slums of Dehra Dun, India and shows Jane Mosbacher Morris (Founder of TO THE MARKET) talking with a mother of a polio survivor. Her son, the polio survivor, is able to work, allowing the family (including the mother pictured) to be supported. Photo credit: Neil Ruskin
Today is World Refugee Day, a day serving to bring to light the hardships faced by millions of displaced persons and acknowledge their perseverance. Our world faces an unprecedented number of displaced persons, 65.6 million people have been forced to flee their homes due to natural and manmade disasters (1). Of this population, a significant number of refugees come from Syria (1). Over 1 million registered Syrian refugees have fled to neighboring Lebanon, with over half below the age of 17 (2). Displaced persons often experience greater threat of physical violence, psychological traumas, disability and death.
The stark realities endured by the majority of displaced Syrians, and countless others across the globe, can often leave those of us reading this post thousands of miles away feeling helpless as to whether or not we can make a meaningful difference. But with today’s interconnected society we can, within even a matter of minutes, through support a new collection launched by TO THE MARKET and Art of Hope at the beginning of June.
In an effort to alleviate some of the trauma and psychological wounds forced upon Syrian refugees, Art of Hope provides Syrian refugee children based in Lebanon with therapy, counseling, and trauma-relief through various art therapy workshops as well as teaching them English through the arts. The organization also provides women and teens sewing classes, arts/crafts, and psychodrama workshops, as well as English courses while helping them cope with emotional challenges. In the absence of any educational, vocational, and psychological support for the refugees, Art of Hope’s help is sometimes the only support they will receive and it makes a tremendous difference.
Art of Hope released its first capsule collection using the drawing and hand-written letters of their Syrian refugee beneficiaries from Lebanon. Printed on 100% organic cotton, each bag is handmade by female human trafficking survivors in TO THE MARKET’s artisan network and then handprinted by a Syrian refugee child. 100% of the sales of the Art of Hope and TO THE MARKET collection will directly benefit Art of Hope’s programming on the ground in Lebanon.
Here are some photos from the new collection. To see more details or to place an order, click here.
Rula’s Drawing Tote Bag: This 100% organic cotton sheeting tote includes a screen print of a beautiful drawing originally done by Rula, an 11 year old Syrian refugee from Daraa, Syria who now lives in one of the most impoverished slums of Beirut, Lebanon. Rula suffers from anxiety and PTSD after fleeing her war-torn city in Syria.
Rula’s Letter Toiletry Bag
Aya’s Letter Tote Bag: This 100% organic cotton canvas tote in black includes a screen print of a letter originally written in English by Aya, a 16 year old Syrian refugee from Homs, Syria who currently lives in Lebanon. 1
Want to learn more? Please visit TO THE MARKET (www.tothemarket.com) and Art of Hope (www.artofhopeglobal.org).
- Figures At A Glance [Internet]. Available from: http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/figures-at-a-glance.html. UNHCR.
- Syrian Regional Refugee Response Inter-agency Information Sharing Portal [Internet]. Available from: http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/country.php?id=122.
“When you truly are on purpose, the people, the opportunities and the resources you need will naturally gravitate toward you”. -Jack Canfield
Have you ever had a dream that seemed impossible and almost crazy? Kathy Wong, an entrepreneur from Australia did. After a career in business, Kathy came out of retirement to start a social enterprise named Moeloco which is a combination of two words, “Moe” derived from the Hawaiian word Moehani, meaning “dream” and “loco” is latin for “crazy”.
“Moeloco is my dream crazy. This dream began when I realized how disconnected humanity had become” says Kathy Wong, founder of Moeloco, a social enterprise dedicated to changing the lives of children living in extreme poverty. When Kathy learned that over 300 million children lack shoes, her entrepreneurial spirit and loving heart sprung to action and she founded Moeloco. Kathy chose flip-flops as her vehicle to fuel her social enterprise. In Australia and other parts of the world, flip-flops are a fun reminder of freedom and inspiration. Kathy jumped on that theme and designed each colorful flop-flop to leave a positive message in the sand such as “Be Happy” or “Love”.
Kathy’s mission is to build a heart-centered community who realize that their consumer dollar has enormous potential and power for positive social impact. Each purchase creates a ripple effect starting with the consumer and positively impacting the lives of underprivileged children and their community.
For each pair of flop-flops, Moeloco will donate one pair of covered canvas shoes to a child living in poverty through their collaboration with the Hope Foundation, an Ireland-based non-profit working to help the street and slum children living primarily in Kolkata, India. Each pair of donated shoes protects a chid’s feet, and also helps change their future by ensuring they can attend school.
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world”. – Desmond Tutu
Do you ever feel like the connections we make in life sometimes seems like fate? The more I work in this tiny niche of social good travel bloggers, the more amazed I am by the incredible friendships and network I’ve made online. I’ve met countless inspiring bloggers and humanitarians online through blogging and social media. One such person is Maria Russo, founder of the award-wining online media platform for travel and social good, The Culture-ist and the non-profit Humanity Unified. It all happened because I follow her on Instagram where I noticed the amazing photographs her organization was posting on women and girls during a trip to Rwanda.
I commented on the photos and began a relationship online that resulted in an interview and a post on her and her husband Anthony’s work as the founders of Humanity Unified. I was instantly drawn to Maria and Anthony’s passion for making the world a better place by starting at the grassroots level by improving the lives of women and girls in Rwanda. I have been working with Maria ever since.
This past International Women’s Day (on March 8th), I held a fundraising dinner to support Humanity Unified and I was elated by the results. In one night, we raised over $400! Although that may seem like a small amount to you and me, in Rwanda that money goes a long way. Roughly 70 % of Rwandans are substance farmers who rely on their harvests for income and with unpredictable weather, environmental disasters and climate change, a good or bad harvest can make a tremendous difference. Humanity Unified is trying to change this reality by empowering rural communities to rise out of poverty through education, food security projects and economic opportunities. They start by investing in women.
Photo credit: Anthony Russo
Since 2015, Humanity Unified has been working in Rwanda with their partner Aspire Rwanda, a local NGO that empowers poor women to rise above poverty. The two organizations share similar missions dedicated to poverty alleviation through education, food security projects and economic opportunities.
Photo credit: Anthony Russo
Photo credit: Anthony Russo
Currently, the organization is empowering 110 women through a farming cooperative project that will ensure each woman earns a self-sustaining, livable income after completing a one-year intensive educational program.
The program provides the women with the skills and knowledge necessary to triple the cooperative’s yields over the course of one year. The 100 women enrolled in the cooperative, most of whom earn less than a dollar per day, are also attending workshops on gender-based violence, women and children’s rights, nutrition, positive masculinity (which includes male partners) and workshops designed specifically for single and widowed women. The program also provides training in cooperative management, financial planning and effective agriculture methods.
“For it is in giving that we receive”. – Francis of Assisi
If you have followed my blog for awhile, then you know how much I love curating my ever growing list of Gifts that Give Back on my blog. It has become my most popular page and is the most widely searched of all my content. When I saw a post on my friend’s blog Epicure & Culture on wines that give back I was elated. I love wine and I had no idea that there are wines that taste delicious and also give back to a cause to make a difference. She agreed to let me share the post here. I look forward to ordering some of these wines and knowing that I am also doing good while enjoying a delightful glass of vino!
Sip These Ten Wonderful Wines to Help Change the World
This is an original post that first appeared here on Epicure & Culture and was written by Katie Foote, Epicure & Culture Contributor
There’s nothing like a glass of wine to help you relax after a stressful day at work or to complement a meal. While the alcohol in wine helps make you feel good, you can enhance that warm fuzzy feeling by purchasing the following bottles. With these you won’t just be sipping your everyday merlot; but wine that gives back to social causes and the environment.
Read on to choose which sip you want to support, from sustainable seafood to stopping animal cruelty to providing jobs for ex-inmates and beyond. Cheers to that!
Berlin, creator of Proud Pour and bottles. Photo courtesy of Proud Pour.
1) Save The Oysters With Sauvignon Blanc
Proud Pour (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
When Proud Pour CEOs Berlin Kelly and Brian Thurber realized they shared a love for Mother Earth — and wine — a genius beverage was born. Their sauvignon blanc donates 100% of proceeds to the planet. In fact, the purchase of each bottle restores 100 oysters, which in turn helps clean 3,000 gallons of water per day. Adds Kelly, “Often times 100% of our profits aren’t enough to restore 100 oysters or plant 875 wildflowers per bottle, so we’ll forego salaries and use our personal savings to do the work.”
Their sauvignon blanc is sustainably grown on a family-owned vineyard in California. The wine’s floral notes are well balanced with minimal acidity and a smooth minerality to pair perfectly with farmed oysters.
Meg Murray of Nasty Woman Wines. Photo courtesy of Nasty Woman Wines.
“Kiva is a simple concept that can change a person’s life.” – Oprah Winfrey
I learned about Kiva years ago after reading the life-changing book “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. This book could not have been more timely in my life as after reading it, I immediately began investing in women at Kiva and also using my voice as a blogger and social good advocate to help improve the lives of women and girls.
Kiva is an international nonprofit founded in 2005 and based in San Francisco, with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. What I love about Kiva is the brilliant concept of using small micro loans to empower people in the developing world to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. These are normally people who do not have access to traditional bank accounts and Kiva’s micro loans provide the missing link that they need to succeed. Kiva’s loans not only improve but change thousands of lives and what a greater gift than providing opportunity and empowerment, especially to women.
In honor of International Women’s Day this Wednesday, March 8th, Kiva has launched an exciting campaign called “Be Bold for Change, Invest in Her”. The ambitious goal is to crowd fund $3 million in loads for thousands of women from March 1-8. Kiva is offering 10,000 new visitors the chance to lend the equivalent of $25 on Kiva for free as part of the campaign. You can choose which woman you want to support – a woman starting or growing a business, going to school, accessing clean energy or investing in her community.
Individual loans of $25 are collected until that woman’s loan request is fully “crowdfunded.” It doesn’t cost new visitors a thing and they can be part of achieving the campaign’s overall $3 million goal alongside Kiva’s 1.6 million individual lenders. Furthermore, 100% of every dollar you lend on Kiva goes to funding loans. Kiva covers costs primarily through optional donations, as well as through support from grants and sponsors.
Author’s note: I received products from Coca-Cola’s 5by20 program; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. You know how much I love to share amazing gifts that give back and empower women.
“All women, everywhere, have the same hopes: we want to be self-sufficient and create better lives for ourselves and our loved ones. When we invest in women, we invest in a powerful source of global development. – Melinda Gates
Throughout my life, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to travel to some of the most remote corners of the earth. Through my travels and work as a social good blogger, I’ve witnessed inequality and injustice however I’ve also seen the tremendous opportunity to make the world a better place for all.
Today, millions of people in the developing world continue to live in extreme poverty, and the majority of them are women and girls. Women lack education, healthcare, water and sanitation, and most of all economic opportunities to lift them and their families out of poverty. Despite this seemingly depressing reality, there is an enormous amount of hope and opportunity to improve the lives of women around the world.
In the field of international development, it is a well-known fact that women are powerful agents of change and development. Studies show that women are likely to reinvest 90% of their income in food, education and healthcare for their children and their families. Therefore empowering a woman and unlocking her economic potential can be the most influential force in breaking the cycle of poverty and creating long-term social and economic benefits for their family, their community and the world as a whole. They just need opportunities to do so.
Me and Mary learning how to make Maasai jewelry that she can sell to earn a profit.
Maria, selling her handmade textiles outside a Spanish language school in Xela, Guatemala
In 2010, The Coca-Cola Company launched 5by20, an initiative aimed at lifting 5 million women out of poverty by 2020, one woman at a time. 5by20 eliminates some of the critical barriers keeping women from entering and succeeding in the global marketplace by providing access to skills and business training, financial resources and peer-to-peer mentorship to women entrepreneurs around the world. 5by20 empowers and helps women to successfully grow their business and incomes. Their increase in earnings has a ripple effect throughout the community, bringing new prosperity not only to their families but to the community as a whole. Since 5b20’s launch in 2010, the program has reached more than 1.2 million women across 60 countries.
This inspiring short video, “Chain of Inspiration,” honors the strong women we work with the 5by20 initiative.
Meet the artisans
From farmers to distributors, retailers to recyclers, these amazing women are part of the Coca-Cola Company’s 5by20 program. The women artisans create beautiful, one-of-a-kind handmade products such as jewelry, handbags and home decor from upcycled packaging, like Coca-Cola labels and pull tabs which are often discarded as waste, and in turn, elevate themselves, their families, and their communities.
Here is a slideshow of some of the 5by20 women artisans in the Amazon.
“If you want to see things happen at a global level, start at the village level. Give women the tools and education and they will drive the change”. – Melinda Gates
Simply put, women are the driving force of promoting change. They just need the opportunity. The Coca-Cola Company has found an amazing, impactful way to help woman at all stages of the supply chain.
Here is a short video introducing some of the wonderful women who benefit from the Coca-Cola Company’s 5by20 program:
The 5by20 artisans are diverting packaging from landfill sites and improving the livelihoods of thousands of women. Here are some of the creative ways the women recreate beautiful products:
The Coletivo Piraquet Handbag (made in Brazil)
The scales of the ancient Pirarucu fish, found in the rivers and lakes of the Amazon, provided inspiration for this elegant bag. Recycled PET scales are hand seen onto mesh to create this delicate beauty.
Bottle Cap Purse (made in Turkey)
Recycled bottle caps make this handy purse even more special.
Some of the products I received in my box from the Coca-Cola Company 5by20 program:
Acacia Creations Soda Can Giraffe (made in Kenya), The Classic Flower (made in Mexicao) and the PCF Narrow Ring-Pull Bracelet (made in the Philippines). All these products are handmade using recycled aluminum cans or ring-pulls.
This International Women’s Day on Wednesday, March 8th– and every day – let’s celebrates women and the extraordinary roles they hold in their communities, families and places of work.
To learn more, please visit #5by20. To visit the 5by20 merchandise shop, click here.
Meet 5by20 Artisans Jocelyn and Marlene – An inspiring success story of how two women living in the Philippines and in Brazil lifted themselves out of poverty and improved their lives with the help of the 5by20 program.
Two years ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to go to Haiti as part of a program to view Macy’s Heart of Haiti products and meet the artisans behind the beautiful art. It was an incredible trip in many ways as it opened my heart and mind to a different side of Haiti that is often not discussed in the press. Instead of seeing tragedy, hardship and destruction I saw amazing resilience, hope and creativity through the arts. While many challenges remain for the people of Haiti – it still is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere – there also lies opportunity and beauty especially through its vibrant, dynamic arts much that is made from repurposed materials that would otherwise send up in the trash.
One such community that is ingeniously using scraps of metal to create beautiful works of art is Croix-des-Bouquet a neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Over 60 years ago, Georges Liautaud began a movement in creating metal art from recycled products that became the thriving metal artisan community of Croix-des-Bouquet.
Today, Croix-des-Bouquet has over 1,000 metal artisans making their fabulous metal art with over 60 different shops and studios creating social change and opportunity in this growing community in Port-au-Prince. Croix-des-Bouquet is where the most famous, accomplished metal artisans reside who have traveled the world with their art and have become instrumental within the community by creating apprenticeship opportunities for Haitians to learn their trade.
Searching for that last minute holiday gift? Why not consider a beautiful gift that also gives back from Macy’s Heart of Haiti or Rwanda Path to Peace product line? Designed to improve and enrich lives, Macy’s extraordinary collection of handcrafted art makes change and hope possible in Haiti and Rwanda. Both programs were developed using a “trade-not-aid” model that connects Haitian and Rwandan artisans to the global marketplace, providing a sustainable income to reinvest in their families, health, education and lives.
I have written extensively about both initiatives before and even had the incredible opportunity to go to Haiti in February 2015 to meet the Heart of Haiti artisans in person. Haiti was a life-changing trip where I witnessed the deep love of the arts and creativity in a nation that had been hit by so many tragedies yet remains so incredibly resilient.
Then they are hammered.
Some of the amazing art produced in Haiti for Artisan Business Network.
Metal artisan Jacques Roodlet at Le Panier Workshop.
The situation in Haiti still remains dire. The devastating earthquake of January 2010 and the most recent hurricane in 2016, have made it virtually impossible for many Haitians to make a living. Out of a population of 10 million people, an estimated 400,000 Haitians are artisans who rely solely on their handcrafted goods as a source of income. Astonishingly, the arts is the largest sector of employment in Haiti. Haitians have a deep-rooted love and culture of many different forms of art ranging from metal work to sandstone carvings to paper-mache and painting.
Heart of Haiti was established after the 2010 earthquake as a way to help the Haitian artisan economy survive and access markets. The first collection of Heart of Haiti products was launched in the fall of 2010 by a partnership between the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and humanitarian Willa Shalit, and the initiative has grown steadily ever since.
Today, Heart of Haiti employs 550 artisans providing a steady income that benefits an extended 4,500 family members. This means more people are able to repair their homes, pay school fees for their children, and feed and clothe their families. Steady income means better nutrition, improved education, and access to healthcare. Now entering its seventh year, the Macy’s Heart of Haiti program continues its goal of helping Haitian artisans achieve economic empowerment through the sale of their handcrafted goods. Artisans receive 22 percent of the retail price for each item in the collection.
This holiday season, why not consider purchasing a Heart of Haiti tree ornament?
Heart of Haiti Tree Ornament
Heart of Haiti tree ornament
Capture the true spirit of the holiday season with this fir-tree shaped ornament. Crafted with recycled metal and hand-painted by artisans from Haiti, this ornament can both decorate your Christmas Tree and help sustain fair trade opportunities for the communities that need it most. With a red organza ribbon attached for hanging, you can make your own unique winter wonderland. $13.00. To purchase this ornament, click here.
Other lovely products from Heart of Haiti include:
Heart of Haiti Soapstone Heart
Heart of Haiti Soapstone Heart:
Shimmering in gold, the Soapstone heart can grace your home in a variety of different ways. This figurine, an unmistakable symbol of love, is covered with gold leaf on top. Each individual figurine is crafted with care by Haitian artisans who now have the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families. $16
I also really love the incredible metal art made out of recycled metal and the paper-mache. When I was in Haiti, I got to visit both metal artisans and paper-mache artists. It was amazing to see how they create such gorgeous works of art. Here are a few of my favorites below.
Heart of Haiti Metal Art
Heart of Haiti Papier-mâché
Heart of Haiti Metal Art