Presents with purpose: Gifts that give back

With the holiday season approaching, most of us are thinking and maybe even dreading shopping for the perfect gift for our family and friends. In a world with so many different things to buy, why not buy something that also gives back in return?

Together with some fellow bloggers from the Global Team of 200, we have composed a list of presents with a purpose. Every item below gives back to either the community who makes the product or to an important cause. There are gifts for men, women and children and lots of fantastic “gifts that give” to choose from.

Here are some of our favorites for this holiday season:

Headbands of Hope:

Story behind it:

“I’ve always loved headbands. It’s a simple way to add a little style to any outfit. But after my internship at the Make-A-Wish Foundation, I realized that headbands could be more than just a way to keep your hair back. For girls and women everywhere, their hair is a part of their feminine identity. Wigs can be uncomfortable and unappealing, especially to younger girls.

Many girls fighting childhood cancer lose their hair during their rigorous chemotherapy treatments. Headbands are the perfect way for these girls to keep their feminine identity and have a constant reminder that they’re not alone.

However, throughout this journey, I’ve learned that these headbands are just as important to girls with hair than girls with hair loss as well.

I’ve distributed headbands to girls who are about to start their treatment and haven’t experienced hair loss yet and I’ve also given headbands to girls who are starting to get their hair back after treatment.

With or without hair, Headbands of Hope provides a movement to spread hope in all girls and fight in the battle against childhood cancer, one headband at a time.
” – Jessica Ekstrom

For every headband purchased, one is given to a girl with cancer and $1 is donated to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to fund life-saving childhood cancer research.

Headbands range from about $15-18 and the website also offers bracelets and t-shirts.

The headbands come in all sorts of beautiful colors, ornamentation and design. This one is called Carnation and sells for $15.85

fashionABLE scarves

The story:

“Your purchase of a fashionABLE scarf creates sustainable business for women in Africa.  Our commitment as a non-profit is to the development of people — fashionABLE works with women who have been exploited due to the effects of poverty.  So, when you purchase a scarf you are providing jobs, and then we send the net profits back to holistically rehabilitate more women. This is the beauty of non-profit….”
Scarves provide jobs, profits provide restoration

Each scarf is hand-made by an Ethiopian woman who has been given a chance at a new, sustainable, dignified life. Her name, photo and story will be included on a tag attached to the scarf, bringing more meaning to the product.

Scarves can be customized and cost between $32-44.


Made By Survivors 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.

Here is a sample of one of their new bags:  Sweet Life Carryall for $48.00

What I like so much is the fact that 100% of profits goes back to the survivors who made them by programs to support rescue, aftercare, education and employment.

Since 2005 Made by Survivors has successfully:

  • Trained and employed 350 survivor artisans
  • Sent 250 children to school with our Education Fund
  • Trained 70 survivors as artisan goldsmiths – breaking gender barriers
  • Invested $165,000 in building new shelters
  • Invested $65,000  supporting our partners rescue programs
  • Invested $22,000 in aftercare programs for rescued survivors

Feed Projects

To date, FEED has been able to raise enough money through the sale of products to provide over 60 million school meals to children around the world through WFP. FEED has also partnered with the US Fund for UNICEF, raising much-needed funds for their Vitamin A and micronutrient supplements program and providing over 46,000 children with essential nutrients.

FEED offers all sorts of backpacks depending on how your want to help.

I really found the Feed Health Backpack to be amazing as it travels the distance to create change. Check out what is included in each backpack.

TOMS Shoes:

“With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for One”. To date, TOMS has donated over 2 million pairs of shoes to children over the world. Pretty impressive!

TOMS shoes comes in all shapes, colors and sizes ranging from the glittery pink pair my daughter has to more casual looking shoes for women and men. Prices start around $36.00.

TOMS also offers eyeglasses:

Another site that offers great gifts that give back is makes it easy to support any cause you choose.The Button tells stores that you want a percentage of every purchase you make donated to the cause of your choice! It’s free and it’s that easy!

Change your world one online purchase at a time.

What are your plans for #GivingTuesday this year? What are some of the gifts you like to give?

For more information on #GivingTuesday, click here.

Gifts that Give Back SOCIAL GOOD

Shop til you drop: Shanghai shopping

Before going to Shanghai, I had heard the dreamy term Shanghai Shopping.  I knew that Shanghai was known as the Paris of the East and had some of the best fashion out there in all of China.  For most women, Shanghai is a shopper lover’s paradise where you can literally shop til you drop, all day long.

Although I must admit that I am not the most enthusiastic shopper (I only have ten pairs of shoes compared to the dozens that most women have), I did enjoy strolling Shanghai’s infamous fashion scene and admiring the huge variety of offerings.   After only a few days, I determined that there are more shores than the eye can see.  There are stores everywhere and quite honestly most of them, especially the designer boutiques and high-end shops, were empty.  Perhaps this is a sign of the economy. But it did make you wonder how the stores can stay in business when there is literally not a single soul inside except for a bored shopkeeper chatting on the internet!

In Shanghai, you can find anything the heart desires whether it be ribbon shops, button stores, chic up and coming boutiques or high-end retailers only for the ultra wealthy.  You can find it all in Shanghai if you have the energy, patience and perseverance to walk the crazy, congested streets of Shanghai to hunt and gather.

Here are some of my favorite shops I found along the way. Hope you enjoy!

For the locals or those inclined to do-it-yourself and make your own clothes….

I saw ribbon shop after ribbon shop…everywhere! 

Even shops dedicated to lace so you can make your own lingerie. 

There are also loads of yarn and fabric stores like the one above and below.  The fabrics were gorgeous (if only I knew how to sew!).  There are also lots of tailor shops in Shanghai where you can get your own suits tailor-made for cheap.  Too bad my husband wasn’t along. 

For the locals, affordable shopping…

Crazy, neon lights “junk” shops like these ones above…

Anything you can possibly fit and sell in a store….

Food markets were everywhere.  Street Food is a huge way of life as most Chinese eat breakfast and lunch out.  It saves time and is very cheap. 

Some of the streets had open market styled shops like these ones above.  I even saw live product demos right out in the street.  

For the fashionistas, the somewhat affordable new, chic boutiques of the French Concession…

There were rows and rows of these boutique shops…but not a soul inside….

For the rich…upscale shopping in places like the at the start of the French Concession and Pudong….outrageous designer boutiques that only the ultra wealthy can afford…

And finally…whatever you want…

I saw every kind of instrument shop imaginable.  Instead of all being together in one store, each kind of instrument had their own shop. 

I left Shanghai without buying one fashionable thing.  Perhaps I was overwhelmed, too cheap or just plain old tired and ready to get back home.  I wonder if I go back again someday, if all these shops will still be around or it will be one big strip mall? 

Stay tuned…more posts coming soon.