Give Back Gifts

Tis the season for gratitude, and we’re grateful for the give back gifts that offer sustainable options to help others, support many good causes and let us skip long lines.

Girl holding a white rabbit in her arms.
A rabbit is only one of many gifts that help Save The Children protect the most vulnerable.

Put one of these give back gifts on your holiday list and begin the journey towards a more sustainable future.

Fund Wildlife Conservation around the World

The World Wildlife Fund offers many opportunities to help protect endangered animals, including wonderful gifts that give back. For $25 to $250, your family can help conserve a elephant, polar bear, tiger, orca, panda, snow leopard or other species.

A friend whose daughter is in love with snowy owls discovered that the Sierra Club offers snowy owls and bison among their collection of animals ($39 and up). There are even a tarantula and honey bee for adoption. 

Support Koalas Down Under

Koalas for adoption at Koala Hospital in Australia
Adopt one of the koalas recuperating at Australia’s Koala Hospital and keep up with its progress.

The Koala Preservation Society of New South Wales, Australia rehabilitates these cute animals when they’re sick or injured and then releases them into the wild. Their Adopt-A-Wild-Koala program based in Port Macquarie starts at only AUS$40 (about US$29), or donate a bit more to receive a story about your specifically chosen koala, a booklet about koalas and more, shipped internationally. Adoption money helps rehabilitate and treat them.

Give Back Gift to Creatures from the Deep Blue Sea

Plush toys represent the range of wildlife your gift will support at WWF.

Adopt a sea turtle or manatee — or an Orca, for those who think big. It’s the ideal gift that gives back to marinelife lovers.

The Adopt-A-Manatee program ($25) at Save the Manatee also promotes sustainable and eco-tourism events around central Florida and at many, you can see the creatures up close.

Adopt-A-Sea Turtle gifts animal lovers with a personalized Adoption kit and plush toy ($56) from the Sea Turtle Conservancy, which has been doing this important work for more than 50 years. Once adopted, follow the turtles they are tracking by satellite. Plus, teens may be interested in opportunities to volunteer in Costa Rica or Panama as a research assistant.

Adopt-an-Orca is a program run by the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor of the San Juan Islands. Select the Orca of your choosing from the many they know by name, and for $35 and up per year you can find out how they’re doing and learn much more about this unusual breed, plus get 10% off online at their gift shop if you need a more tangible token of this conservation effort.

Give Back Gifts That Help Those Who Help Us

Organic coffee beens from Fire Dept. Coffee Company
Subscribe monthly to coffees from around the world or drink local and support first responders with Fire Dept. Coffee.

Does that foodie on your shopping list love a good cup of coffee? Turn to Fire Department Coffee for ideas. Our reviewers note, “We loved the Fire Dept. Coffee medium roast blend, which created a smooth aromatic cup of coffee from our French Press.” Giftees will feel good when drinking their joe, which is roasted by a team of firefighters and first responders. They donate 10% of all profits to a foundation that provides resources for first responders. Look for several roasts, dark espresso and spirits-infused flavors (from $12.99/pound), plus free shipping on subscriptions.

Support People’s Lives with Gifts that Give Back

Oxfam aid worker supplies water to child
Oxfam Unwrapped gifts cover the essentials that help others invest in their own family and community.

Support many non-profit groups whose work represents an incredible give back gift for all ages. Even a greeting card with a powerful story is worth receiving. At Oxfam Unwrapped, purchase any number of items — everything from water to school fees, a $10 chicken for a Vanuatu family, a $39 goat, or $98 for three piglets sent to a farmer and his family. Your giftee will receive a very clever card that explains how their gift helps fight poverty.

Heifer International is another charitable organization with a focus on giving animals to impoverished people around the world. Their online holiday marketplace is also full of hand-crafted ornaments and toys (from $15) and sustainably farmed items. Hear moving stories about heifers ($500) that helped families build new houses, sheep ($120) that provided warm coats for children in winter, and a flock of chickens ($20) that fed them. Partial contributions from $10 and up are pooled with others to fulfill these needed gift items and to support educational programs in lesser developed regions.

Kids to Kids Direct Giving

Help your child give a gift to another child through Save the Children, for an incredible bonding moment. Choose from an online catalogue of items to give, ranging from $15 (one soccer ball) to $1,000 (share of a school’s water point). This is one charity where you can focus your donations on relief and emergency funding, especially important during a time when COVID-19 has made so many other global crises even tougher to fight.

Support many other worthwhile groups in person by signing up your family for a volunteer vacation next year. Read our “How to Volunteer” guide before planning that special trip.

Give Back Sites & Auctions for Good

Want to give back with your child through a family purchase? Of the many sites out there, DonorsChoose.org allows families to pick what type of school project, field trip, sports team, activity or need they want to support, then search the site’s collection of requests that have been made by teachers around the United States.

To raise money for a variety of causes, upcoming projects, and non-profits, the online auction house at Bidding For Good can’t be beat. Schools, youth groups and other non-profits use their Commerce for Charity system to upload their donated Major League Baseball tickets, Paris walking tours or Amazon gift cards so everyone can take part in the worthwhile bidding process.

Give Back Gifts with Fortitude

face mask from NY Public Library
The lion on this face mask is a reminer of Patience and Fortitude, two virtues needed during this holiday season.

Useful stocking stuffers are a good bet this year. With dozens (if not hundreds) of not-for-profits doing their own face coverings, this simple black mask from the New York Public Library caught our eye because it carries a big message. The white logo is derived from the magnificent lion statues that guard the entrance to the main library branch at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street in New York. The lions are named Patience and Fortitude after what Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia said were the best attributes of New Yorkers, so you’ll have a constant reminder of what’s needed to get through the upcoming season. One size fits all, tight knit, double-walled, washable fabric, $12.00.

When Give Back Style is in Fashion

Fair Harbor Clothing is one of many companies using recycled fibers, plastic bottles, plant waste and landfill to keep travelers clothed while helping the environment. Sustainability is in the DNA of these companies. The men in your life (big and little) will love Fair Harbor’s swimming and sport shorts which each comprise 11 plastic water bottles and lots of clever fiber technology. Like Patagonia, a leader in this area, Fair Harbor will also “round trip” (take back) your used shorts, give you a $5 credit toward your next purchase and then recycle them. The basic One Short comes in eight colors; $68.

Don’t use this holiday to give another unwanted gift that will soon be forgotten. Instead, help a good cause and let your child (or your nanny, or your neighbor, or your boss) take part in changing the world.

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