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.

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.

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 $60 and up, your family can buy a Virtual Adoption Kit that helps 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 ($49 and up). There are even a tarantula and honey bee for adoption. Their gray wolves, who lost their Endangered Species Act protections under the Trump administration are again under attack and the plush versions are among the top sellers.

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 A$70 (A$80 for overseas families), 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 Sea Creatures

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.

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 nonprofit groups whose work represents an incredible give back gift for all ages. Even a greeting card with a powerful story is worth receiving. Oxfam America is a nonprofit organization committed to ending the injustice of poverty. At Oxfam Gifts, purchase any number of items — everything from water to school fees, a $25 flock of chickens, a $30 mosquito net, or $80 for a pair of sheep — to support their global projects. 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.

Give Back Style is always in Fashion

Society socks produces very colorful and patterned mens socks.
Society Socks keep your favorite men on their toes and sending matching socks to the homeless.

When they learned that socks were the most needed item in men’s shelters, the founders of the Society Socks brand decided they would donate one pair for every pair sold. Then they got wild with the patterns and today, Society Socks sells men’s socks by subscription ($60 for three months) and in gift boxes. And they donate even more pairs to charities around the world. Society Socks are 70% combed cotton and fit men’s shoe sizes 7-13. A women’s line is due in 2022. We love gifting the men in your life monthly with two new, cozy pairs in their fun patterns. It is a gentle reminder that there are others who need help getting back on their feet.

Combine kids’ healthy eating with saving the world’s oceans for a another holiday win-win. The Safe Catch brand has made a commitment to sustainability and healthy oceans by selling fish free of harmful mercury for nearly 20 years. What’s new is their cute, convenient Safe Catch snack packs that come with crackers, an eco-spoon and a 2.6oz can of tuna. Kids may not appreciate stocking stuffers loaded with 20 grams of protein but for the meal-preparer in the family, they are a real gift. Potentially messy inside the car, carry Safe Catch snack packs instead of junk food for road stops, camping trips, hikes and picnics. Our tester family prefers the mild Garlic Herb flavor over the chili-like Spicy tuna or the peppery Lemon Pepper. An eight-pack costs $25.99.

Kids to Kids Direct Giving

South American farmer with daughter and heifer.
Farmer Miguel Catota Sillo shows off his milk producing dairy cow from Heifer.org.

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 (delivery of a truckful of clean water). This is one charity where you can focus your donations on relief and emergency funding, at home or overseas, at a time when the pandemic makes 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 donation? 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 auctioneers 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. Buy something for a cause.

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 a kinder world.

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