The time of year is upon us when we start searching for great gifts for our friends and family (and teachers and neighbors and the mail man and…does this list just keep growing??). As I’ve gotten older it seems that gift giving has not gotten any easier. I always find myself searching for something that is needed or meaningful or special in some way, and not just another thing that adds to the great accumulation of STUFF that most of us have. As I’m giving gifts celebrating THE BEST GIFT ever given, I want to enjoy the giving, as God most assuredly enjoyed giving to us. I also want to help people, as God most assuredly helped us in the most profound way possible.
It has come to my attention that the ways of combining these two things has multiplied exponentially. I don’t know if you’ve tuned in to the wonderful world of Instagram, but I have and I’ve come across some really great people, great businesses, and inspiration in the process. I wanted to share my excitement and hopefully spark something in some of you.
If you’re not familiar with Instagram, maybe you don’t know the power of a hashtag. I will be honest, when people first started hash tagging all of their pictures (writing a short caption after a picture, starting with this # symbol) I thought it was completely ridiculous overkill. I was sort of a hash tag hater. Okay, not sort of. And I still tend toward that, to be honest. However, having fallen in love with Instagram I am now seeing how all those hash tags can actually serve a purpose. When you click on the hash tag of a picture, it brings up all the pictures with the same hash tag. Likewise, you can search a phrase and see all the pictures that are tagged with that phrase. This also works with Twitter, another social media I have yet to explore. Sorry to all of you who already knew all this. But I know there are some of you (not to name any names, Mom) who this might be helpful for.
In this process of using and following hashtags I came across one of the greatest hash tags of all:
This led me to one company after another whose mission is to serve people in some way, to help lift people out of poverty, to provide jobs and income, scholarships for college, the sky is the limit. Some of these I found through instagram, some I had already heard about, but regardless, let’s make that hashtag blow up! (Mom, that means we would use it a lot)…
I wanted to take a minute and just highlight a couple of these awesome companies that you might want to check out as you go through your gift list:
This company rocks my socks. I don’t even know what that means, but it’s definitely a good thing. The company sells jewelry and apparel that is made by and supports inner city youth. This is from their site:
They do sell much more than bracelets! I love that this company has a heart for young people in our cities and is helping many of them to become the FIRST in their family to get a college degree, to help them pursue goals, and to keep helping others. You can read the stories of some of these kids and feel inspired (you might also cry).
I also am excited about this company because there are really affordable things you can buy!
They also have really great bracelet and necklace stacks!
This company is Detroit based and provides a beautiful service to women who provide a beautiful service to you! This is from their website:
Our mission is to hire women who have various barriers to employment to make our custom leather and fabric bags. They are adopted into our Better Life family and given a chance to succeed in life, family, and friendship.
Even from the beginning, all of our bags have been custom and made-to-order for you – the customer! And our interactive website makes it really fun to design your own bag. Click on the “Design Your Own” tab at the top and play around for hours if you have to. When you are ready to have our ladies make it for you, just add it to your cart and check out! We will get working on it right away!
The bags are SO COOL! You can also buy bags that are already made. Here is one that I think is awesome sauce:
These bags are a bit pricier (if you’re like me and most things you buy come from Target. If you actually buy nice stuff then they aren’t pricey at all), but again, you are purchasing with purpose!
One thing I really love about this company is that when you purchase a bag it comes with a card with the name of the woman who made it- so you can think about her, pray for her, and be reminded of the personal connection that comes with this purchase. What an awesome idea!
This is actually the only company I have personally purchased from (to date, that’s about to change). I have bought several items from their catalog in the past and given them as Christmas presents. Each item is hand crafted and you can read where in the world it was made and who it is supporting. Money from these purchases goes towards all sorts of poverty-beating causes throughout the world.
Okay, I know that everyone already knows about Tom’s, but maybe you didn’t know that since its inception, Tom’s has REALLY branched out not only in the types and looks of shoes they produce, but also into other products- eyeware, apparel, bags, and accessories. All this for men, women, and kids! Many of these gifts that give back end up being jewelry and women’s bags, but Tom’s really has the guys covered too!
Like how cool are these shoes?
My parents were in Haiti a couple of years ago, helping to dig wells, and they said all the kids were wearing Tom’s! So cool to know that the company truly is doing what it says. AND as I perused their website I found that they have not only branched out in their products, but they’ve branched out in ways they serve- including helping moms have safe and healthy births.
From their site:
Through your purchases, TOMS helps provide shoes, sight, water, safe birth and
bullying prevention services to people in need. Learn more about what we give.
So this is not a charity company per se, but if you go to this web address instead of regular amazon, then you can choose a charity that will receive a donation from a portion of your purchase.
This is great in that you can buy pretty much anything on Amazon, so you’re not as limited in what you might buy BUT the portion you donate is MUCH less, so you’re more limited in what you’re giving.
I suggest that regardless of whether you use Smile Amazon for your Christmas shopping, you do any future amazon shopping with this address. It might be a small percentage, but every bit counts, right?
There are of course TONS of other places to buy from. Here are a few more:
1face watches – really cool looking minimalist watches that support a variety of charities
Amazima – Heard of Kisses from Katie? If not, you NEED to look her up. She moved to Uganda as a young 18 year old girl, started a ministry there, and has now adopted THIRTEEN children. Part of her ministry is this store that sells handmade items from the women she works with! (A great gift to someone would be her book).
Nena and Co– Gorgeous hand made bags, accessories, and things for the home made by women in Guatemala.
If you buy something from any of these places I would love to hear about it, I would also LOVE to hear about similar businesses that YOU shop from! PLEASE leave a comment if you have a great suggestion!