Gifts That Give Back 2019

It’s that time of the year. Whether you like it or not, you have to give gifts to your loved ones, friends and colleagues. Why not make it more meaningful and purchase something that also helps the community at large?

We have put together our list of holiday gifts that are worth giving, but also gives back to someone in need.

Each Food for Thoughts greeting card gives a PB&J sandwich to the hungry.

Food For Thoughts Greeting Cards $22 (8-pack)

Instead of picking up a random holiday card from the drugstore, get a cute sandwich shaped Food for Thoughts Card that feeds the hungry. With the purchase of each card, the cash equivalent of one PB&J is donated to an organization that feeds the hungry, such as food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens. Besides holiday cards, they also have birthday, thank-you and new address cards. They make wonderful teacher and office gifts!

According to Feeding America, 1 in 8 Americans does not have access to enough food.

Environment friendly candles that smell good too!

TLD Candles $25

Two Little Dumplings are not your ordinary candles. These are made in New York, using all-natural coconut soy wax, low smoke hemp/cotton wicks, essential oils and nontoxic adhesive. The products reduce CO2 emissions by using reusable containers and all-natural candle materials, and recyclable packaging. They are also long lasting and smell great! A portion of all proceeds go to NYC Material for the Arts.

Handmade wood sculpture benefits handicraft worker in Bali.

Cat Praying Wood Sculpture $49.95

These meditating cat statues carved in wood is sure to make any animal lover smile. NOVICA empowers artists and provides them a platform have a broad reach. Browse for hundreds of handmade items from all over the world on their website or Amazon.com. We personally met with one of NOVICA’s 100-year old flute makers in Bali.

Every purchase is gift wrapped and comes with a handwritten postcard from the artist – in this case Nengah Sudarsana from Bali. He also says on the website, “Novica has created a much better life for me and my family. Before, I could hardly afford to live in a single room home. Now I live in a house with three rooms, and have my own car. Most importantly, I now support many other artisans who work with me.”

For each pair of sock purchased, a pair is donated to charity.

Society Socks subscription $57 & above

Instead of stuffing the stocking with a pair of socks, you can gift someone a sock subscription, where they will receive two stylish pairs of cotton socks each month. For every pair sold, Society Socks donates a pair to charity. Chose from 3, 6 or 12 months subscription and include a hand written note in your gift. If you love the idea, you can also get them personalized or subscribe to yourself!

Socks are one of the most needed, but least donated clothing items in homeless shelters.

Proceeds support number of dog rescue programs throughout the US.

Wicked Dog Hoodie $60

Here is a cool gift for animal lovers. Wicked Dog Apparel is a Boston based clothing brand that brings together the love of Boston, dogs, and clothing, that includes t-shirts, hats, dog leashes, hoodies and more. 

Wicked Dog Apparel sponsors a number of dog and animal related charities such as BarkHappy and International Doodle Day, as well as Christopher’s Haven‘s fashion show, and The Longest Day – 48 Peaks, a hike to fight Alzheimer’s. You can sport a nice look while reuniting lost and found dogs with their families, and saving abandoned, neglected, and abused dogs from high-kill shelters throughout the United States. 

Proceeds from beachwear go to sea turtle conservation.

Lazy Turtle Save Our Shells Tee $38

Lazy Turtle’s hoodies, tanks and t-shirts make a great gift for someone who cares about oceans, sea life, and the environment, or to teach young ones about marine conservation. The Florida family-owned company sells sun-safe beachwear (SPF 50), proceeds of which go to the Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC), the world’s oldest and most respected sea turtle conservation group. Get one each for mom, dad and the kids before heading out on your next beach vacation!

NYC Taxi themed scarf provides skill training in Michigan.

NOSOFA CLUB Scarf and Pocket Square $49

The city focused accessories make a fashion statement and perfect gift for a pair – newly weds, mom and dad, young couple! The NYC taxi cab scarf for women and pocket square for men is made of Poly Chamuese (that feels like silk) in a beautiful grey-yellow pattern. NOFOSA Club provides employment, life skills, and confidence to women and men at the St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center, located in Flint, Michigan. They teach people how to sew, giving them a professional skill as well as employment.



Earrings that empower women in Peru.

Fair Anita Earrings $16

Fair Anita employs 8,000 survivors of sexual/domestic violence around the world to create sustainable, fair trade jewelry and accessories. The women are paid 2-3 times more than the minimum wage, plus provided with health insurance and educational scholarships. Most items retail under $22 and are made from recycled materials, sourced locally from the communities where they are created. You can shop by country and learn about the artisans on Fair Anita’s website.

Chocolate covered toys facilitate ecological conversations.

Yowie Chocolate Covered Toys $24.95

Yowie empowers kids and parents to make a difference in ecological conservation by eating one of their favorite things – chocolate! Every chocolate is shaped as a lovable Yowie character and comes with a limited-edition collectible animal. There’s a leaflet that features a picture of the real-life animal, its profile and level of endangerment, to encourage parents to start conversations about ecological conservation with their kids. Makes for delicious stocking stuffers and party favors. Available at retail stores, including Walmart.

Children’s book that educates kids in Bali.

Beato Goes To Indonesia Children’s Book $14.95

This fun children’s picture book teaches kids about travel, diverse culture and protecting the habitats of endangered animals, through the eyes of a traveling cat. Authored by Go Eat Give founder, Sucheta Rawal, the book is based on real life characters and photographs. A portion of profits benefit Bali Children’s Project, a nonprofit that keeps kids off the street and gives them education (including books, uniforms, food and tuition), so they have a better chance in life.

Go Eat Give takes travelers to Bali for culinary, yoga and volunteer journeys.

Give a charcoal soap and one woman in Kenya or Tanzania will receive a new charcoal-efficient stove.

Apotheke Charcoal Soap +Candle Gift Set $45

This charcoal soap does not only prevent breakouts and keeps your skin hydrated, it support women in Tanzania and Kenya who are running charcoal-efficient stove businesses. Cooking over open fires is one of the world’s leading killers in developing countries. Each soap provides a woman in East Africa with a stove; and each candle provides a family with a solar light.

Snacks that employ incarcerated women.

Women’s Bean Project Snacks $5.75

Grab a Women’s Bean Project delicious and organic snack for all your coworkers. The project hires women with histories of incarceration, women who are ex-gang members or former addicts with multiple felonies, and puts them to work manufacturing gourmet food items. Assortment of sweet and spicy flavors include Greek Yogurt Covered Blueberries, Ginger Zing Trail Mix, Ginger Zing Trail Mix, Ginger Zing Trail Mix, Chili Spiced Mango, and Thai Curry Cashews.

Honey made products that save the bees.

Catskill Pollinator Artisanal Food Basket $70

Artisanal food products are always popular among coworkers, hostess gifts and foodies. The New York based farm-to-table food and spirits brand with honey at its core offers gift baskets filled with organic honey, maple syrup, waffle mix, chocolate honey truffles and more. During the crafting of their New York Rye Whiskey, spent mash is given to local farmers three miles away to feed their pigs; and a percent of every sale is donated to environmental causes devoted to saving bees and other pollinators including Friends of the Earth and The Sierra Club. 

Relaxation kits prepared by single moms.

H.E.A.L’s Stress Reliever Kit $19.99

With family, shopping, cooking and traveling, holidays can be a stressful time. Pamper someone during the holidays with H.E.A.L’s Sleepy Time Kit and H.E.A.L’s Stress Reliever Kit. Created by Dr. Harmony, the kits contain magnesium bath flakes, relaxation oils and body lotions. It is the perfect way to say “thank you” to the chefs, caretakers, and party hosts, while also giving back. These two gifts contain handcrafted items by single moms, people with disabilities, homeschool families. H.E.A.L’s products are available through their website, Amazon.com, and in Walmart stores.

Read 2018 Gifts That Give Back

Restaurants Doing Good in Philly

Having already given the city their brilliant talents, several of Philadelphia’s restaurateurs and food purveyors also give back for the greater good of the community. And while Jose Garces and Marc Vetri have both established foundations that make an impact, Philadelphia diners have a chance to show their generosity as well. At Rosa’s Pizza, for example, patrons can pay an extra dollar for a slice of pizza for someone less fortunate. This pay-it-forward approach even caught the attention of Ellen DeGeneres, who recently featured the shop on her show.

Here’s the scoop on those in the Philly food scene paying it forward:

Education & Health Initiatives:

  • Di Bruno Brothers, the specialty food retailer and importer, celebrated its 75th birthday by raising $75,000 to build the Neighborhood Kitchen at St. James School in North Philadelphia. The facility provides nutritional support to the school’s students—that means on-site lunches and meal deliveries for under-resourced families. The Neighborhood Kitchen also develops programs to engage students in the cooking and serving process, offering them hands-on opportunities to learn about the culinary arts and nutrition.
  • Focusing on specific needs of immigrants, Garces Foundation runs programs addressing health, language and cultural skills and nutrition. Each quarter, the foundation hosts Community Health Day, giving uninsured patients free dental care, physicals and medical screenings. Classes in English for the Restaurant and Everyday Living help narrow the language and cultural gap for restaurant workers. And each summer, the foundation hosts Luna Farm Field Trips to the Garces family farm, where children grow fruits and vegetables, cook their own healthy lunch from their harvest and engage in fun forms of exercise. The group also supports after-school and summer tutoring programs for children at Southwark School in South Philadelphia.
  • Children at a dozen local schools eat well thanks to Marc Vetri’s Eatiquette initiative. Funded by the Vetri Foundation, the program provides students with balanced, from-scratch meals loaded with fruits and vegetables. Serving lunches family-style, the interactive program enlists the students as peer servers and in doing so encourages respectful conversation, teamwork, patience and sharing, as well as basic table service skills, an awareness of how healthy food makes them feel and other niceties of dining. org
  • Not content to rest on the success of his popular restaurant Tequila’s and Siembra Azul, the hand-crafted tequila he spent years developing to perfection, David Suro Piñera established the Siembra Azul Foundation. Since 2007, the foundation has supported the efforts of several local and international groups dedicated to providing health care services and educational support such as English language classes, computers and school supplies, among other projects.

hunger burgerPay-It-Forward Restaurants:

  • Hunger Burger, a new addition to Reading Terminal Market, gets in on the giving with its “buy one, feed one” initiative. For every burger sold, the restaurant’s owners—husband-and-wife team George and Kim Mickel—donate a portion of their proceeds to feed a child in need. Various groups will benefit from this good will, including Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry program.
  • Rosa’s Pizza is an unassuming pizza spot that has made a big difference in the lives of those with limited to no financial resources. Customers can purchase a $1 slice of pizza for themselves and pay another $1 to underwrite the cost of a slice for someone in need. Customers making a donation write a message on a blank Post-It Note, which is then stuck to the shop’s wall. Each day, about 30-40 people cash in a note for a slice. When Ellen DeGeneres heard about owner Mason Wartman’s program, she featured him on her show and surprised him with a $10,000 check.

  • Leave it to Federal Donuts to find a way to turn chicken backs from his fried-chicken-and-donuts menu into serious change to help some of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable citizens. Partnering with the Broad Street Ministry, which provides free meals and services to people in need, a group including CookNSolo (Steve Cook and James Beard Award winner Michael Solomonov) launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to open the Rooster Soup Co., a philanthropic restaurant that will sell soups made from Federal Donuts’ unused chicken backs with the net profits supporting Broad Street Ministry. The campaign raised $179,000, and the search for a restaurant location is now underway.


No Tips Allowed:

  • Tipping the staff at Girard Brasserie and Bruncherie in the city’s Fishtown neighborhood is discouraged, but the staff isn’t complaining. That’s because chef/owner Brian Oliveira and Cristian Mora pay them $13 an hour, an unheard of sum for servers, as well as paid time off, paid sick days and health benefits.

 ~ Courtesy of VISIT PHILADELPHIA®, formerly known as Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation.