The Season of Giving, and Giving Back

By Alexandra Beane — November 26, 2012

At this time of year, the pressure is on to find the right gifts for everyone. There are many ways to make the holidays about giving back rather than just giving gifts. We have gathered some great ideas for unique and fashionable presents that friends, family, and co-workers will enjoy, and will also benefit worthy causes, while spreading the word about organizations doing good work around the world.

Falling Whistles

Founded by Sean Carasso, who made a life-changing trip to Congo in 2008, where he met five young boys who had been abducted from their families, tied up, beaten, and forced to kill. One of the boys said that children too small to carry guns were sent to the frontlines armed with only a whistle. That is how the name “Falling Whistles” originated. They group works to help children escape from the war-torn region, and to rehabilitate children who were forced onto the frontlines of war.

Falling Whistles offers a way for people to show their support for peace in Congo and contribute to the cause by doing something as simple as wearing a whistle. Starting at $34.00, the whistles are a symbol of protest to evoke dialogue, spread much-needed awareness, and help change the lives of these children. The whistles are sold online at the Falling Whistles site, as well as at retailers in the U.S., Canada, and Australia.


Made For Good

The goal is to “raise money and awareness for charitable organizations through sales” and give people an easy way to participate in humanitarian causes. They have partnered with a number of brands, including Jedidiah Clothing and MusiCares to sell shirts, other apparel, and accessories. Customers can choose to shop by cause, and can also make an added donation when they make a purchase. Causes include disaster relief, education, environment, human trafficking, micro-financing, poverty, and water. Items can be purchased at the Made For Good.

John Bartlett’s Tiny Tim Collection

The Collection reflects the designer’s love of animals, and one very special dog in particular. All items in this collection (for men, women, and dogs) feature a logo of a three-legged pit bull, which honors the memory of Bartlett’s own three-legged rescue, Tiny Tim, who was a popular denizen of their New York neighborhood. The money raised with this collection goes to the Tiny Tim Rescue Fund, which helps animal rescue groups take dogs and cats from high-kill shelters and provide them with the medical and psychological rehabilitation they need to find a good home. The Tiny Tim Collection is sold at The Fund’s motto is “Rescuing one animal may not change the world…but for that one animal – their world will be changed forever.”


FEED Projects

Co-founded by model and designer Lauren Bush, sells apparel and accessories for adults and children, in addition to its original FEED bags, with proceeds going to the FEED Foundation, which provides meals to people all over the world. Products vary greatly in price, with many of the higher-end items are designed in partnership with retailers and designers like Donna Karan, Dean & DeLuca, and Links of London. Customers can choose a particular area of the world they want to contribute to with their purchase. FEED Projects offers a stocking and candle for the holidays, as well as a pouch with Clarins products. They have recently added FEED NYC items to their line, with proceeds helping those impacted by Hurricane Sandy. The products are sold by retailers worldwide, and can be ordered online at the FEED Projects site. For more information on the FEED Foundation’s work, see our recent article  by clicking here.

A Scent of Scandal 

The Los Angeles-based candle line created by brother and sister team Ari Solomon and Heather Brancaccio. All candles come in 8 oz. tins and are hand-poured from 100% soy wax. They are vegan and cruelty-free. A Scent of Scandal offers three Candles for a Cause, with 15% of the proceeds going to Farm Sanctuary, Sea Shepard, and Kind Green Planet. They also have several holiday scents – Ho Ho Homo, Santa’s Pole, Challahback Girl, and Hanukkah Bush, as well as a number of other selections. Many of the names are a bit risqué, so, that is something to keep in mind when determining the recipients. The candles are sold at a number of retailers throughout the U.S., and in a few other countries, but can be ordered online at their website.


Epic Timepieces

Inspired by Jeff and Jackie Bird’s trip to Haiti in 2010, where they were helping with the post-earthquake relief effort, and saw firsthand the critical need for clean drinking water. Their company, Epic International, was founded with “philanthropy at its core.”  The purchase of every Epic watch raises funds to provide clean drinking water through the distribution of water filters. Each filter can provide clean water to six to eight people.

Many people in developing countries get their drinking and bathing water from local rivers and streams that are polluted with trash, waste and chemicals that cause such diseases as cholera, E. coli, and diphtheria. Epic employees go back to Haiti periodically to deliver filters, and have visited there twice this year.

The watches in the Catalyst Collection come in a variety of colors, with interchangeable bands, and sell for $49.95. The watches in the new Philanthropist Collection sell for $100.00 and $125.00. For more information on the company and their work, and to order a watch, visit the Epic Timepieces site. For a look at the Birds’ volunteer work in Haiti, see Jackie’s article “To Truly ‘Live’” in the October issue of Global Looking Glass.


The Company was started just this August by the owners of the Apricot Lane fashion boutiques in order to fight the growing crime of sex trafficking. Fifty percent of the proceeds from the sale of their initial products, the3Strands bracelets, go to support the Agape International Missions (AIM), and the Agape Training Center (ATC) in Cambodia. ATC provides counseling, education, and work to victims of sex trafficking. Girls who are over 16 make jewelry and apparel, and earn a salary several times higher than they would in a typical factory in the region. They also receive free lunches, medical benefits, and day care if they have children.

The bracelets, which are sold on the 3Strands , are made by the girls in the center. They are comprised of three strands of waxed cotton cord to represent the “strength built upon the foundation of freedom, love and empowerment.” Each bracelet features a red sandalwood seed to represent the life of a girl rescued from sex trafficking, “ready to grow because of the efforts of 3Strands.” There are currently four styles, and sell for $18.00. They come in a colorful palm leaf box with an informational brochure about the organization, signed by the girl who made the bracelet.

Revenge Is

Offers a line of t-shirts that make a statement about a variety of environmental social issues, including endangered species, animal rescue, healthy eating, and same-sex marriage. Their motto is, “The best revenge is living well… and looking hot while helping others.” They donate at least 5% of their net sales to charitable organizations including Defenders of Wildlife, Inner City Arts, Love Honor Cherish, and Humane Farm Animal Care. Their shirts are made either 100% from organic cotton, a blend of recycled plastic bottles (RPET) and organic cotton, or other eco-friendly materials.

Revenge Is shirts are often seen on celebrities – many of whom have been photographed in their “All Love Is Equal” shirts. Actress Kaley Cuoco of The Big Bang Theory has even designed two t-shirts dedicated to her own rescue dogs. A portion of the net sales of Kaley’s shirts will be donated to the Friends of Animals Foundation, a rescue group in Los Angeles. Revenge Is shirts can be purchased on their website, which also provides more information about the company, their causes, and the charities to which they contribute.

In addition to buying gifts that give back this holiday season, you can make an impact with your own wish list, by asking friends, family, and co-workers to make a donation to your favorite non-profit group rather than give you a present. Make it easy by giving them the website link where they can go to make a donation in your name. Both in giving and receiving, we can all make a difference, and educate ourselves and others about good work being done by so many people year ‘round.

Courtesy Images: Falling Whistles,Fashionable,Feed Projects, A ,Epic Timepieces,3Strands and Revenge Is.

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