Wednesday, December 13, 2017

#HGG2017: Gifts That Give Back

There are many ways we can give back to our communities and to communities around the world at this giving time of year. Here are just a few organisations that offer gifts that give back, to provide you with meaningful options as you wind up your holiday shopping. Whether your recipient is interested in children's health, animal welfare, social causes, or assistance in the developing world, you'll find something here!

The Starlight Foundation

The Starlight Children's Foundation works to improve the experiences of critically ill children with both in hospital and out of hospital programming. Each year they work with one of their Starlight kids to design a bear. These Starlight Bears are sold at ToysRUs stores and at, with all proceeds going back to fund the foundation's work. This year's bear is Sloan, designed by 5 year old Sloan, who lives with a life-threatening intestinal disease. Her 14 year old sister, Abby, has the same disease and has already undergone 15 operations. Her bear was inspired by Sloan’s love for everything purple and the comforting feeling of hugging something soft and cozy. The butterfly on her foot represents the magic she finds within herself to spread her wings and soar above each obstacle she faces every day.

Sloan retails for $19.99. This is a wonderful gift for a young child on your list. They get a tangible, soft and cuddly toy, and The Starlight Children's Foundation receives a much-needed donation.

SickKids Foundation Get Better Gifts

The SickKids Foundation Get Better Gifts are designed to bring a little joy and normalcy to children during their hospital stays. Around 300 kids spend the holidays at SickKids each year. You can choose a gift of baking supplies, books for the children's library, video games & controllers, or fill a stocking, provide a meal for an ill child and their family, or donate to support the purchase of a wish list gift for one of these special kids.

Your gift recipient receives a thoughtful card (email, pdf, or printed card with envelope). A child at the Hospital for Sick Children receives some joy. You receive a tax receipt. We've chosen to purchase Get Better Gifts as teacher gifts again this year. A donation of books to the children's library, or a purchase of arts & crafts supplies are great options for the teachers in your child's life.

Me to We

Me to We is the brainchild of Craig and Marc Kielburger, founders as well of Free the Children and WE Day. Every purchase you make gives a life-changing gift to a child or family in WE Charity’s partner communities, from school supplies to health care to alternative income opportunities and more. And you can even see where your gift was delivered, and how it transforms a life with their Track Your Impact tool. I have a soft spot for the rafiki bracelets, which are crafted by local women artisans in Kenya. But the range of gifts includes a great variety - mittens and scarves, jewelry, wallets, toys, journals, and more.

Me to We products can be purchased online at, at Staples stores, and at Your recipient receives a tangible gift, and a financial or tangible contribution helps to empower families and children in the developing world.

UNICEF Canada Survival Gifts

UNICEF Survival Gifts provide crucial aid to children living in areas affected by poverty, conflict or natural disaster. When you order Survival Gifts for family or friends, real, life-changing items like vaccines, food, warm blankets, bed nets, and school supplies are shipped from UNICEF’s warehouse in Copenhagen to children and families in need around the world. Your gift recipient receives a thoughtful card, with a description of the survival gift purchased. You can choose a printed card with envelope, a printable PDF card, or send a personalized e-card with your order. And since your recipient receives the card, but not a tangible gift, your purchase is a charitable donation, for which you will receive an income tax receipt.

Ontario SPCA Paws & Give

With my love of animals, I of course have to include an option to help our furry friends. The OSPCA Paws & Give program is another way to give a symbolic gift to a loved one, while providing tangible support to those in need. In this case, it's the animals in the care of the OSPCA. You choose how you wish to support the organisation - with a gift of toys to enrich the animals' stays; animal rescue supplies; shelters for a small feral cat colony; support rehabilitation efforts and cover vet bills, and more. This is a super gift for the animal lover on your list. They will receive a card telling them about your Paws & Give gift in their honour. The animals will benefit. And you will get a tax receipt.

For a tangible gift for an animal loving child, they also provide an option to purchase/adopt one or more stuffed animals, where your recipient will receive the stuffie, an adoption certificate, and a postcard with the story of the actual rescued animal after whom they are modeled. Proceeds support the rescue and care of animals by the OSPCA. Check the online catalogue for additional merchandise gifts, like the 2018 Second Chances Calendar for $20, with a $15 tax receipt.

So, what do think? I've given you just a few of the many options out there, covering support for children and families locally and internationally, as well as animal welfare. Gifts that give back can be tangible or symbolic, but they all let your recipient know that you care and are thinking of them. Use your knowledge of their prefered causes to choose the best option.

As an added bonus, the symbolic gifts are great choices for the last minute shopper! Select your gift, check out, choose a pdf card, and print. Done :)

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