Holiday Gifts That Give Back

opportunity international
By Stephanie Oswald

"World peace and an end to global poverty" might sound like the starry-eyed goals of a beauty pageant contestant, but there are old and new organizations that let you contribute to those causes while making someone in your life happy, too. And what better time to help improve conditions in the world than the holiday season?

Giving gifts that give back is a great way to do good in the world and "vote with your wallet." An added perk of non-material gifts is that you can show loved ones how much you care without adding more stuff to their homes.

Rather than yet another tie, vase or electronic gadget, you can pay tribute to someone's favorite park, plant a carbon-reducing tree in someone's name or finance a budding (but impoverished) entrepreneur on the other side of the planet.

Even one of the most well-known philanthropic organizations, Heifer International, has added a new program: Heifer at Hanukkah, providing gift options that encourage the Jewish principles of tzedakah (charity) and tikkun olam (world repair).

If you are someone who prioritizes humanitarian action, keep this guide handy for anyone asking what you would like to receive for the holidays. If it's important for you to give a wrapped present, you can always print out a card from the organization's website - but the power behind these gifts extends far beyond that. Helping others and knowing you're making a difference is truly sending joy to the world.

Gifts That Give Back
See Gallery
Holiday Gifts That Give Back

For as little as $10, you can help with microfinancing, loan programs and educational initiatives around the planet. Opportunity International, a nonprofit organization, sells gift cards in all denominations that can be redeemed online. Cardholders choose a person to help finance then receive updates on what's happening in that person's world.


By Next Avenue

For every pair of Roma Boots sold, Roozt will give a child in need a matching pair. Every time someone signs up for the free membership, Roozt will provide a meal to a hungry American through Feeding America. $40–$80.

By Next Avenue

In some countries, lack of financial means prevents girls (but not boys) from getting a basic school education. But rather than "giving a girl a fish," each $275 donation to this Heifer International program provides a girl's struggling family with livestock and trains the family to make enough money from it to pay for school fees and supplies.

By Next Avenue

Eco-Friendly WeWood Watches are one-of-a-kind timepieces. They're made from all-natural, chemical-free scrap materials, and for every watch sold, the American Forestry Association will plant a tree. $119–$139.

By Next Avenue

Trade in your smartphone for cash and generate a donation to help support U.S. military personnel, veterans and their families. With the program, consumers get the cash trade-in value, while Operation Gratitude gets $5 for military care packages. (Another perk of this original program: Phones are properly recycled.)

By Next Avenue


Journalist Stephanie Oswald is a television host, travel and lifestyle expert and the editor-in-chief of Travelgirl.
Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.