Wednesday, November 25, 2009

On the Money

If you’re at all like me, you’ll probably make at least a few trips to Target this holiday season. But before you stock up on toys, ornaments, or wrapping paper, check out Target’s GiftCoins. Sold in sets of five, each coin comes pre-loaded with $5. And through December 24, Target will donate $2 from every GiftCoins purchase to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, for a maximum donation of $750,000. So hand them out to your kid’s teachers, stuff them in some stockings, or use them to make your own holiday purchases. If you’re going to spend the money there anyway (and come on, you know you are), you might as well have some of it go to a good cause.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Serenity Now

The scent of lavender has long been known for its calming effect, something we all could probably benefit from these days, thanks to the onslaught of bad news that keeps coming our way. So add some tranquility to the lives of your friends and family with these stylish lavender sachets ($15 for a set of three) from Henry Road, a Los Angeles–based studio and store that features colorful textiles by designer Paula Smail along with an eclectic assortment of home decor and gifts. Proceeds from their sale go to SOS Children’s Villages, an international organization that helps provide loving and stable homes for children who have lost their parents or who can no longer live with them.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Everyday Escapes

Wouldn’t it be nice if our bathrooms always felt like five-star spas? The Spa Bath and Spa Shower collections from Lisa Hoffman can definitely help set that mood. Featuring natural botanicals like orchid extract and palm milk, they help make any spot feel like an exotic locale, whether it’s your friend’s tiny apartment in Brooklyn or whatever hotel room your road warrior sister is currently occupying. Available in both travel- and full-size versions ($9.95 to $29), the products also help preserve the places that inspired them. A portion of the proceeds from their sale goes to the Rainforest Foundation, which was founded in 1989 by Sting and Trudie Styler and works to fight tropical deforestation around the world.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Garlands of Goodwill

Want to spread peace this holiday season? Why not extend a literal olive branch toward your neighbor, coworker, or, hey, even your mother-in-law. You can do that with a wreath made of olive, bay, and eucalyptus branches from Lindsay Olives, part of California-based Bell-Carter Foods, the largest table-olive producer in the United States. Available in 14- and 18-inch sizes, the wreaths ($30-$35) make a fragrant addition to any front door or table centerpiece. And proceeds from wreath sales go to the Meals on Wheels Association of America, the oldest and largest organization in the United States representing those who provide meal services to people in need. Order one at or by calling 800-765-2029.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Just Desserts

I’ve been known to have something of a sweet tooth, a trait that definitely runs in my family. So I can think of plenty of people who’d love to dig into one of the cakes made by Rubicon Bakery. The bakery’s part of Rubicon Programs, a Richmond, California–based nonprofit that provides employment, job training, and other support services for people who are disabled, homeless, or otherwise economically disadvantaged.

This holiday season, Williams-Sonoma will be selling the bakery’s 12-layer chocolate cake ($69.95), coconut lemon layer cake ($59.95), and gourmet marshmallows ($14.95, pictured above) through its catalog and online. Proceeds from the tasty treats help Rubicon create jobs for people with barriers to employment, such as the formerly incarcerated and those overcoming addictions. So there’s no reason to feel guilty about eating these desserts during the holidays.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lend a Hand

Dry, chapped hands are something that many of us must contend with during the winter months. The Body Shop’s Soft Hands, Kind Heart Hand Cream ($10) can not only provide some relief on that front but can also help solve a much bigger problem—child exploitation. Around $6 from every purchase goes to ECPAT-USA, which works to end child prostitution and trafficking, something that affects about 1.8 million children and young people around the world each year. It’s a simple way to help address a very complicated issue.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Face Value

Inner beauty is supposed to be what really matters, right? Well, I don’t know about you, but I feel a lot better on the inside when I look good on the outside too. Some days, that seems like an insurmountable challenge, but maybe the Wish Holiday Collection from Smashbox Cosmetics can help. Featuring full- and travel-size versions of products like Photo Finish Primer (to “create a perfect canvas for foundation application”) and Lip Enhancing Gloss (winner of Allure’s Editor’s Choice Award for Best Lip Gloss), it offers a vanity’s worth of makeup choices to solve seemingly any beauty quandary. And for every purchase from the collection, Smashbox will donate $1 to the Children’s Miracle Network, which raises funds for more than 170 children’s hospitals. Seems like a good reason to test the effects of some new eyeshadow or mascara.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Generous Greetings

When it comes to sending cards for birthdays and other occasions, I have the best intentions. But somehow, the special day always seems to arrive before I’ve gotten a card in the mail. That’s why I’m such a fan of e-cards. For every free e-card sent through from November 16 through December 31, Kraft Foods will donate 10 meals to Feeding America, which works with member food banks to help feed this country’s hungry. Each card features tips on holiday entertaining as well as recipes for dishes like baked crab rangoon and banana-sour cream cake. But the best thing is, it won’t just be my friends and family who get to enjoy a good meal.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Work It

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. That’s why, no matter how qualified you might be, what you wear to a job interview can make a difference. Dress for Success, a nonprofit based in New York, helps provide economically disadvantaged women around the world with the professional attire and career development tools they need to nail that interview and land the job. You can help out by adding a smart-looking silk scarf or necktie ($30 each) designed by Tommy Hilfiger to your own work wardrobe. The limited-edition accessories benefit Dress for Success, with $21.50 per scarf and $24.50 per necktie going directly to the organization. Find them at and in select Tommy Hilfiger stores.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Clean Fight

How can washing your hands help give a child clean water to drink? When you use Noodle & Boo’s Believe Honey Bar ($12.50) to do it. The company will funnel 100% of the profits from sales of the soap to its Raise Your Hand Campaign, which works to fund water-purification systems one village at a time. Efforts will first focus on Heeraraa, a small village in Ethiopia with a school of 200 children. So go ahead and work yourself into a lather—it’s for a good cause.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Reads with Reach

I love giving and receiving books as gifts. On my wish list this year is Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. It tells the story of Syrian-American businessman Abdulrahman Zeitoun, from his heroism in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina to his mysterious disappearance about a week after the storm. Much of the proceeds from the book will go to the newly formed Zeitoun Foundation, which will make grants to nonprofits working to rebuild New Orleans and promoting religious tolerance and understanding.

I’ll need to have plenty of tissues on hand before I read Notes Left Behind. Written by Keith and Brooke Desserich, it details their six-year-old daughter Elena’s fight against brain cancer and shares the notes she lovingly left behind for them all over their home. One hundred percent of U.S. book sale author profits will go to The Cure Starts Now, a foundation that aims to find a cure for all cancers, especially the one that took Elena’s life.

Like the Desseriches, Sorrel King writes about the loss of her 18-month-old daughter in Josie’s Story. Josie’s death was caused by medical errors, and now her mother is working to prevent others from experiencing the same tragic outcome. A portion of the book’s proceeds goes to the Josie King Foundation, which is focused on increasing patient safety and decreasing the number of fatal medical errors that occur each year.

Friday, November 6, 2009

When can a coat also be a life jacket?

Need a new coat to stay warm this winter? So do many of the Americans who find themselves homeless this year (many of whom have ended up without a home thanks to the Great Recession). You can help out by taking a "gently used" coat to any Lands’ End Shop at Sears or Lands’ End Inlet between October 29 and November 30. You’ll get 20% off the purchase of a new coat at Lands’ End, and someone in need will get some much-needed protection from the elements thanks to Lands’ End and the National Coalition for the Homeless. Kind of makes you feel all warm inside, huh? For more info, visit

A blog is born

Halloween is over and the holiday season is upon us. I always love buying Christmas gifts for family and friends, but this year, I thought about doing things a little differently. What if I tried to find as many gifts as I could that also benefited a charitable cause? That way, I could still do my usual gift shopping but also give back at the same time.

It seemed like a good plan, but when I searched the Web for ideas, I found a little bit of info here and a little bit of info there. There wasn’t one site I could visit to find a good list of products that benefited charities.

So I decided to try to create that site. As I find them, I’ll be adding everything from beauty products to housewares that make great gifts AND make gifts to nonprofits. That way, I can still have fun shopping, but I can feel a little less guilty about the money I’m spending. And who doesn’t want to feel a little less guilt?