Gifts That Give Back, 2012!

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

It’s cyber-Monday! As has become tradition here, I’ve included some ideas below for gifts that give back. This year I focused on people and organizations that are close to my heart….so there aren’t as many, but I can vouch for each.


Our dear friends Quentin and Jessica McCuiston are hoping to adopt a little girl from South Africa, but international adoption is expensive. They still need to raise close to $20,000 dollars before Christmas in order to bring this particular little girl home with them. I know without a doubt these two will be amazing parents. They are creative, fun, courageous, wise, committed to their faith, and they make a great team together. I’ve known them since high school and could not be more proud to call them friends.


One way you can help out is by purchasing fair trade coffee from Just Love. This stuff is tasty, let me tell you!  Best of all, for every bag of coffee you order, $5 goes to Quentin and Jessica’s adoption fund.

I recommend the fair trade Sumatra and the fair trade Ethiopian Sidamo: Oromia


Or, you can always just make a tax-deductible donation to Quentin and Jessica’s adoption fund via Lifesong. Quentin and Jessica’s home church, Apostles NYC, has paired with Lifesong and has graciously given a matching grant of $5,000, so your donation will go a long way! Be sure to specify preference McCuiston #3252 adoption in the form provided. 


If you’ve spent much time on the blog, you know I’m a big fan of Hill Country Hill Tribers, a non-profit that provides supplemental income and marketable skills for Burmese refugee artisans living in Austin, Texas. Not only do I love their products—(I own three necklaces that always get compliments)—I love their community. As you may remember, we partnered with HCHT for our Women of Valor essay contest. One of my favorite contributions to that series was the story of Ra Noe, a HCHT artisan and true woman of valor.  

For gifts, I recommend one of the kachin necklaces made by Christine, or the woven eternity scarf made by Ra Noe.



If you’ve been considering purchasing an Old & New print since you saw the project featured on the blog a few months ago, today would be a great day to do it. Old & New donates proceeds from print sales to Blood: Water Mission, a fantastic charity. For Cyber Monday, they’re hoping to raise $300 in print sales. As a special offer, they’ve reduced the prices in their Soceity6 shop today. With each print sale, they’ll make $2 for Blood:Water Mission, which means if they sell 150 prints, they’ll reach their goal of $1,000 donated this year—a mark that will provide a rain-water catchment tank in Lwala, Kenya.  These are gorgeous prints. You my recognize a few that have been featured on the blog:

Design by  Brian Danaher for the Old & New Project

Design by Brian Danaher for the Old & New Project

D  esign by  Lindsey Mccormack  for the  Old & New project , used with permission.
Design by Lindsey Mccormack for the Old & New project, used with permission.


Don’t forget to buy fair trade for you stocking stuffers!

My #1 favorite:  
Divine 70% Dark Chocolate with Raspberries

My #2 favorite: 
Equal Exchange Organic Dark Chocolate with Almonds

My #3 favorite: 
Green & Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate Espresso

Bath & Body

Founded in 1997 by Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest on Vanderbilt's campus, Magdalene is a residential program for women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction and life on the streets. Thistle Farms is the organization’s social enterprise. The women of valor enrolled in the program create natural body care products and candles.

I recommend the travel survival kit.


Pure Charity & The Legacy Project: So this is pretty cool. With Pure Charity, your everyday purchases at stores like Target, Best Buy, and Walmart can earn you money back in a personal giving fund.  All it will cost you is a few minutes of time to sign up with Pure Charity. You can still shop sales and promotional prices, and the rewards will add up with no cost to you. And once you’ve racked up a little money in your fund, you can in turn donate the money to a cause on Pure Charity. I suggest supporting the Legacy Project from Help One Now. Some of our favorite bloggers—Sarah Bessey, Kristen Howerton, Mary DeMuth, and Jen Hatmaker—are building a school in Haiti, an I don’t know about you, but I dig the idea of a portion of my wrapping paper purchases going toward this goal! 

Ten Thousand Villages: one of the world’s largest fair trade organizations and a founding member of  the World Fair Trade Organization, Ten Thousand Village has been around for a long time and has just about the best variety you’ll find online. (They also have plenty of brick-and-mortar stores across the country.) You can always count on beautiful, quality products from Ten Thousand Villages.  They’ve got some pretty serious Cyber Monday deals going on today.

Goats and Stuff (for others, not you)

From World Vision: Ducks ($18), chickens ($25), or a goat ($75). In Bolivia, I saw firsthand just how effective World Vision’s agricultural fund can be. The gift of livestock helps families lift themselves out of poverty in a way that is sustainable and dignifying. Last Christmas, we gave chickens in honor of extended family members who live far away, and each of them received a personalized Christmas card letting them know that a chicken had been given in their name. It was a hit, and so much better than sending bulky packages or gift cards they may or may not use. You can check out their gift catalog here


From Samaritan’s Purse - an organization that is swift in responding to disaster relief and does amazing things to help refugees around the world. You can check out their gift catalog here

From CWJC - Christian Women's Job Corp: This is another organization my sister has worked for (yeah, she's that kind of woman), and I know from firsthand experience it does amazing work. Right now, during the CWJC's "Be a Light" campaign, you can choose a "star" that will help empower a family in middle Tennessee break the cycle of poverty. $25 will provide free childcare for a child of a mom or dad enrolled in computer classes. $50 will provide a job coach to an unemployed job seeker. $125 will pay a single mom’s GED testing fee. $250 will enroll internationally-born residents in Conversational English Classes. $500 will provide food, rent assistance, and bus passes for an unemployed woman as she searches for jobs. $1,000 will enroll a GED graduate in a college/job training program. Learn more here. 

Christmas Cards

I love Unicef’s Christmas cards because they have so many bright and colorful ones to choose from. I buy them almost every year. But you can find a nice list of charities that make Christmas cards—from Autism Speaks to The Humane Society to The Make a Wish Foundation—here.


I’ve got my own little Cyber Monday deal today. Leave a comment in the comment section with your own suggestions for gifts that give back and you will automatically be entered to win a signed copy of A Year of Biblical Womanhood. Contest runs through 12 a.m., November 27.

So, what gift ideas do you want to share?

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