Gift Giving – Making a Difference

Date November 30, 2009

GiftIf you are like me, in the last week you have received a barrage of emails and catalogs – Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all sorts of “deals” on stuff.  In most years, this rings hallow to me but even more so this year.  I feel a need to give love and caring to the people in my life; something that can’t be found in the newest video game or perfume.

Those of you that know me, know that I like to make my gifts but never seem to have enough time to finish everything.   I have shelves full of empty jam jars, half finished knitted scarves, one felted slipper, beads that need to become jewelry, and so on.  I know it’s the thought that counts but I need to put a lot more than just thought into finishing these gifts!

I once had a teacher send an email to all the parents asking that we not give him “another coffee mug or book that says Teachers are Great”.  (Apparently he already knows that Teachers are Great.)  He suggested something else if we felt the need to recognize him during the holiday – Heifer International.   Love it!!  An entire catalog where the kids can give honeybees, flocks of chicks, goats and even a baby pig on their teacher’s behalf.  Heifer’s mission is to end world hunger and poverty and care for the earth.  So if you would like to give a gift to a loved one who is passionate about building sustainable global communities, then I highly recommend checking out Heifer International. 

This year I learned about a new and local nonprofit organization called TisBest in the PSBJ. They have created a wonderful Charity Gift Card where the lucky recipient can choose from more than 250 national nonprofits and local organizations to donate the value of the card.  I love that I can give a TisBest card and let the my friends select the charity that they believe in.  The list of charities (including Heifer) covers just about everything from the arts to humanitarian causes with new organizations being added all the time.  To date, TisBest has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity.  I like the option of non-material giving for corporate gifts! 

My final favorite thing for any time of year is GlassyBaby with it’s gorgeous hand-blown glass votives.  Their tagline “flowers wilt, chocolates melt, glassybaby forever” says it all.  A lot of us Seattlites know GlassyBaby back to her Green Lake days.  Gina and I were fortunate enough to meet Lee Rhodes in her Madrona glass blowing studio and interview her for an upcoming “40 over 40” profile.  Lee is a cancer survivor, busy mother of three (she left the interview to deliver a school lunch to her daughter), entrepreneur and all-around inspiring woman.  This year GlassyBaby now has five stores and an upcoming partnership with Amazon.  The online store is great but nothing beats holding these little beauties in your hands.  The wonderful thing about GlassyBaby is that they support cancer research/treatment and some of the votives donate a portion of their sale to specific organizations.  This recently touched home for me when I learned that my son’s 12-year-old friend who has been courageously fighting brain cancer, has received care from some of the organizations that have votives.  So my new favorite “Babys” are “True White” and “Sarah’s Strength“.  The True White candle benefits the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance where Hannah has been treated.  (The SCCA is comprised of Children’s, the Univ of WA Medical Center, and the Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center).  Sarah’s Strength is a gift set of two votives, established in honor of a young girl named Sarah who has a brain tumor similar to Hannah’s and is also treated by Hannah’s doctor at Children’s.  Proceeds from Sarah’s Strength go directly to Dr. Jim Olson’s research lab at Fred Hutch.  Dr. Olson may be the one who finds the cure for pediatric brain tumors!  So I love that by giving someone a beautiful glass votive I can also contribute to cancer treatment and research.

We are all here for each other!  This season I’m throwing away the ads and looking to companies that make a difference like TisBest and GlassyBaby for gift giving.  I’m proud that both of these companies are based in Seattle and who knows, maybe supporting them will lead to a few new jobs in town!  

Posted by Chris Englin 

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