Charitable Gift Giving

We surf the Web to find good products that help out a great cause.

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Bamboo socks from Australia that help animals

June 27th, 2021 · Uncategorized

My favorite animal is the panda. I could sit for hours at the National Zoo or the San Diego Zoo and watch one of those chubby critters sit, break, and chew on bamboo stalks and leaves (and I have). And so when I saw this sock brand’s logo, it got my attention.

One thing you may not know is that in addition to being a tasty treat, bamboo fiber can be spun into clothing. In fact, bamboo fiber is naturally breathable and allows moisture to evaporate mor quickly, meaning that your sweat doesn’t stay in your socks and your socks don’t stink. Bamboo also has great insulation qualities–it keeps your feet cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

These socks are made of a bamboo and organic cotton blend, meaning they’ll benefit from the best of both kinds of fibers. Reviewers rave about how soft and comfortable they are, as well as the beautiful colors.

Even better, a portion of each sale is donated to animal charities. This year, they’re donating to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital and Wildlife Victoria, who is helping animals who were harmed by Australia’s brush fires last year.

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Great gift for cat and coffee lovers

June 23rd, 2021 · Uncategorized

I had to do a double-take on this Etsy product called “Cat Coffee”–for a moment I thought it was talking about cat poop coffee, something I’ve heard about for a while but never quite dared to try (even if I could afford it).

But no, these are just regular roasted coffee beans for sale that haven’t gone through any creature’s digestive tract. That said, if reviews are any indication, people love it anyway.

This is dark roasted coffee which you can buy in any grind–whole beans, course, fine, drip, percolator, Turkish, and French Press. It’s sold out of a coffee and tea shop in Lilitz, Pennsylvania. The coffee itself comes from Brazil and has more than 14,000 sales and practically all 5-star reviews. There’s also a lighter roast version available.

At $5.25 for a quarter pound, it’s not a whole lot more expensive than that Starbucks bilge you get from Walmart, especially if you factor in the free shipping for orders over $35. And it’s nice to know you’re supporting a small business in a small town that still knows the art of sourcing great coffee. Furthermore, a portion of proceeds goes to help local cat rescues!

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“Wishing” Bracelets

June 21st, 2021 · Uncategorized

Emma Dalby operates a store on Etsy called DollBeeDesigns. She offers cute and remarkably affordable bracelets for sale. The designs are invariably adorable; in recent years she’s offered bracelets with charms shaped like acorns, stars, lightning bolts, dinosaurs, horseshoes, snowflakes, tiny feet, and many more to suit just about any occasion.

bracelet to help charity

As adorable the charms are, the more meaningful part of this gift is that it comes with a card with an inspirational quote or thoughtful message perfect for a huge range of specific gift-giving occasions. One design specifically is to invite someone to be a bridemaid. Another is to congratulate your “star” teammates at work. There are designs to thank someone for being a teaching assistant or a great sister, and designs to congratulate someone on retirement or a new baby. And dozens of other occasions and wishes.

And all bracelets come with a “promise”: Wear the bracelet and make a wish. Once the bracelet wears off and the charm falls…your wish may just come true!

These bracelets and cards are much more meaningful and personal than the factory-produced drivel you find at your local pharmacy.

This particular design comes with a poignant story. In 2018 Ms. Dalby’s father was on vacation with her mother, and he suddenly passed away of heart failure, with no symptoms. Just the day before, both her parents had been cycling. Emma and her brothers and sister set up a fundraising page to remember their dad and to raise funds for their local cardiovascular prevention and rehabilitation charity.

Today is Father’s Day 2021, and I’m sure the Dalbys still miss their dad as much as I miss mine. Help support a brilliant small business and a great cause by buying a bunch of these bracelets for your gift closet. They’ll mean more to your friends and your coworkers than anything.

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Rett Syndrome Necklace that helps Retts Research

June 17th, 2021 · Uncategorized

There are lots of places you can find gifts that promote awareness for common diseases and ailments like cancer and heart disease. In fact, for some cases fundraising through gift giving has become an industry in itself.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the years highlighting those kinds of products, and of course I’ll continue to. But I also love to bring attention to causes that no one knows about. Here is one of them.

Rett Syndrome is a very rare neurological disorder that results in severe muscle movement. It happens to girls primarily, and can be extremely debilitating. It’s perhaps hardest on the parents. For the first 6 to 18 months of a child’s life, they may see their baby developing naturally, and then Rett syndrome can hit between 12 and 18 months over a short period of time, where their child suddenly can lose the ability to move their hands, walk, or communicate.

Often, there’s a feeling of helplessness and even guilt among the parents, even though there’s nothing they could do to prevent it. It’s a genetic disorder that affects the MECP2 gene, which is found on the X chromosome.

There’s no cure for Rett syndrome, maybe in part because it’s such a rare disease (under 20,000 cases a year) that most funding and efforts go towards other diseases. But of course for the families that experience Rett’s, it’s life-altering, as the child will need constant care for the rest of her life. And yet with a loving home, a young girl with Retts can live a full life.

I chose this gift to highlight because it was designed by a jewelry maker on Etsy with an amazing story. She’s a scientist, researcher, and art instructor who, as she puts it on her Etsy profile has an unlikely Super Power–autism. She and her husband (also on the spectrum) have designed incredible jewelry, including jewelry based on the amazing patterns that happen in nature’s molecules. Check out her designs for the molecule for catnip (perfect for cat lovers), and the molecule for caffeine (for coffee lovers), and dozens more.

This particular pattern hits especially close to home. It’s a rendition of the IGF-1 molecule of the brain. People with Rett Syndrome have a decreased level of IGF-1. There’s promising research around therapeutics involving this molecule that gives hope to girls and their families suffering from Retts, including one of the artist’s own daughters.

It’s a beautiful piece on its own, but so much more meaningful when you know the story behind it. And when people ask you about it, you can help bring attention this ailment that needs a lot more attention and funding.

Portion of proceeds goes to Girl Power 2 Cure, a charity dedicated to finding a cure. Visit here to make a direct donation yourself. You can also learn more about Rett Syndrome here and here.

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Soy Candles that Help Charity

June 8th, 2021 · Uncategorized

I’ve been seeing Dilly Dally candles all over Etsy and Amazon. The first thing they got right is the names of their candles. Here’s a sampling of what they have on Amazon.

Visit their Web site for other flavors like Blueberry Cobbler, Gingerbread, and Lemon Pound Cake.

Dilly Dally candles come in two sizes, 9 ounces and 16 ounces. They’re made of 100% natural soy wax and essential oils.

Soy wax is preferable to paraffin in almost every way. Most people don’t realize that paraffin wax is a byproduct of crude oil refinement–this is why candles made from paraffin are so cheap and found in every cheap store, usually mass produced overseas. Because of the way it’s produced, paraffin wax can contain dangerous chemicals such as toluene.

Soy wax, on the other hand, is a vegetable wax that’s produced from soybean oil. The vast majority of soybeans are grown right here in the USA, in Indiana, Iowa, and Illinois. As you can imagine, soy is completely renewable and as “green” as it gets. Specifically, as soybean oil is extracted from soy beans, it undergoes a process called hydrogenation, which solidifies the oil until it becomes a wax.

If you’ve burned a paraffin-based candle, you’ll also notice black soot all over the walls, and all of that’s going into your lungs. Soy candles burn cleanly without toxins or chemicals, and are completely natural.

Dilly Dally candles are 100% natural soy wax and essential oils, and all handmade in New Hampshire. Aside from supporting a small business in the USA by buying these candles, a portion of proceeds goes to childhood cancer research. The name “Dilly Dally” refers to Dylan, the founders’ child who when he was three years old lost his right eye to a rare eye cancer called retinoblastoma. Per their Website, Dylan is a healthy, cancer-free 15 year old teenager right now, but his

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Best Dog Poop Bags

June 6th, 2021 · Uncategorized

Most states are starting to ban plastic shopping bags at grocery stores. One of the unintended consequences of that is that now dog owners around the country have to go and buy expensive Hefty or Glad bags to take care of their best friend’s business, resulting in even more plastic being sent to landfills from bags that are much thicker than the old grocery store bags, not to mention a hefty profit (no pun intended) to the big companies that make them.

If you’ve shopped for doggy do bags, you know it’s almost impossible to find a bag that’s not so thick that it takes years to degrade and not so thin that it’ll fall apart in your hands the moment it touches anything wet.

These biodegradable bags from the aptly named Doggy Do Good Store on Amazon provides a great solution. For under $30 you can purchase 180 biodegradable bags that break down in just 90 days. And yet if you read the reviews, you’ll see rave comments. They’re thick enough (20 microns or .80 Mils thick) to not get residue (resi-doo?) on your hands and will not leak. And yet they’re so well made that they come easily off their roll and open easily.

Doggy Do Good is a mom-and-pop (mom-and-poop?) company based in the US. Every purchase gives back at least 10% back to the following animal rescues and no-kill shelters.

  • The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
  • The Humane Society of the United States
  • The Gentle Barn
  • Animal Welfare Institute
  • Friends of Animals
  • Best Friends Animal Society

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Portraits of Immigrants from President Bush

June 4th, 2021 · Uncategorized

Many ex-presidents have crossed the rubicon from being pilloried or ridiculed in the media to being respected elder statesmen. Richard Nixon managed to rehabilitate his image by the end of his life to be recognized as a foreign policy thought leader. Jimmy Carter left office ignominiously but is recognized today for his humble charity work.

When George W. Bush left office, he turn, of all things, to oil painting. Lot of people ridiculed his efforts, calling them amateurish and pedestrian. But then, strangely enough, the art world started to take notice. Through these “childish” paintings, somehow he managed to evoke the deeper essence of his subjects.

In 2017, he published a book called “Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors” that shared paintings and stories of military veterans. This year, he followed that up with “Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants“. He stays well of politics (even to the point of delaying the publication of this book until it was well after the presidential elections), and created this book of paintings and stories of some of America’s most inspirational and successful immigrant stories.

While the news media seems intent on separating us and politicians on all sides seem intent on using immigrants as pawns in in their never-ending chess match, President Bush’s book is a wonderful attempt to bring us together by reminding us that every one of us immigrated from somewhere else, and it’s immigration that’s the lifeblood of this country. One need look no further than the glowing Amazon reviews from both the left and the right celebrating this book.

Proceeds from this book are being donated to organizations that help legal immigrants, as well as to the Bush Institute’s work on immigration.

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Children’s Book on Losing a Grandmother

June 2nd, 2021 · Uncategorized

All too often, a child will lose a beloved grandparent at far too early an age. Too often, adults–sometimes stricken with grief themselves–are unable to explain to their children why they’ll never see the person they loved again, at least not on this side of heaven. This is a book written by Tracy Harding and illustrated by Mosca Anna that tackles the subject head-on.

The writing and illustrations are at once touching, tasteful, and beautiful and the book is suitable for reading to kids young and older as they think back fondly on the loved one they lost and grieve about their absence.

100% of all profits go to the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, the hosptial where the author’s own mother was treated for cancer. The title character is named after her niece who was the youngest person in her family and who had a close relationship with the author’s mother.

You can purchase a copy of the book on Amazon.

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Giant Rat Stuffed Animal

May 31st, 2021 · Uncategorized

If you’re a parent, you’ve probably noticed that stuffed animals aren’t as special to your child these days as they were to you when you were their age. When we were kids, our parents could maybe afford one or two stuffed animals that we’d cherish throughout our childhood.

But as manufacturing has gotten cheap, it seems that most kids have dozens or even hundreds of stuffed animals…bunnies, sheep, dogs, cats, fish, turtles, penguins, bears, elephants, unicorns, monkeys, pandas, foxes. Go to the zoo, the ballpark, the mall, a resort, and chances are yet another one is joining the menagerie. And don’t get me started with Disney.

After a while, you begin to notice that every stuffed animal is the same. So many of them are just rolled off a factory assembly line. At some point, your kid may have so many nondescript plush animals devoid of any uniqueness or personality that you wonder if they should be paying you rent.

Shelter Pets is a company that breaks the mold–literally. It’s a company with a unique idea–they learned the stories of real animals that were adopted from non-profit shelters and created unique stuffed animals based on them. For example, the little guy you see above is named Chunk the rat, who was donated from the Seattle Human shelter. You can read his story here.

Look through Shelter Pets’ Web site and you’ll see other pets and pet stories, from Ostera the bunny who survived a vicious dog attack, to Oakland the husky puppy with his one orange eye and one blue eye, to Rosie the Guinea Pig, rescued while she was pregnant.

For every Shelter Pet sold, 10% of sales are donated to non-profit animal shelters, including the shelter that the actual animal who inspired the stuffie came from. You can buy cheap stuffed animals of boring dogs and bears anywhere, but here’s where you can a unique one with an interesting story that you can use to teach your child about compassion, treating animals with care, and the important work that non-profit shelters do.

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COVID Post-Pandemic Thank You Cards from Black Tabby Studio

May 30th, 2021 · Uncategorized

post pandemic thank you cardsAs we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a good time to think of all those people since last March who have helped you. From doctors, nurses, and EMT personnel to delivery drivers, restaurant owners, and volunteers of all kinds, a lot of people stepped up in the last year to make the insanity just a little more sane. And many of them quite literally put their lives on the line to help. 

Before things get back to normal, think over all these people and jot them a note to say thanks.

These Thank You cards from the Sugartown Greetings line of cards from Black Tabby Studios, available on Amazon, are a good way to get started. They have minimalist, modern hand-drawn designs that look so much more personal and sincere than the superficial, hackneyed, mass-produced junk you see from Hallmark and American Greetings.

There’s a lot to love about these cards. They’re made in the USA and printed on 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper, and yet the paper has a premium quality about it. And 10% of all proceeds are donated to charities that help nature in meaningful ways, like maintaining nature trails and rehabilitating wildlife here in the US, to building schools and providing water to families in impoverished areas overseas.

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