Gifts that Give Back

By Kristen Johnson

It’s that time of year again, when mobs of people run to the mall to buy more and more gifts – many of which are made overseas, by people who are working in terrible conditions without appropriate environmental restrictions. If you must give presents this year, please consider giving gifts that “give back” to the community. Here are a few of my personal favorites:

Giftback: It’s simple – you pick out lovely gift baskets for family friends, and then choose from a large list of charities for 10% of your purchase to go to. Each gift basket comes with a card so the recipient knows which charity the 10% funded. We did this for out-of-town friends and family members last year for Christmas and it was a big hit!

Global Goods Partners: You can purchase a wide variety of handcrafted goods, which are created by women living in poverty in the Global South. All items are Fair Trade and work to alleviate poverty and to create economic opportunity for artisans. Jewelry, accessories, home goods, etc. – all beautifully crafted!

Thistle Farms: Absolutely one of my favorite organizations – they provide jobs for victims of sex trafficking, prostitution, and addiction. Handcrafted soaps, lotions, gifts and more are available. This organization employs 50 survivors and they also work with other global partners, employing many more.

Sewing Hope: This fabulous organization provides jobs for women in Uganda and South Sudan who suffered as the result of Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army. These talented artisans are empowered and learning to make their own living with dignity by creating the most stunning handbags, jewelry, and clothing. Incredibly, these amazing items are made from coke-can tabs! Get ready to be amazed.

Threads Worldwide: I recently purchased some of their jewelry at a Fair Trade event and the craftsmanship is really amazing. This wonderful organization provides life-changing work for women around the world. They employ women in dozens of cooperatives around the world. Everyone is paid a fair wage, in good working conditions, with no slave or child labor. Artisans are paid up front for the work that they do, regardless of sale! You will admire the beautiful products available for purchase.

Please prayerfully consider where your goods are manufactured before you purchase them, as well as the environmental consequences of your gifts. Giving gifts that are made by slaves, that destroy the environment, or require infringing on the rights of others is certainly not the way to celebrate the “Christ” in Christmas.

Isaiah 1:17 (NRSV): learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.

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