Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts for Thoughtful Hearts

8 Grams by Jon Feinstein
Benefits Housing Works
Available from Collect.Give

I love giving gifts. I really, really do. I love thinking about people. I love coming up with that special little thing they might enjoy, might be missing, or might wish for. And I love taking care when wrapping that special little thing up, and writing some sort of handmade card. Maybe there is some sort of selfish pleasure in it all, but I can't help it. I love it. I love giving gifts.

Swans and Pears by Susan Worsham
Benefits National Multiple Sclerosis Society
available from Collect.Give 

It only follows that this time of year is like a Gift Giving Field Day for me. I literally have an excuse to deeply immerse myself in the hunt for the consummate gift for every person on my list without looking like a total creep. Take it from me. People can get weirded out when you gift them too much at non-birthday or special occasion times of year. For some reason it arouses suspicion. I don't understand it really. Aren't gifts thoughtful and wonderful?  But I digress...

Old Havana Street, Cuba by Susan Raab
Benefits the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund
Available from Collect.Give

Today I've been thinking about the deep thinkers in my life: Folks who wear their heart on their sleeves, or fall asleep at night thinking about the state of the world, and what they can do to help. They are among my favorite people, and I've come up with a few ideas that will both satisfy their sentimental souls and stand-up values.

Plane Over Baton Rouge, Louisiana by Sara Macel
Benefits Camp Discovery
Available from Collect.Give

My photographer friend, Sara Macel, introduced me to a website called, Collect.Give which features a constantly growing community of photographers, whose work benefits an organization of their choice. Currently, Sara has a print up and available for purchase called Plane Over Baton Rouge. It's an evocative photograph pulled from her recent book, May the Road Rise to Meet You, a collection of stills from a cross-country trip with her telephone pole salesman father. It's a great gift for any art lover, traveler, or Americana culture devotee, and the best part is 100% of proceeds go directly to Camp Discovery,
 a week-long camp for children who have been diagnosed with cancer. 

Wisteria by Jesse Burke
Benefits National Ovarian Cancer Coalition of Rhode Island
Available from Collect.Give

While I'm partial to Sara's work, Collect.Give has a wide array of photographers whose work you can choose from and browse their charities. I've included many images on today's post, but you can peruse Collect.Give's full listings for yourself to find photographs that will speak to your thoughtfully gifted friend or family member in more ways than one.

Alvin, WI by Mark Brautigam
Benefits National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
Available from Collect.Give

Big Muskie Dragline by Daniel Shea
Benefits Coal River Mountain Watch
Available on Collect.Give

With so many regions of New York and New Jersey still suffering from Hurricane Sandy, another excellent organization to shop is Print Aid NYC, a collective of NYC artists whose contributed work benefits the Mayor's Fund for Hurricane Sandy relief, an organization committed to restoring devastated areas. The graphic prints are great gifts for any proud New Yorkers, design lovers, or even kids in your life. 

Empire State of Mind by Cole Nielsen
Benefits Hurricane Sandy victims, 
Available on Print Aid NYC

Excelsior by James Bamford
Benefits Mayor's Fund for Hurricane Sandy Relief
Available at Print Aid NYC

Strength from the Past by Micah Heiselt
Benefits Mayor's Fund for Hurricane Sandy Relief
Available at Print Aid NYC

NY Is by Adam Johnson
Benefits Mayor's Fund for Hurricane Sandy Relief
Available at Print Aid NYC

A really superb gift certificate option is available at Kiva, a non-profit organization that connects lenders to small businesses in impoverished areas. By giving as little as a $25 gift card, you can initiate a micro-lending cycle that can continue giving for years to come. I've had great experiences lending through Kiva and any passionate community organizer, National Geographic aficionado, or budding economist will love this gift.

Binta's Group of Senegal, retail fritter business
Available to support through Kiva

El Terrenito de la Cebolla Group, Onion Producer
Available to support through Kiva

Last, but not least, for the DIY crafter, cozy homebody, or champion of small business there is the wonderful world of Etsy. A quick Etsy search for "proceeds to charity" revealed listings whose proceeds are donated. Full disclosure: I haven't vetted any of these vendors individually, and Etsy's policies assert that each seller is responsible for his or her own claims regarding charities. However, what you can be sure of is that your one-of-a-kind purchase helps a hard-working artisan build a successful small-business in a big-business economy, something a caring recipient will love. 

Black Fur Felt Cloche Hat by Millinery Make Believe
Benefits Red Cross - Hurricane Sandy victims

Handmade Soap Gift Set by Roots Soap Co.
Benefits families affected by the economy

With Love Pillow by Olive Handmade
Benefits Kassidy, teen fighting rare brain cancer

Blue Tug Dog Toy made from Recycled Milking Tubes by Moochews
Benefits French Bulldog Rescue Network

Be the Change Notecard Set by Operation Starfish
Benefits Starfish Foster Home

Do you know of any organizations or businesses that allow customers to support great causes through their purchasing power? Have any ideas for the thoughtful gifts that keep on giving?

Photo Credits
All images are credited to artists or websites as outlined in captions, and original sources are linked.

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