Category Archives: Gifts

LOVEly Gifts for Valentine’s Day

LOVEly Gifts for Valentine’s Day

 

 

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Wine, Chocolate, Jewelry and heart! We’ve got you covered with this list of a few of our favorite Valentine’s Day gifts this year.

My absolute favorite Valentine’s Day gift pick is the Alex & Ani special edition Product (RED) bracelet where 20% of the proceeds go to the Global Fund to help fight AIDS. I also happen to also be obsessed with the arrow rings and bracelets the just came out with!!

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Olive & Cocoa is the place to find updated versions of Valentine’s Day flowers, chocolate and gifts.

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I love this “bundle of love” that FEED came up with for Valentine’s Day this year where each purchase provides 35 meals for school children around the world!

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Wine always makes a wonderful gift, especially the wines from One Hope because they each give back to a different cause. These wines are perfect for Valentine’s Day the purchase of the glittery pink bottle filled with Chardonnay goes to fight Breast Cancer and the glittery red bottle of Pinot Noir that  helps fight Heart Disease. There are also some fun for the holiday gift packages like the All You Need is Love Gift Box, the Baker Gift Crate or the Birthday Babe Gift Box.

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Heart of Haiti  Fair Trade products found in Macy’s Department stores are produced in collaboration with Full Circle Exchange and help Haitian Artisans to support their families with their beautiful hand-made crafts.

PicMonkey Collage6In my mind life is all about love.  Valentine’s Day is a perfect day to spread the LOVE, whether it be romantic, love between friends or the love of family. It is a great opportunity to let them know you care. Making someone feel special doesn’t have to be with a gift. The gifts above are fun suggestions, and some of them even give twice by contributing to a good cause, but sometimes a simple note or gesture can make someone feel just as special. I’m wishing you all days full of love, and a Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

 

Social Good Gifts 2015

Social Good Gifts 2015

PicMonkey Collage9Each year during this frenzied shopping season I aim to find a few social good gift options to share that not only please the recipient, but that are gifts that give back in some way. I know I’m not the only one who appreciates the meaning behind a gift as much as the gift itself. Here are some ideas, and links to others that all have great stories behind them. Let’s spread goodness, hope and cheer this holiday season!

Social Good Gifts
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My friend Nicole keeps an incredible list of gifts that give back on her blog ThirdEyeMom.com and this year she added and introduced me to Bloom & Give. I immediately bought one of their beautiful block printed tote bags that helps to send a girl to school in India. Their designs and quality are as beautiful as the mission.

 

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I love the whole concept of the 100 Good Deeds bracelets and the idea of gifting them, especially to my children, as an inspiration to do more for others. It’s a great story and it goes like this:

Mary Fisher—artist, author, advocate—spent a decade partnering with vulnerable
women in Africa, designing jewelry made by the women to earn a dignified livelihood.

She had just released her memoir, Messenger, a story of discovering joy in service, when she met Thomas Morgan, filmmaker and father, who created the 100 Good Deeds game with his family. Read More – from 100GoodDeeds.org

 

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Last year I had Heart of Haiti gifts on my list of Gifts That Give Back 2014 and through learning about that program, run by Macy’s, I also learned about the Path to Peace Rwanda Baskets program. I had the honor of attending the 10 year celebration for the Path to Peace Rwanda baskets this fall at Macy’s Herald Square in New York City. It is the longest running “trade not aid” program of its kind, and that night we heard first hand about the transformations that have taken place over the past decade within the communities of the basket weavers working on this project. Both programs are helping to revive communities that had suffered the trauma of natural disaster and conflict.

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The most adorable knitwear for babies by Misha and Puff also happens to help women to support their families in Peru. The knitting center in Peru provides meals and day care for the knitters, and the pieces are all made from hand dyed natural fibers of soft baby alpaca. Adorbs!

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Life is full of joy and sadness, and we can all relate to its highs and lows. I hope that lokai will remind you to stay balanced and centered along your journey.
-Steven Izen, Founder of lokai

My daughter and all of her friends are loving the Lokai bracelets, and I’ve noticed them on the wrists of some celebrities as well. Said to contain mud from the Dead Sea in the black bead, and water from Mt. Everest in the white, the symbolism is to remind us to stay balanced. For the month of December when you purchase the red  Lokai Bracelet $1.00 will be donated to benefit Save The Children.

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Mindful Giving in a book. Simple Giving is a beautiful book is full of inspiring stories of ways to give back every day. It’s lovely to think that by giving this book you are not only helping one person through your purchase, but providing tools to continue the cycle of giving back.

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Photo Credit: Heidi Reed

Still looking? Did you know that everything you purchase online by shopping through Amazon Smile is an opportunity to give? Just pull up the AmazonSmile page and choose the charity where you would like your donations to go. Continue to log in with your own account information and a portion of the purchase price of each eligible item will go to the organization of your choice.  Through my Amazon Smile account I choose to support Edesia, a non-profit based right here in Rhode Island that produces nutrient rich ready to use therapeutic foods to treat and prevent malnutrition for the most vulnerable children in the world.

You can also check out the fabulous items that give back featured in past lists :

10 Mindful Gifts To Give, Mindful Gift Guide for the Foodie, or Mindful Giving Guide 

Wishing Peace and love to all this holiday season!

Rwandan Women Weaving Their Own #Path2Peace

Rwandan Women Weaving Their Own #Path2Peace
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Willa Shalit, co-founder of Rwanda Path to Peace, Janet Nkubana, co-founder of Gahaya Links, and Terry J. Lundgren, Macy’s chairman and CEO at the celebration

Each year as the holiday/gift giving season approaches I start to think about how I will be using my purchasing power. As consumers we drive the economy, we choose where our money goes, and according to an article in Forbes “Women drive 70-80% of all consumer purchasing, through a combination of their buying power and influence.”

Imagine if women used that economic power to help lift other women up?

Through my travels and writing on social good topics I’ve gained a heightened awareness of how my money is spent, and what it goes to support. Visits to the factories or studios where beautiful hand crafted goods are made has given a face to the artisans behind my purchases and insight into where some of the products that I buy come from. Having observed women using their talents and working hard to give themselves and their children a brighter future I know first hand that choosing one of their items really can make a positive impact in the lives of others.  I admire companies that set out with the mission of benefitting the communities from which they source their goods, companies that choose to train and support craftspeople, so that they in turn can support their families in a dignified way.  Each year as I put together my “gifts that give back” lists for the holidays I think of the women I watched at work in Ethiopia, Indonesia or South Africa, making their beautiful hand-crafted goods as a means of survival. I love to share their stories, along with their crafts, with friends and family.

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The Macy’s Rwanda Path To Peace program is the longest running “trade-not-aid’ partnership of this type, and I was thrilled to be there for the 10 year celebration. It was exciting to hear Willa Shalit tell the story of the origins of the program, and have Terry J. Lundgren, Macy’s chairman and CEO, tell the audience how impactful his visits to Rwanda have been to him.  But it was Janet Nkubana’s statement that

“Husbands don’t beat their wives anymore”

once they are supporting the family with the income from the baskets that really brought home the impact of what economic empowerment means for these women.

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The event, held at the Macy’s Herald Square location in New York City, was a fun celebration filled with food, wine, music and colorful, beautiful hand-woven Rwanda baskets. The speeches reminded us all why we were really there.

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My emotional connection to the celebration was twofold as it combined a place in the world that I love with a mission that I love, stretching back to my visit to central Africa in 1991, just a couple of years before the civil war broke out.  The country had subsequently suffered one of the worst genocides in recent history, leaving the country in despair. The success of the Macy’s Path to Peace program can be measured in the transformation and rehabilitation of the communities in which the weavers live, and it is inspiring to see that determination towards strength and rebuilding.

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Keep an eye out for my upcoming Gifts That Give Back list, and know that the Rwanda baskets that you see on it hold a special place in my heart. If all the women who have buying power used that influence to help economically empower other women around the world, and lift each other up, what beautiful thing that would be.

 

I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere has provided me with compensation of beautiful Rwanda baskets as gifts for this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

 

 

Simple Giving Is The Best Gift Book This Season

Simple Giving Is The Best Gift Book This Season

FullSizeRender-6I believe that is is human nature to want to help others when we can. Two of the biggest hurdles in giving to others are knowing who or what needs help, and then what we, within each of our personal constraints as individuals can do. We also each have our own personal causes and issues we care about. That is one of the reasons that I love sharing stories on my blog of people who make a difference in some way large or small, and hopefully inspire others to do the same. There are so many ways to give, and the book Simple Giving is a perfect guide to how we each can contribute in a positive way to this world.

The book was born from Jennifer’s blog www.anotherjennifer.com and her Philanthropy Friday series. She began to see certain patterns in the types of philanthropy that she featured, and for the book  she breaks them down into six different giving models.

  1. Everyday acts of kindness that can be done everyday for little or no money. An example of this could be as simple as paying someone a compliment.
  2. A new approach to philanthropy which is setting a mindset of giving, even if that amount is small, as a way to make the world a better place.
  3. Shopping with a conscience which has become almost mainstream, consumers want to buy products that give back, are made in an environmentally friendly way, help others to earn a sustainable income, or all three.
  4.  Finding your passion and doing something about it. Start your own non-profit, advocate, be the change you want to see!
  5. Giving as business model, or social enterprise.
  6. Giving it forward means modeling good giving behavior and showing others the way forward.

In Simple Giving Jennifer details case studies for each giving model,  and then lays out a “how to” at the end of each chapter.

I found this book incredibly inspiring, and came away feeling like Simple Giving had given me tools to channel my own philanthropy in new ways. I also now have the desire to give this book to everyone I know as holiday gifts! I think a book like this makes a wonderful present, and just think that when the recipient is in turn inspired by the book it turns into a gift that keeps giving forward. It has been scientifically proven that when we give or help others we feel happier, and  Simple Giving offers each of us a place to start or place to grow our philanthropy in practical ways.

We are in luck that Simple Giving is out in time for holiday giving, and giving back! Get your copy here.

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Author Jennifer Iacovelli

Jennifer Iacovelli is a writer, speaker and consultant. As Chief engagement officer of the Another Jennifer Writing Lab, Jennifer helps entrepreneurs , bloggers, and nonprofits tell their story. She is also the author of  the Another Jennifer blog, and creator of the Simple Giving Lab. She writes for Mom Bloggers For Social Good as part of the Global Team of 200 and is a regular contributor to World Moms Blog and HuffPost Divorce. Jennifer is also contributing author of the book The Mother Of All Meltdowns. Her work has been featured on GOOD, BlogHer, USAID Impact, Feed The Future and the PSI Impact Blog. She is based in Brunswick, Maine.

 

 

Celebrating 10 Years of the Rwanda Path to Peace Program

Celebrating 10 Years of the Rwanda Path to Peace Program

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 4.20.53 PMThe style of our home décor leans toward Nomadic with pieces we have collected  from around the world on our travels that represent a meaningful trip or story. The beautiful hand-woven Rwandan baskets are no different, in them I see the history of an area of the world that I’ve been to and loved, woven with the hope and Path to Peace that each basket represents for the women of Rwanda.

In 1991 I spent six months living out of a backpack as I traveled overland through 16 African countries from Morocco down to Botswana. We camped in tents along the way, shopped for our food at village markets, and made our fire to cook over each night. As you can imagine it was a transformative experience. When people find out that my travels have taken me to over 60 countries around the globe they often ask which one was my favorite. An impossible question in this diverse and magnificent world of ours, rich with its variety of cultures and topography. When I am pressed to choose just one area, Central Africa is the region that pops into my mind each time. We went Gorilla Trekking on the border of Uganda and Rwanda, a phenomenal experience in itself, and it was just one of the most beautiful areas I have ever seen. It was not just the picturesque stepped farms carved into verdant mountains, and the surrounding lush landscape. It was the people, the villages, their arts, and culture that captured some part of me.

I was heart-broken and horrified just a few years later when I heard about the tribal massacres that swept Rwanda in a brutal killing spree that took the lives of almost a million people over the course of just three months. It seemed impossible that an area that had been so warm and inviting, had felt so safe, could erupt in such a violent way. I mourned for Rwanda and volunteered to go back to help, but they really only needed medical volunteers.  This left me feeling useless and frustrated at my lack of valuable skills that could help in any recovery.  The tribal hatred between the Hutus and Tutsis had turned into an ethnic slaughter where neighbor killed neighbor in one of the worst genocides in human history.

The violence left many Rwandan women as the sole providers for their families. Husbands, fathers and sons had been killed or jailed for committing unspeakable atrocities. In the aftermath of such horror I am always amazed by the resilience of the human spirit, that of women in particular. Despite fresh wounds, both mental and physical, the women of Rwanda began to come together through the tradition of weaving as a way to rebuild and reconcile.

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“After the genocide, which tore the ethnic communities of Rwanda apart, the country was looking for a positive symbol that all sides could endorse. Beautiful baskets had been part of Rwanda’s culture for centuries. Their craft and artistry were celebrated by all sides and across the ethnic divide. When the Rwanda Path to Peace program began, the basket became the symbol that all Rwandans could embrace. And as women from formerly warring tribes came together to weave, the Path to Peace program became a vital tool to foster reconciliation.”

In 2005 Macy’s launched the Path to Peace Program. Willa Shalit, an American Artist, Activist and Social Entrepreneur, had introduced Macy’s executives to the beautiful hand-woven Rwandan baskets. Macy’s Partnered with the women of Rwanda in one of the very first “trade not aid” programs where all parties in the business model would benefit from its success.

This week Macy’s will celebrate 10 years of the Rwanda Path to Peace program. It is the longest running program of this kind, and over the years has transformed thousands of women’s lives, and in turn, those of their families and communities. I have come to realize that there are ways to help despite my lack of medical knowledge, and one of those is through my purchasing power. By choosing to spend my consumer dollars on products that I know come from socially responsible sources and are beneficial to others and our world. The hand-woven Rwandan baskets from the Macy’s Path to Peace program represent that idea that sometimes simple actions can collectively make a big impact in the lives of others.

Join me at the 10 year celebration tomorrow in New York!

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.04.42 AMI am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere has provided me with compensation for this post. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.