Christmas: Skip the War, Change a Life

I know…I know…  America is in turmoil over election results. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and I’m bringing this up. But, the Christmas shopping season is beginning…and I’m tired of the anger that has come with it over the past few years. So before we really get into the swing of the season, I’m offering a solution.

In recent history the season of Peace on Earth has been anything but.

Happy Holidays. Merry Christmas. Santa Claus and Snowmen. Red Starbucks cups. Banned manger scenes. Stores boycotted. People mocking the boycotters. I don’t know about you, but with all the noise around this year’s presidential election, I’m more than ready to celebrate the Prince of Peace.

But what should we do when it feels like the religious holiday we hold so dear is being watered down?

Have you heard that phrase “Be known for what you’re for, not what you’re against?” Me too. Sounds good, right? But how do we walk that out? How do I show what I am for in a way that is constructive and beneficial this Christmas season?

What if instead of worrying about what kind of decorations are going up in the big chain store down the street, we found socially conscientious businesses that stand for something we DO believe in. I’m talking about social entrepreneurship, which is defined as businesses that develop and fund solutions to social issues like human trafficking, poverty, homelessness, unemployment, etc.

So instead of going down the street to the big businesses to buy the scarf, wall art, jewelry, blanket, handbag, or whatever it may be, you took a little time, did some research, and found a company that employs at-risk people at fair wages to make products. The profit from your purchase goes back into empowering vulnerable people, and rescuing them from a dangerous cycle. The gift is more than a product. It is a story: The artisan who made it, and the way you’ve helped change lives for the better.

As a little pre-Christmas treat I did a little research for those of you who would like to join me on this search. You may not find every gift on your list, but if there is something in the links below that you planned on buying somewhere else, why not buy it from a socially conscientious small business?

Some of the organizations I’ve listed are non-profits, others are for profit companies that exist solely to solve social issues. Some are individuals making goods to fund their adoption. Still others are simply businesses that sell products, but the  business owners have a heart for particular causes and commit to giving a portion of their profits to that cause.

Some have a larger spiritual focus, while other’s main push is physical/social circumstances. Read the organizations ABOUT page to find the heart behind why this company/organization exists.

Some organizations break down exactly what they give, how, and have charts on their outcomes. Others simply say that a portion of each purchase goes toward the cause. I tried to list the portion if it was explicitly listed. I am leaving it up to you as the consumer to research before you buy. You decide if the business model is something you are comfortable with.

Read their mission behind what they do. I was so touched reading some of these stories. I pray that you will be too, and that you find a country or a cause that is near to your heart.

THIS IS NOT an exhaustive list. These companies are what I have discovered in my research and from recommendations of friends and groups I am a part of.

This post IS NOT about making an impact on the chain store by NOT shopping there. It IS about shopping with companies that make a lasting and sustainable impact in vulnerable communities. I like the idea that my gift giving can make a difference to both the recipient and a person trying to make a new start in life.

My whole goal is to spark thought, and new ways of thinking about gift giving. I love it when I hear about these organizations, but in the bustle of the giving season, I forget and gravitate to my usual stores. So I figured you might too.

Let’s break the mold on how we give Christmas gifts. That gift you are about to swipe your credit card for…instead could you purchase from a socially conscious enterprise  or purchase it from a friend’s small business? What if you used your talents to make the gift yourself. Don’t let the world’s stance bend you out of shape. In the end, does it matter if Christmas is on the store’s signage, but not in our hearts?

I hope you enjoy exploring these companies. If you have an organization that you feel fits this list, put it in the comments below. I would  love to hear about more! I am specifically looking for companies that have a method for ordering online and shipping their product.

There might be some gems in your town that support a cause you love. Shop there!


EURASIA

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ReMade 

Shop here for one-of-a-kind handmade blankets and bracelet kits made from vintage saris, traditional dresses from India.

Bracelet kits are $12 and blankets are $59

A team of social entrepreneurs have committed to empowering the women of Kolkata by providing the opportunity for dignified employment at fair wages. They offer educational classes, language services, and other training. 100% of the proceeds from sales and services go back into the running of ReMade and for the betterment of the artisans’ lives, families, and communities.

 

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Love Calcutta Arts

Products include cards, journals, stationary, blankets, and scarves

Gift price range $5-$68

Love Calcutta Arts seeks to rescue young women, typical age range from 17-25, out of prostitution in the red light district of India.  These women have either been tricked into slavery, or entered out of desperation to feed their families. Love Calcutta Arts provides economic freedom, a sense of dignity, and self-worth. It is a way out for many girls who would remain trapped in this way of life. To see products and learn about the mission. Shop here

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Grace and Lace

A  for-profit company that sells blankets, scarves, boot socks, lace extenders, and more for women, girls, and babies.

Gift prices range $15-$59

This traditional company has a passion for the orphans of India. This young company was able to build seven new orphanages, taking 160 orphans off the street by giving a portion of their profits to angel house ministry. They also funded a safe house for women to rescue them from human trafficking that houses 40 women.

UPDATE:

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Shop here for jewelry made with pearls and semi-precious stones, and crochet animals.

Please Note: Prices are listed in Thai Baht not U.S. dollars. You can visit http://www.xe.com for the exchange rate. 1,000 baht roughly converts to $28.00

Rahab Ministries exists to build relationships with women in prostitution to share the love of Jesus, to provide them with emotional support and practical help, and to offer them education, vocational training, and alternative employment.

 

GLOBAL/ MULTIPLE NATION

 

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Noonday Collection

Shop here for jewelry and other accessories are made by artisans around the globe to provide dignified jobs for people who need them.

You can shop by product, or by country.

Gift prices range from $11-$128

Noonday collective is a socially responsible business that uses fashion to create meaningful opportunities around the globe. They partner with talented artisan entrepreneurs to make a difference in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities. By developing artisan businesses through fair trade, they empower them to grow sustainably and to create dignified jobs for people who need them. They’re building a flourishing world where children are cherished, women are empowered, people have jobs and we are connected. Learn more.

 

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Krochet Kids (Peru and Uganda) 

Shop here for crocheted headwear, scarves, bags, and apparel for men, women, and children. Prices range from $14-$125

A non-profit organization started by three young men who started out by teaching themselves how to crochet that evolved into teaching women in developing countries how to crochet as a means to teach them a sustainable way of making a living. Currently they have programs in Uganda and Peru. Check out their website to review their projects and their statistics on the real impact they are making in these developing countries. Each piece is signed by the woman that made it.
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 Shop Here for gifts for men, women, children, and home goods.

Gift prices range from $2.50-$50.00

Mercy House exists to engage, empower and disciple women around the globe in Jesus’ name. Engage those with resources to say yes to the plight of women in poverty. Empower women and teenage mothers around the world through partnerships and sustainable fair trade product development. Disciple women to be lifelong followers of Jesus Christ.

They are partnering with 24 countries, working with more than 42 faith based nonprofits who are empowering women.

 

 

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Shop Here for apparel.

Gift prices vary. Current campaign gift prices range from $10-$39

Every four months they choose a new fundraising campaign. 100%  of proceeds go to the campaign. Their current campaigns.

There is a great story behind the start of this business.

 

 

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Shop Here for necklaces custom created for the support of a variety of organizations.

Gift prices range from $18-$40

$5 from every sell goes to the cause it represents. Throughout the year they partner with several organizations, and customize a jewelry design to support each organization.

Current campaigns

UPDATE:

I was contacted by Lovishly after they saw this blog post and they kindly offered a discount code to my readers. Use hopeperch as a coupon code to get 10% of your entire purchase.

 

NORTH AMERICA

 

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Renew

Shop here for handmade candles, warmer wax, and soaps.

Gift prices range from $5-$20

A non-profit discipleship program to help women from all walks of life meet Jesus no matter the depth of darkness they face. The women make handmade candles, warmer wax, and soaps to help fund the program.Each scent is designed by a woman in the program based on their spiritual journey.

 

 

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Loved+Blessed

Give the gift of encouragement. Gift a friend or family member with a subscription to receive a monthly box of encouragement. Options include a single box gift, a three month prepaid subscription, 6 month prepaid subscription, or twelve month prepaid subscription. There are also encouraging stocking stuffers available for purchase.

A part of the proceeds from every box of encouragement goes to The Union Rescue Mission Hope Gardens Family Center helps women transition from homelessness to independence within 12 to 36 months by offering long-term rehabilitation programs, services, and spiritual care.  Women and children have a safe place to live while they receive counseling, training, encouragement, and the real help they need to escape homelessness forever.

 

 

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Shop Here for handbags, wallets, cosmetic bags, jewelry, weekend bags, and portfolios handmade in Cleveland, TN.

Gift prices range from $12-$195

Free 2 Fly was born out of a desire to start a creative business that would exist to do one thing: help women in our community who are unemployed but desire to rise above their current circumstance.   Many women face circumstances that are holding them back from reaching their full potential. Profits from sales are given back to women working in the program.

 

 

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Shop Here for Haitian made jewelry.

Gift prices range $10-$72

BÉLJOY was born out of a vision to give the people of Haiti opportunities to earn money through honest and dignified work. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere with 80% of its citizens living below the poverty threshold. The average Haitian lives on less than $2 a day.

BÉLJOY engages the Haitian people by teaching them the trade of quality jewelry making. They are committed to the local sourcing of components like clay, paper beads, and horn. This makes BÉLJOY jewelry distinctive, beautiful and meaningful to the artisans. By teaching this trade and paying a superior wage, they hope to strengthen people, restore dignity, and give them an opportunity to provide for their families. Every purchase made directly affects lives in Haiti and increases the opportunity to bless others.

 

 

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Bijou: Three Angels Haiti Children’s Relief 

Shop here for paper bead bracelets, necklaces, and ornaments

Gift prices range $7-$25

Three Angels Children’s Relief is a ministry that serves orphans and at-risk families in Haiti. Their mission is to help children in Haiti escape poverty so that they may experience God’s love, become part of a healthy home, and grow into who they are called to be.  Their approach involves serving both orphans and at-risk families with programs aimed at sustainable change.

 

AFRICA

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Amani ya Juu

Amani ya Juu is Swahili for “Peace from Above.” They have gifts for men, women, children, and home goods.

Gift prices range from $3-$370

It is a social economic enterprise committed to the peace and reconciliation for African women. Amani began in 1996 with four women sewing placemats together in Nairobi. Since then, Amani has grown to over 200 women representing diverse communities from all across Africa. In the face of conflict and poverty, women at Amani regain hope and stability and share Christ’s gift of peace in their homes, communities and nations. Amani has established a presence of peace in several African countries as women return to their homelands to begin their own peace building initiatives.

For Chattanooga people, they have a storefront if you would like to avoid ordering online.

 

 

ADOPTION

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A Chattanooga family is making beautiful calligraphy signs and ornaments to fund their adoption. Gift prices range $5-$120

Check out their etsy site and read their adoption story. https://www.etsy.com/shop/FromOrphanToHeir

Their blog: http://thenewestsmith.blogspot.com/

If you know of anyone using a similar method to raise funds for their adoption or someone else’s I would love to add more to this section. I know they are out there!

SOUTH AMERICA

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Chosen Arrow

Necklaces are $15 plus shipping costs.

100% of profit goes to the support of the ministries represented on the website.

Chosen Arrow Designs was started in July 2016 in an effort to raise more awareness and financial support for the work of the Amazon Network. Benefiting gospel ministries in the jungles of Colombia and Brazil. Read more about their work here:


 

I’m not affiliated with any of these organizations. I share because I believe in the idea of creating better lives by helping people leave the cycles that bind them by providing education, dignified employment, and fair wages.

All logos are the creation and property of the organization they represent.

If you love one of these companies, give them a shout out in the comments! Also, if you know of an organization that is socially conscientious share it here!

P.S. If someone says Happy Holidays to you, they aren’t being a jerk. They are being polite and wishing you well. Smile and respond with gratitude or exchange your own greeting of choice. Let’s not be known for using foolish stunts to prove our point… Please? 😉

If you enjoyed this post click for more.
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Coming Soon

Friday: My review of Shadow of the Storm, a biblical fiction novel by Connilyn Cossette

Next week: A post on how we handle Santa Claus and the giving of gifts in my little family.

In early December: A Christmas themed reader appreciation giveaway!!

 


4 thoughts on “Christmas: Skip the War, Change a Life

  1. Amanda – thank you so much for doing this! My daughter (and God) started the first option on your list – REMADE. I have watched its conception – been to the rural village in Kolkalta – “talked” to the ladies- seen the poverty in which they live – dirt floors – no running water – no toilets- communal pond…Now they have a hope – the thing with feathers – to fly above some of their circumstances. I am sharing my daughter’s FB post regarding this hoping that ALL the gems on your list gets to shine! Thank you again from Franklin TN!

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    1. I’m so glad this post was a blessing to you and your family. It blessed me reading these stories, and seeing people’s lives changed, and the heart of the people who started these organizations. It is such an encouragement to see in a world full of desire for personal gain a higher calling, to use one’s business and talents to give people a chance at a better life. It is something my husband and I live by in our own lives, to try run our business and finances in such a way that we are able give more away than we keep for ourselves. Why? Because it is freeing , and it makes our lives about something bigger than ourselves. Once we made this commitment to God it has been so amazing to watch what He has done. So this post came about from a feeling of partnership with people of a like mindset. I was so thankful for Danielle Valimont’s suggestion to look at Remade. Such beautiful people making beautiful products for a beautiful future. I was filled with HOPE. In a world that feels like it’s gone mad, there are beautiful things happening.

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