Gifts That Give Back

 

No one will deny that ’tis better to give than receive. And the joy of giving is doubly rewarding when there’s something extra special about the gift ... whether it’s personalized, handmade or it benefits charity.

Many gifts on the market this holiday season offer the opportunity to give twice by supporting a cause, and these colorful, warm and fuzzy stuffed animals are perfect gift solutions for the hard-to-buy-for friends or relatives and those who have everything. Countless pink items benefiting breast cancer awareness efforts are great gift options for moms, grandmothers, aunts and other special ladies. Guys and teens will appreciate the celebrity cache associated with the high tech and trendy red products tied to the new African AIDS relief fund. For kids, cause-related plush toys provide an excellent opportunity to learn about the joys of giving back to the community while making personalized gifts for their friends, siblings or cousins.

Build-A-Bear Workshop offers selected stuffed animals that children can make themselves to benefit children’s health andwellness, literacy and animal welfare charities. For each of these cause-related stuffed animals purchased (priced from $16 to $25), $1 goes toward the respective cause. It’s a great way to help others and it’s fun. After selecting and stuffing an animal, shoppers can personalize it with clothing and accessories.

“At Build-A-Bear Workshop, families can make personalized gifts for everyone on their holiday list and also have the satisfaction of knowing that a portion of the proceeds is going to help others,” said Maxine Clark, company founder and chief executive bear.

Champ — A Champion Fur Kids is a bear with patches representing various children’s health and wellness issues such as juvenile diabetes, cancer, autism and cerebral palsy, as well as hearing, vision and speech limitations. Champ was inspired by Nikki Giampolo , a teddy bear lover, who at 15 struggled with cancer. Champ wears a purple heart patch in honor of Nikki and represents the champion and the fighter in every child.

Read Teddy aids not-for-profit organizations like First Book by providing children from low-income families with new books. Bearemy’s Kennel Pals, featuring Maltipoo a new Maltese/Poodle mix, is a collection of canine stuffed animals that supports animal shelters, stray rescue and rehabilitation efforts and other domestic pet programs. The World Wildlife Fund Collectibear Friends, such as Snow Leopard, benefit conservation efforts worldwide including saving endangered species and habitats and addressing global threats such as deforestation, over-fishing and climate change.

Purple satin hearts also can be purchased at stores and online for only $1 with the proceeds directed to programs for children, families and animals via the company’s Build-A-Bear Workshop Foundation. Bear Buck $ gift cards also make great stocking stuffers, allowing recipients to select, make and personalize their own charitable bear. Visit www.buildabear.com for more information or to find a store near you. Charities that support health or wellness causes may apply for a grant from the Build-A-Bear Workshop Bear Hugs Foundation at the company’s Web site or by e-mailing giving@buildabear.com.

Carol Weisman , author of “Raising Charitable Children,” suggests the holidays are a great time to start a family tradition of charitable giving. She adds, “When you make this type of purchase, it teaches children that they can buy a gift and help a cause they believe in. It also helps to educate children about the importance of becoming an informed consumer. They learn to decide what companies they want to support.”

Making charitable giving a family holiday tradition is a great way to introduce children to the rewards of charity and volunteering and demonstrate the spirit of the season.

Start a Family Tradition of Giving

Carol Weisman , author of “Raising Charitable Children” offers suggestions on how to make charitable giving a family holiday tradition:

—Set aside one night during the holidays to volunteer.

—Hold a “Family Philanthropy Meeting.” Determine how much money and/or time your family wants to donate. Build a list of the charities your family has supported throughout the year. Talk about the different ways to give, and make decisions based on the answers to three questions: What made you happy in the last year? What made you sad? How would you like to change the world in the next year?

—Plan a special fund-raising project for the coming year. Consider celebrating family occasions like birthdays and anniversaries by giving back to others.

—Have children donate gently used toys, books and clothing to those who are less fortunate.

—Consider re-gifting unused holiday gifts by distributing them at a retirement home on Valentine’s Day.

—Participate in school-based programs that teach kids to raise money for charities.

—Sponsor a needy family and take the kids to shop for food and other necessities.

—When making your own wish list and purchasing gifts, consider those with charitable ties, like special stuffed animal collections from Build-A-Bear Workshop that assist children’s health and wellness, literacy and animal welfare charities.

Weisman notes that not only will starting holiday giving traditions introduce the concepts of charity and volunteering to children, but it can also be a great source of family fun and strengthen family bonds.

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Gifts That Give Twice — Look for holiday gifts that benefit charity, like these select Build-A-Bear Workshop furry friends that help support children’s health and wellness, literacy and animal welfare charities. Pictured from left to right are Maltipoo, Champ — A Champion Fur Kids, Snow Leopard, Read Teddy and Huskie.