Two lists. That’s all it took to undo me somewhat these past few weeks.
The first was the one I write up every year as we approach Christmas; the dreaded list of people I need to buy gifts for. Oh, I love Christmas, I do. And I love giving gifts. But the scale of that list has been known to send me into a panic. This year I counted 40 names.
The other list came in the mail with a big, bloody headline that fairly screamed at me. STOP THE GENOCIDE! it said. The ACL’s letter told me that, since 2014, “ISIS has been carrying out a terror campaign against Christians, Yazidis, Shias and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. And there’s overwhelming evidence of crimes against them, including…”
(And here’s that other list…)
- Assassinations of church leaders and mass murders
- Torture, systemic rape and sexual enslavement
- Kidnapping for ransom and theft of lands and wealth
- Destruction of churches, cemeteries and religious artefacts
- Forcible conversion to Islam
I’d just padded down to the letterbox and was tearing open the mail on the deck, the sun making the white glare at me accusingly as I read that list, remembering the other one now fixed to the fridge.
Why is this so?
When I look at the list of people I am expected (and want!) to buy Christmas presents for this year, many are families with two cars in the garage, a dishwasher, a clothes-dryer and room for a pony! More than that, they are safe. We are safe. We were blessed to be born in this place away from war. And yet, somewhere over there, on that other list, are people clutching with desperation at the fraying edges of their lives.
It boils down to the question that is asked with these too-hard-basket situations: What can I do?
Well, dear family and friends who are privileged to be on that first list on my fridge, you are unwittingly a part of my response this year. We have been entrusted with much wealth, and therefore have much responsibility. Your gifts this year have been chosen with a different kind of consciousness. My challenge is to not only gift you something you like, but something that continues to give.
Can I tell you, that’s not particularly easy. I’ve been researching and thought it might be useful to you too! Here are some ideas for gifts that give and give and give.
(PS: If I’m on your list, you have permission to do the same in return!)
This is perhaps the most obvious option for gift recipients who will be happy knowing that money that might have been spent on socks and jocks was instead invested in the livelihood of people in dire need. Try these – each has a ‘gift catalogue’ with everything from chickens and goats to water purifiers, a baby bundle or groceries. You can opt to have a card sent in the mail/downloaded so you can physically give something to your loved-one.
A pretty necklace, bracelet or pair of earrings is a girl’s go-to when shopping for girlfriends. So I was excited to learn about this range of jewellery by Francesca Collections (a Hobart-based business, incidentally). Francesca does a Be Her Freedom range with 100% of profits going to the fight against human trafficking.
Check it out HERE.
I’m a big fan of the Thankyou range of products which include hand and body wash, body scrub, moisturisers, nappies and wipes. Having just read Chapter One by Thankyou co-founder Daniel Flynn, I think everyone should get behind this brand that gives 100% of all profits to safe water, hygiene and sanitation services around the world. These folks are doing some truly awesome things. Oh, and their stuff is really great too – inexpensive and beautifully branded with that kinda designer edge. Thankyou has a Christmas range of gift sets that arrive at your doorstep, gorgeously packaged and ready for you to simply add the gift tag. Check it out HERE.
Giving gifts that ‘give back’ isn’t necessarily restricted to charity catalogues and organisations that give all their profits to need. Just being aware of the origins of the things we buy and the treatment of every person in the manufacturing chain makes a huge difference. This is something I’m a baby at. I’ve got lots to learn. But these places are great starting points:
Another resource I stumbled across while I’m on the ‘sourced ethically’ topic was to do with fashion. I found this great, comprehensive fashion report by Baptist World Aid Australia that rates familiar clothing and accessory brands in relation to their policies, supplier relations and worker empowerment. I’m personally truly grateful that Zara rates so highly (although we’ve yet to entice them across the Strait to Tassie…) and other brands including Industrie, Patagonia, Cotton On and Nudie Jeans do alright too. But the vast majority do quite poorly. Worth knowing.
Check it out HERE.
This one’s a bit random, but good for a laugh! And it’s pretty much guaranteed to be used rather than hidden away in a cupboard – another useless Chrissy present. Who Gives A Crap makes toilet paper (as well as tissues and paper towel), each roll wrapped in cool retro print, with 50% of profits going to help build toilets for people in need. The materials are also environmentally friendly, making them, “good for your bum and great for the world”. Tehe! Cute. Check ’em out HERE.
Wine is a popular option – especially as a corporate gift for the boss or clients. Enter: Goodwill Wine. When you purchase wine through this company, 50% of profits are donated to a charity of your choice, whether from the selection of charities and non-profit organisations listed on their website, or one of your own choosing. The wine is from quality, boutique, independent wineries across Australia and a label is adhered to each bottle so that the recipient will know where some of the purchase profits have been sent.
Check it out HERE.
*My list is a bit of a work in progress! Do let me know if you come by any other great ways of giving gifts that keep on giving. Perhaps I’ll add it to the above. Merry Christmas!