The Gifts that Give 5

With or without wrapping paper, these gifts delight

Christmas. Hannukah. Kwanzaa. Solstice. No matter what your religion, December is a time of celebration, often with gifts. But how can we give while also giving back? Sure, there are lots of organizations that need your financial support and are worthy of it, but if you want to know that your gift is benefitting your town specifically, then you need to look a little bit harder. Here, we’ve found some great organizations that show you exactly what your money is going to support, and some even have something that you can wrap and put underneath the tree. Find something for one of the special people on your list here! 

For the fashionista: 

The Global Orphan Project has been changing lives around the world for more than a decade now, but their most recent offshoot keeps things closer to home. The Go Exchange (GOEX) supports communities every step of the way, starting right here at home. While on the surface, GOEX makes t-shirts, its focus is really on providing a path to independence for people at every stage of the garment’s creation. 

The shirts are made from American cotton, grown in South Carolina, and milled to be super soft and comfortable. That cotton is then made into fabric and cut and sewn at an apparel manufacturing facility in Haiti. Another sweatshop t-shirt? Nope. These factories pay a living wage and offer humane working conditions so that workers can support their families. After shirts are sewn, they come back to Kansas City where fairly paid workers do custom screen printing or create designs like their popular Kansas City skyline, available for $25. All profits benefit the GO Project’s work around the world, so every step of the process is beneficial to those that need help. Needless to say, this will be on my Christmas wish list! Find them at GOEx.org. For something more decorative, check out their artisan line which includes jewelry, ornaments, pottery, and more, all direct from the artists that produce them. There’s something for everyone at Artisan.goex.org

For the Saturday Sleep-In Queen

What’s better than a lazy Saturday morning in bed? Almost nothing. So imagine if you didn’t have that luxury. Imagine that you don’t have a bed at all. That’s the reality for many people in Kansas City. Sleepyhead Beds was founded by Monica Starr, a CASA (court appointed special advocate) who saw the needs of the kids coming through the court systems. Since 2010, the organization has delivered more than 12,000 beds to families that need them. Beds are donated by community members and then sanitized and distributed. Although Sleepyhead Beds distributes every three weeks, there are still more than 1,100 families on their wait list, most with two to three children. 

Sleepyhead Beds is always in need of donations of mattresses in twin, full, and queen sizes, as well as crib mattresses and pack and plays. New and gently used bedding is also needed. Along with each mattress, a new pillow is included. Pillows cannot be recycled by law, so new pillow donations are always welcome. If you have time but not materials, volunteers are always needed for distribution days. And if you have money but not time, $60 will cover the cost of collecting, sanitizing, and redistributing a bed with bedding and a new pillow. That’s a low price to give the gift of a night of safe sleep. If you are interested, visit SleepyHeadBeds.org.

For the person that 
loves their Grandma

Seniors are one of the most unappreciated and unseen populations during the holidays. If you have fond memories of a grandparent that has passed or lives far away, consider donating to the Platte Senior Services. The Center provides a center of activity for those that may find themselves alone on the holidays–they offer Bingo monthly with prizes that include household items that seniors on a fixed income might need, as well as holiday dinners. The three senior center locations, in Weston, Dearborn and Kansas City, expect to have at least 60 guests for Christmas dinner. Platte Senior Services representative Anne Rogers says that donations of turkeys, hams, and other Christmas dinner fixings are welcome, as are items for gift bags such as gloves, calendars, ornaments, etc. To find more ways to help, visit PlatteSeniors.org

For the Gym Rat 

Do you love the high you get right after a tough workout? Love the camaraderie of a pickup basketball game? Then gift that to someone at the Y. Your dollars can make it possible for a member to participate in one of the great programs that the Y offers. Here are just a few examples: 

  • • $25 helps a teenager become prepared for college through the Y’s Young Achievers program
  • • $50 gives a youth with special needs the opportunity to play sports in a safe and welcoming environment at the Y
  • • $100 will give a child YMCA swim lessons to help prevent drowning

Want to help? Contact Michelle Ford at 816.360.3304.

For the Foodie 

If your idea of fun is a day of cooking or a night out at one of the city’s hottest eateries, Feed Northland Kids wants to talk to you. We all love a good meal and the knowledge that many children in the Northland aren’t sure they will have enough to eat over the weekend is unsettling. There is something that you can do about it though. Feed Northland Kids partners with Harvesters Community Food Network to provide funds and manpower to fill, pack, and provide Backsnacks to children in the Northland schools. Each Backsnack is a backpack filled with four pounds of shelf-stable, kid-friendly food that is easily prepared by a child. Sometimes those backpacks are the only food that they may have all weekend. To supply one student with Backsnacks throughout the school year costs $250, less than a last-generation gaming system. If you are interested in getting hands-on, contact Feed Northland Kids and help pack Backsnacks with one of their community nights. For more information, visit FeedNorthlandKids.org. 

It is a season of giving, and many of us are richly blessed. Happy gifting!