13 Gifts That Give Back

13 Gifts That Give Back

Consider giving gifts that bring a smile to those you love and those in need.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we often take the time to reflect on and give thanks for all of the blessings in our lives. As we move into the holiday shopping season, I want to challenge everyone to keep in mind how blessed you are and how you might be able to show your gratitude. I wanted to share with you a list of great brands you can give gifts from this holiday season who also give back in some way. These items are great, especially for those college students in your life.

1. Love Your Melon hats

As the weather gets colder this holiday season, warm the heads ("melons") and hearts of your loved ones with these cozy and beautiful hats. These knit hats are perfect for walking across a college campus in the winters and their ball caps are perfect for blocking the sun during warmer weather. For every hat bought, Love Your Melon donates 50 percent of the profit to fighting pediatric cancer and gives a hat also to a child battling cancer in America.

2. Alex and Ani 'Charity by Design' bracelets

Alex & Ani’s “Charity by Design” line of jewelry has simple and meaningful bracelets that are perfect for gifts. They are dedicated to a variety of good causes from UNICEF to the ASPCA. As a humanitarian company, they are donating 20 percent to each of these wonderful causes.

Paper Crane charm bangle donates to the National Network to End Domestic Violence ($38).


Not only are TOMS so comfy, but you can feel comfortable knowing that your gift is helping TOMS to give shoes, sight, water, safe birth and bullying prevention services in over 70 countries around the world.

4. S'Well

S’Well water bottles and tumblers look good & do good. Made of stainless steel, these bottles and tumblers are perfect for college students and those always on the go who need to keep their drinks hot or cold. So by reusing these you are not only being eco-friendly by saving the earth from disposable bottles, but also helping S’Well to give back to their partners UNICEF USA, Breast Cancer Research Foundation and RED.

5. LUSH Charity Pot

Indulge yourself and the beautiful people in your life with a luscious beauty product from LUSH. Lush not only is animal cruelty-free, they also are committed to giving back through their Charity Pot! Charity Pot is a beautiful body lotion with 100 percent of the purchase price ($7.95 for 1.7 oz) going to support the charity you will see on the lid of the lotion pot.

6. The Elephant Pants

The Elephant Pants provide comfort for a cause: saving the elephants! From comfy harem pants to leggings, these are great for those who love lounging around all day. Since most college students practically live in cozy sweats and leggings, these will definitely be appreciated as an everyday essential. The Elephant Pants donate 10 percent of their net profits to organizations like Tusk in order to help protect and save the elephants in Africa.

These are the Hattie Harem Pants ($24) featuring purple elephants in the pattern.

7. Sevenly t-shirts

Sevenly is ideal to find a gift for world changers, individuals who want to support and advocate good causes by starting conversations. They donate 7 percent per purchase from their cause-themed collections to non-profit organizations such as Teachers Without Borders, Hope for the Warriors, and Water.org. You can even shop within your specific cause of choice! These make great gifts for those college students who want to show their support for their future fields (especially for future teachers).

The 'Life is Art' t-shirt ($34) supports Americans for the Arts.

8. Yoobi supplies

For all of the students and productive people in your life, load them up with superb supplies from Yoobi. For every Yoobi item you purchase, another item is donated to an American child in need to encourage their education. Since most of their items are less than $10, these make great stocking stuffers that you can even find at Target! (College students will be especially appreciative because school supplies are something we are always in need of.)

This is the Academic Weekly Planner in Aqua Sprinkles ($6.99). which is a fun and great way to prepare for the new year!

9. Pura Vida charity bracelets

Meaning “pure life” in Spanish, Pura Vida bracelets are perfect for the free and pure souls who live life to the fullest and appreciate life’s simple treasures. Although their regular bracelets also support artisans worldwide, their charity bracelet line donates 10 percent of their net profits to many organizations like the Oceanic Preservation Society, Never Ever Give Up! (NEGU), SAVE, and HoneyLove. While these are cheap enough to be stocking stuffers, they are priceless reminders of the causes you care about and great conversation starters.

This is the NEGU: Never Ever Give Up! ($5) bracelet, which donates to NEGU to support kids and their families fighting cancer to never ever give up!

10. Out of Print apparel

For the bookworm in your life, browse Out of Print’s apparel to celebrate their favorite stories while also promoting literacy in under-served communities. You can shop by genre or book titles with a long list of books from A-Z including To Kill a Mockingbird, Pride and Prejudice, The Great Gatsby and Harry Potter.

This is the Great Gatsby unisex sweatshirt ($42).

11. BoxLunch

For the geek in your life, consider getting them apparel and accessories from their favorite movies or TV shows like Star Wars, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Rick and Morty as well as Marvel and DC Comics. With just as wide a variety and as cheap as Hot Topic, BoxLunch is a great alternative with their dedication to providing a meal to a person in need for every $10 you spend.

This is the Star Wars BB-8 Ugly Holiday Sweater ($47.92), which is festive and the ideal sweater for an ugly sweater party!


As Anna Parker listed in 25 Things Every Millennial Woman Wants Underneath Her Xmas Tree, college students love receiving care packages and what better way to do it than with a subscription to a care package service like CauseBox! Delivering quarterly throughout the year, each box is filled w/ at least $150 value of products for $50 a box. Not only is the box filled with brands and products that give back in some way, but each box includes the stories behind those products and why they chose them in a magazine.

13. Donate in the name of someone as a gift.

As you have seen, many of these brands and their products donate to various charities. You can help to support these charities by buying some of these great products or also by simply donating to them directly in the name of someone as their gift. The options are endless with so many charities and organizations to choose from. For some animal conservation organizations and even some zoos you can "adopt" an animal in the name of someone else. Similarly, you can "adopt" a needy family or child so that your donation goes to help support them by buying supplies they need or covering fees they have like rent. Who knows how far your donation can make an impact!

I invite you this holiday season to give not only to those on your Christmas list but also to others in need. Maybe help out a local charity or your church by donating items they can give as gifts through programs like the Angel Tree that matches someone in need with Christmas gifts. As Band Aid 30 sang in “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, “in our world of plenty, we can spread a smile of joy” this holiday season.

Cover Image Credit: https://www.theelephantpants.com/collections/harem-pants/products/hattie-elephant-harem-pants

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13 Style Mistakes Every Girl Made In The 2000s

Hide your selfies.

1. Crimped Hair

2. Straightened Side Bangs With Curly Hair

3. Jeans under skirts

4. A "poof" with two braids

...thanks Lizzie Mcguire

5. The solo "poof" with straight hair

Lauren Conrad made this acceptable, right?

6. All silver or light blue eye shadow

7. Too Much Eyeliner

8. "Emo" hair

9. Ponchos

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11. Those "shrug" Half Sweaters that tied in the middle *cringe*

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Cover Image Credit: College Fashion

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Sociolinguistics Series: Part 41

Language is a powerful tool.


After our lunch at the market, the sun began to go down. When the sun sets on Jerusalem on Friday nights, the city essentially goes to sleep. The people don't, but the city as an institution rests; it's the observance of Shabbat, or the day of rest. For Christians, the day of rest is Sunday. For Muslims, it's Friday.

A cool linguistic tangent about Arabic--the days of the week in Arabic recognize the label of "Shabbat" for Saturday. In Arabic, Saturday is called "يوم السبت" or "yom al-sabt" in transliteration. "Yom" means "day," and "al-sabt" is the label for Saturday. "Sabt" sounds like "Shabbat," and it is the name for Saturday as a reference to the Jewish community that observes Shabbat on Saturdays.

The rest of the days of the week in Arabic are also very interesting. The first day of the week is Sunday, and its name is "yom al-'aHad," which refers to the word for "one": "waaHid." Monday's name, "yom al-ithnayn," is in reference to the number two: "ithnayn." This pattern continues with the words for Tuesday (three), Wednesday (four), and Thursday (five). However, Friday is different. The word for Friday is "yom al-jumea," or "يوم الجمعة."

As mentioned previously, Friday is the day of rest and gathering for Muslims. At a mosque that we went to in Haifa, we learned that when Muslims pray, they always gather as a group to pray; the movements of prayer are in-sync with each other and beautiful, as if it seemed to be the motions of the waves on the ocean.

In Arabic, nouns are made from roots that consist of three letters. Every noun that shares the same three roots have meanings that trace back to a central theme; for example, the nouns that derive from ك-ت-ب, or k-t-b, have meanings that go along the lines of "writing." "Kitaab" means "book," while "muktaba" means library; "muktab" means office, which is a place where people write, and "kaatib" means writer.

The word for Friday, "يوم الجمعة," has the three root letters "ج-م-ع" or "jiim-miim-ayn." Other words that are derived from this root pattern are "mosque" ("جامع" or "jaami3a"), "university" ("جامعة" or "jaamie3at"), "all" ("جميع" or "jamee3a") and "to collect" ("جمع" or "jam3a"), to name a few. All of these have to do with gathering--students gather at a university, observers gather at a mosque, and a collection of things are gathered.

The reason the word for Friday also uses this root is because Friday is one of the most important days for Muslims to gather and pray together (of course, all days are important for prayer for those who follow religion). Arabs congregate for family visits on Friday as well, and thus, Friday is named accordingly.

I hope you found that tangent as fascinating as I did! We are back to Shabbat in Jerusalem, where observant Jews are not allowed to do work. What does "not doing work" mean? A circuit cannot be completed. For example, elevator buttons cannot be pressed, because when the button is pressed, an electrical circuit is completed.

At our hotel, there was an elevator that became a "Shabbat elevator" on Friday night. This meant that no buttons were able to be pressed; instead, the elevator automatically stopped at every floor. It was a slow process to ride that elevator, but it did follow the rules of Shabbat.

On Friday morning at the hotel breakfast, there was a coffee machine where guests could choose for a latte, espresso, cappuccino, or Americano to be made. On Saturday morning, the coffee machine was turned off and covered by a blanket. For those coffee addicts, though, there was a pot of Americano.

At first, I was very confused by how this coffee was made without doing "work." I learned that the hot water used to make the coffee was actually boiled the day before, on Friday before the sun had set. The boiled water would be kept in a thermos-like container (much like the kind my family uses in China to make tea at a minute's notice) overnight, and it would be used to make coffee with pre-ground beans for Saturday morning hotel guests.

One person in our group of students argued that even moving a chair across the carpet is completing a circuit, if we're speaking in terms of physics--we laughed this off as a joke and informally established that they probably meant ~electrical~ circuits cannot be completed on Shabbat. Most observant Jews will not use their phone or drive on Shabbat, and all the public transportation in Jerusalem is not in use either.

Since Tel Aviv is a more secular (and less religiously observant) city than Jerusalem, Shabbat there is very different than Shabbat in Jerusalem. But we'll get there later.

In Jerusalem, restaurants and stores close at sundown on Friday and don't reopen until after sundown on Saturday. When we were at the market for lunch on Friday, we noticed that Jews were frantically gathering groceries--stocking up for the next day, but more importantly, stocking up for Shabbat dinner.

By 2 or 3pm, the energy surround the markets and stores had died down; since the sun sets between 4 and 5pm, people were already getting ready for their 25-26 hours of rest.

Every Friday night in Jerusalem, families gather for Shabbat dinner, which is an important occasion that happens every week. There is something beautiful and ritualistic about the way Shabbat dinner is carried out.

We were fortunate enough to be invited to a Shabbat dinner at the house of our guide's friend; we arrived at the Amit family house by walking that night, as our bus driver had gone home to observe Shabbat--and we couldn't use the bus on Shabbat!

We started dinner by reciting prayer--the blessing over wine, which is called Kiddush. It was presented, almost as if singing a hymn, in Hebrew. After it was finished, we washed our hands in the traditional manner and then broke bread with each other at the table.

We were then served some delicious, homemade Israeli food, including couscous, hummus, and chicken. No one used their phones a single time--both out of respect for not using technology and for being fully present at dinner instead of distracted by social media.

At dinner, we went around and introduced ourselves to the host family--and vice versa. The family had many sons, but only one daughter. The mom of the family was originally South America, but she and her husband--the dad of the Amit family--made Aliyah to Israel to raise their children. Their daughter, Leya, was sitting at dinner with us; she had previously studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and gotten her first degree there.

Some of her brothers were in the IDF at the time, and the others had already served their time (all Israeli citizens, no matter what gender, are required to serve in the IDF--girls for at least two years, boys for at least three--upon turning 18 and graduating high school, though there are other options (like community service) to accommodate for people with disabilities/other conditions, or who choose to not join the army in some day). Leya had chosen community service. She plans on going to medical school in the future, and she was currently studying for the MCAT.

Once we learned about our host family, it was our turn to talk. At this point, our group had not really gotten to know each other very well yet, so this introduction helped us just as much as it helped the host family. Keep in mind that we've only been there for a little over 24 hours, though it's already felt like forever.

We were asked "who are you?" by our host family, and each student spoke individually about themselves for a few minutes. It really allowed our group to break the ice with each other, as I learned something new about every person.

Even for a place as diverse as Berkeley, our group was special--it was a slice of the pie that was more diverse than I had ever seen before. We came from all different walks of life. One Caucasian girl had been born in Indonesia and raised their for the first part of her life, which is something I never could have known just by looking at her.

One guy was half Indian and half Jewish-German and had spent years of his life living in India. Another girl, who was Indian as well, had actually been brought to India to live and study there by her parents--as a surprise! She didn't know she was there to stay until she had gotten there already, which was hard at first but ultimately shaped the way she is today.

That was just a few examples of the amazing stories I heard that night, and thanks to this introduction around the dinner table, I began to really start knowing the genuine, curious, and strong people who were with me--for which I am incredibly grateful.

The next morning, while the Jewish sector of Jerusalem was at rest, we explored the Christian and Muslim Quarters of the Old City. Stay tuned, as we will cover that in the next section!

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