Gifts that give back: Buy one, give one programs

This holiday season, get gifts for everyone on your list plus some with gift matching programs. Retailers like Toms and Stone + Cloth are offering buy one, give one programs so you can buy presents for friends while giving to the less fortunate at no extra cost. 

Melanie Stetson Freeman / The Christian Science Monitor/File
Mimi Boudreau looks through a pile of stuffed animals for a Christmas present for a friend. Buy gifts that give back this holiday season by shopping at retailers that offer gift matching programs.

Gift-giving is in full swing. And for most of us it means following the time-honored tradition of wrapping and unwrapping tokens of appreciation. But this year, such gift-giving is taking on additional meaning. Retailers like Warby Parker, Toms, and Threads are offering customers the opportunity to not only shop for themselves or their loved ones this year, but also for the less fortunate — at no extra cost. These buy one, give one programs will not only satisfy your desire to do good this holiday season, but they're also great alternatives to giving a family a goat.

Wonderbag: Portable Slow Cooker

For every Wonderbag Portable Slow Cooker with Knorr Recipe Cookbook ($50) bought, the company will donate one to a family in need in Africa. The Wonderbag is a unique kitchen appliance that can cook food without direct heat or electricity via heat retention technologies. All it takes is a quick s simmer and the slow cooker does the rest, all while unplugged and without using any additional heating source. The slow cooker is a modern day convenience, sure, but families in developing countries who use Wonderbags also save up to 30% of their income otherwise spent on fuel for wood stoves. 

Stone + Cloth

Take one look at the totes and backpacks made by Stone + Cloth (from $25), and you can see that they're crafted in a style that is as equally at home in the big city as in more rustic environs. If buying one of these bags makes you feel smart, imagine how it will help a kid in Tanzania: Stone + Cloth uses proceeds from each sale to help Tanzanian kids get an education through the Knock Foundation, a non-profit near the hills of Mount Kilimanjaro. Stone + Cloth's motto is "Carry an education," and your purchase will definitely help carry children to a better future.

Baby Teresa

What's more impossibly cute than a baby in baby clothing? Two babies in baby clothing, of course! Baby Teresa sells 100% organic cotton baby clothing and accessories (from $29.95). But the company also gives tons of its stuff away, too. For each all-in-one baby outfit purchased, Baby Teresa donates another set to a little one in need somewhere in the world; you can even specify where your clothing donation goes.

Blanket America

Winter is coming, and it's time to pay mind to keeping warm. Blanket America is a company that does just that, selling a wide variety of sheets, blankets, comforters, and more. This holiday, for each Blanket America product bought, one will go to an American in need. In addition to domestic giving, Blanket America has offered continuous disaster relief to people in Haiti via blanket donations its Choose Haiti line of products.

Everything Happy Products

Sometimes the act of charitable giving is so simple, even a child can master it. When David Holdridge was just 7 years old, he created the first Happy Blankie, a mash up of a blanket and a stuffed animal. Just two short years later, David's creation left the drawing board and became a reality that's changing lives. Everything Happy Products have found their way to orphanages, hospitals, and poverty-stricken communities through David's "One to Love, One to Give" mission. Together with his family, he distributes Everything Happy products to children all over the world.

1 Million Lights: Solar Rechargeable Spotlight

The 1 Million Lights charitable organization is on a mission to replace dangerous, polluting kerosene lamps with safe, rechargeable solar lights around the world. And while you can donate a light, you can also participate in the buy one, give one program with the purchase of an Energizer Solar Rechargeable Spotlight ($60) that uses white LEDs that provide 24 lumens for 3.5 hours based on five hours of charging in the sun. See how easy it is to shine a beacon of hope this time of year?

Roma Boots

Giving poverty the boot has never been easier; for every pair of Roma Boots (from $39) sold, a new pair is donated to a child in need. The company was founded in 2010 by Romanian-born Samuel Bistrian in an effort to help poor children in his home country. And in this case helping out is fun, because these boots have bright, sassy, monochromatic style down to an art. So the next time you splash your way through a big old puddle in your Romas, smile extra wide. Thanks to you, there's a kid somewhere who gets to do it, too.

We hope that as you continue to shop for gifts for friends and family this holiday, you consider extending a hand to those less fortunate. You needn't contribute money outright, just look to companies that will match your gift and give one to another person in need. Gifts that give back come with double the thanks at no extra cost.

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