21 great holiday gifts that give back to worthy causes

Nov 18 2021, 3:27 pm

Giving back is top of mind during the holiday season, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

From children’s charities to helping single moms in need and beyond, we’ve rounded up a list of the best gifts you can feel more than good about giving.

Birks’ Bee Chic For A Cause Charity Bracelet

This sweet black cord bracelet is instantly recognizable with the beehive-shaped emblem, which has become a signature of the Canadian jeweller. Easily wearable on its own, this style also layers well with other arm candy.

Birks Bee Chic for a Cause bracelet with an 18K yellow gold charm.

Available with a silver charm ($100) or 18K yellow gold ($450), the piece is easily adjustable, thanks to the design.

Birks is donating 100% of the proceeds from the “Bee Chic for a Cause Charity bracelet” to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Canada’s leading land conservation organization.

Scarves For Water & Skincare By Obakki

Philanthropy is at the core of Obakki’s philosophy. The Vancouver-based label is back with their classic Scarves For Water collection ($49/ea). You can feel more than good about gifting or buying one for yourself as 100% of proceeds go towards drilling clean water wells in Africa. So far, the brand has helped construct over 3,500 of them — with many more to come.

Obakki’s scarves for water.

These wardrobe staples are super easy to wear and come in a slew of colours like neutral or Dolce and Came. Or opt for something on the brighter side with pops of colours like bright orange, or jewel tones like the purple-toned Aubergine.

Obakki has expanded its charitable offerings with its stunningly packaged skincare products, using sourced shea butter and ingredients from women living in the Bidi Bidi refugee resettlement area of Uganda.

Obakki’s relax and indulge gift set.

The company has committed to starting a training program to teach women how to collect and process the shea nuts, then purchases the product back at a higher-than-market price. Choose from a selection of offerings,, including the sugar scrub, soap and candle gift set for $99.

Blue Ruby’s Cause We Care Bracelets

Cause We Care has been dedicated to helping single moms and their children in need since 2007. Led by Andrea Hill, the group leads year-round initiatives, including the construction of YWCA Cause We Care House aimed at making a difference on the Downtown East Side.

The organization recently launched the Single Mothers Support Fund, benefiting single moms enrolled in education or back to work training programs to help get them back to financial independence.

The charity has once again partnered with Vancouver-based jewelry company Blue Ruby on a collection of sparkling and stackable bracelets ($40-$150), with 100% of proceeds going to the CWC foundation.

Blue Ruby’s charity bracelets support Cause We Care.

Blue Ruby’s newly designed pieces are hand-crafted in the Lower Mainland with iridescent freshwater pearls, clear bright crystals, and gold-filled hammered textured beads.

Beyond providing homes for mothers and their children through subsidized housing, the facility offers a broad range of resources. Through generous sponsors and volunteers, the group also runs a successful Christmas Hamper program annually.

Through their partnership with Blue Ruby, over $750,000 has been raised.

Available in-store at Blue Ruby and Hill’s of Kerrisdale, and in-store and online via Hill’s Dry Goods.

Mugs by Our Place

These Full of Price mugs by Our Place (set of two for $65) fit with the popular brands’ aesthetic, paying tribute to the LGBT+ community with a rainbow design inside.

The Full of Pride mug set by Our Place.

Part of the Traditionware® collection, this mug set was designed by Queer Japanese-Mexican ceramic artist Viviana Matsuda. The limited-edition cups are hand-painted with the rainbow colours of Queer joy, solidarity and protection.

Of the proceeds 20% will go towards The 519’s Food Security Program to alleviate food insecurity among LGBTQ2S communities, families, and neighbours.

Apparel By See You Soon Toronto

Empty streets, parks, and restaurants inspired this streetwear label during the COVID-19 pandemic. See You Soon Toronto is a collaboration between Lifetime Developments Brian Brown, eTalk host Tyrone Edwards, and graph designer Ben Johnston, who wanted to inspire hope that we could all be together again.

A t-shirt by See You Soon Toronto.

Choose from the labels premium t-shirts for adults ($20) and toddlers, cozy hoodies ($50), face masks ($10) and more. 100% of proceeds go to COVID-19 relief efforts.

The Gift Refinery Box

The Gift Refinery has put together a beautifully curated subscription box full of all Canadian-made products including beauty, wellness, pantry items and jewelry.

This season’s subscription box by The Gift Refinery.

The holiday edition ($124.95 for a one-time purchase, or annual subscription for $99.95/box) has highlighted a few of our faves, including Evio Beauty’s Lip Serum, a travel organic soy candle by Aija Candle Co., the Eucalyptus Coco Body Wash by MIFA, the Forma Rosea Facial Polish by Eluo Beauty, and many more.

Each TGR box sold helps support charity Noelle’s Gift, which helps students from Sarnia, Ontario receive their basic necessities.

Toques From The Heart

Toques From The Heart‘s charitable component is simple: for every hat they sell, they donate one to a fellow Canadian in need. The collection, which includes classic ($29.99), merino ($44.99) and hockey team toques ($39.99), was created to help those experiencing homelessness during cold, harsh winters.

The tan merino toque by Toques From The Heart.

The designs, which come in a slew of colours, have an adjustable rim with the inspirational message “stay warm together” embroidered.

Three Ships Beauty Skincare Holiday Gift Set

Perfect for the friend or loved one that is skincare obsessed. Three Ships Beauty‘s holiday gift set ($80) includes the plant-based line’s biggest hits, including the Calm Lavender Hydrosol Toner,  Dream Bio-Retinol Cream (great for lightening dark spots and reducing signs of ageing) and the to-die-for Buttercream Lip Mask. Best of all, the set also comes with a hand-poured LOHN candle in the holiday ready cinnamon + amber set.

Three Ships Beauty’s Skincare Holiday Gift Set.

A portion of every sale is donated back to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which seeks to fulfill the dreams of terminally ill children between 2.5 and 18 years old.

Available online or at Holt Renfrew and The Bay.

Apparel by 4 Letter Series

Storytelling is at the core of sustainably produced apparel line 4 Letter Series. Toronto native Rachel Walderman wanted to create a company with meaning — but still delivered beautiful and well-designed products that celebrate Canadian culture.

A gray shirt by 4 Letter Series.

For the company’s first drop, they collaborated with poet Bianca Sparacino (@rainbowsalt on Instagram) on a collection focused around two sets of four words that can be interpreted differently by each person: “Love, Lust, Fuck, Next” and “Lost, Soul, Real, Heal.” Prices start at $148.

The company will be making donations monthly to local Ontario charities supporting autism.

BLK ROSE Candles

This Black-owned candle company is committed to celebrating Black excellence and culture through both scent and stories.

The Angela candle by BLK ROSE.

The BLK ROSE Candle is 100% soy wax and hand-poured in small batches in Alberta. They feature beautiful, hand-crafted fragrances that are phthalate-free and non-toxic. 15% of proceeds go to to BIPOC-led community initiatives.

Sappho New Paradigm’s Lip Gloss

Vancouver-beauty brand Sappho New Paradigm was founded by Emmy-nominated makeup artist JoAnn Fowler.

The “Speak Volumes” Lip Gloss by Sappho New Paradigm.

The Emmy nominee sought to create a vegan and organic makeup brand with a conscious ethos, that’s also aimed at giving back.\This season, she released the vibrant limited-edition “Speak Volumes” lip gloss ($36), with new face Alexis Fisher (Ktunaxa) with net proceeds being donated to Indigenous health and healing cooperative Kílala Lelum, located on Vancouver’s Downtown East Side.

Available online via Sappho New Paradigm.

Canadian Artist Ola Volo’s 2021 Champion The Truth Collection

For the art lover — this gift is both meaningful and gives back. Canadian artist Ola Volo teamed up with News Media Canada to produce a custom art piece entitled “Champions.” Inspired by the ability of media to connect Canadians from all walks of life, this piece highlights the importance of journalism and Canada’s news media.

Canadian artist Ola Volo’s “Champions” print. (Credit: Ola Volo)

Released in time for National Newspaper Week earlier this fall, the limited edition 20″ x 19.5″ print ($125) features three trailblazing characters representing both journalists and readers and landmarks from across Canada to celebrate the countries unique melting pot. A portion of proceeds from each sale is donated to the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression to support our country’s media industry.

The print is also available in a journal.

PUR x CARE’s Holiday Collection

For the beauty maven: PUR has teamed up with humanitarian organization CARE for a holiday collection ($16-$49) of their most popular products, including their lipsticks, moisturizer, and more.

PUR x CARE’s collection.

Every product sold in the collection will contribute to unlocking a $100,000 donation to CARE that will help defeat poverty around the worldThe limited-edition assortment is available for purchase through PURCosmetics.com, with products ranging from $16-$49.

Tentree at Nordstrom

Clothing brand Tentree isn’t just committed to sustainability in their design and manufacturing process, but also beyond: for every item purchased, the company plants 10 trees.

The brand, best known for its organic cotton blends, sweatshirts and flannels, makes environmentalism accessible to just about everyone. The Golden Spruce Organic Cotton Blend Crewneck Sweatshirt in Apple Butter Red ($68) is the perfect classic and cozy holiday gift, along with the matching Bamone joggers ($78).

The Golden Spruce Organic Cotton Blend Crewneck Sweatshirt by Tentree. (Credit: Nordstrom)

Through their partnership with Nordstrom, the two companies will be planting 50,000 trees. Customers can stay engaged through QR codes on the clothing tags, where they can track exactly where their trees are being planted.

The Bamone Joggers by Tentree. (Credit: Nordstrom)

Available online or in-store at Nordstrom.

Ikea’s Sagoskatt Collection

This year, Ikea’s soft toy drawing competition has a Canadian connection: 10-year-old Audrey from Saskatoon was one of the five winners in the kids-only contest with her “Sandwich Friends” design!

The “Sandwich Friends” toy was designed by a 10-year-old in Saskatoon.

The Swedish company is donating 100% proceeds from Audrey’s “Sandwich Friends” toy  ($4.99) and the entire Sagoskatt collection to local children’s organizations across Canada that support their right to play and develop.

Perfect for the young one on your list. Available at Ikea stores or online.

Waterproof Mittens by Jan & Jul

Mittens for a cause. Jan & Jul’s kids-sized waterproof mittens ($25.99) are warm and fleece lined thanks to 3M’s Thinsulate technology. They are designed to keep snow and soil out in an array of colours from turquoise to camo print and hot pink.

Jan & Jul’s waterproof mittens.

The brand donates 10 meals to kids in need for each pair of mittens sold. Since 2018, the company has donated over 40,000 meals to school-aged children through the United Nations World Food Programme with the goal of ending the cycle of hunger.

Available online via Jan & Jul for babies toddlers and kids from 0 – 8 years old.

SERIES Collection by Leah Yard Designs

Local designer Leah Yard and her partner Kyle both own small businesses near the Downtown East Side.

After seeing how COVID-19 further devastated the neighbourhood, the duo teamed up for a special small-batch apparel line labelled SERIES. Fifteen percent of each sale is donated to the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, helping vulnerable women in the area.

The Brooklyn Satchel by Leah Yard Designs.

There are several items available in the line, including their most popular: The Brooklyn Satchel in black with gold hardware ($110).

Each item from the charitable SERIES collection includes a quote.

The classic and casual canvas bag can be worn as a tote for work, or a purse if you want to remove the shoulder strap. It includes a fully lined interior, a hook closure, two cellphone and key pockets and a zippered pouch with a SERIES quote.

All the items are designed and printed in Canada.

True and You’s Candles & Skincare

Wellness brand True and You is donating 1% of their candle sales to Plastic Oceans Canada and The Ocean Cleanup.

Their hand-poured soy candles in the Oud Wood + Leather ($40) scent is a must-have. The moody and sexy scent is reminiscent of curling up in a leather chair with a book while sipping on a vintage brandy.

A candle by True and You.

For the candle lover who can’t pick one, the Scent Sampler Pack ($10) has something for everyone, including the Orange + Santal, Bamboo + Eucalyptus, Fig + Honey, and Gardenia + Wild Violet.

The So Clean Kit.

For the skincare buff, there’s also the So Clean Kit ($35). Includes reusable organic cotton and velvet fibre pads to remove makeup and dirt with just water, providing an earth-friendly alternative to disposable makeup-removing wipes. Not only are they gentle and durable, they last 150 uses and come with an organic cotton spa headband and drawstring bag.

Tiffany & Co.’s Save the Wild Collection

A little blue box under the tree is guaranteed to make anyone’s Christmas. The New York-based jeweller continues to give back with their Save the Wild initiative, donating 100% of profits from the collection to the Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) to support the Elephant Crisis Fund, Lion Recovery Fund, and Rhino Recovery Fund.

Tiffany & Co.’s Save The Wild collection.

Tiffany & Co. has raised more than US $10 million for these organizations, which work on the ground to protect these endangered species. Funds are donated where the need is greatest for each of the three species – from anti-poaching efforts to ivory and horn demand reduction initiatives.

The sterling silver mini elephant charm.

The collection ranges in price, starting with the adorable elephant charm, wild rhino and wild lion charms in sterling silver ($360) or a chain ($490). All three mini charms are also available in rose gold ($855, or chain for $1265) and diamond versions.

24 Good Deeds Advent Calendar

This advent calendar with a twist is all about giving back. 24 Good Deeds (starting a minimum donation of $24) swaps out the traditional chocolate pieces for an opportunity to use time in a meaningful way: behind each door, a different charity and cause you supported via purchase is featured.

24 Good Deeds advent calendar.

The initiative started back in Germany in 2011 and has since spread its wing’s around the world — including Canada. This years’ edition features 24 Canadian charities aiding in local and global initiates and comes in both English and French.

Last year’s calendar supported over 100,000 good deeds, including medical treatment, food security, environmental protection and education.

Available online via 24GoodDeeds.ca.

One Tree Planted X Unwrapit

Through an online corporate gifting portal like Unwrapit, you can give gifts with a purpose.

One Tree Planted X Unwrapit.

Unwrapit has partnered with One Tree Planted to plant trees as gifts of appreciation for employees and customers. By gifting a planted tree to your team, customers or business partners, not only are you helping the environment with reforestation efforts, but you’re also putting an end to unnecessary and, in some cases, unwanted physical gifts that end up in landfills.

Recipients can choose where they want to plant the tree and are presented with a downloadable tree certificate at the end of the experience stamped with their name and the date — starting at $1.

Cassandra GillCassandra Gill

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