ConnectOC Blog

Gifts that change the world

Posted by: Shelley Hoss on 11/25/2013

By Shelley Hoss
Originally published in the Orange County Register November 25, 2013

The ConnectOC Blog is a place for sharing insight, information and examples of how Orange County residents, donors and nonprofits are working to build a brighter, stronger, more vibrant community.  We welcome you to share your thoughts by commenting below.

Consider buying products from organizations that also help people in need.

It’s holiday season, when goodwill fills us with cheer even as it threatens to stretch us a little thin. Our desire to give doesn't stop with holiday gifts for family and friends. Nearly seven out of 10 Americans say giving to a charity is important this season, a 10 percent bump from a similar poll conducted last year by the American Red Cross.

The support is deeply needed. And the good news is there are many gifts you can give that also help people in need. For example, you can support vulnerable populations by buying gifts from social enterprises. Many brands have missions to solve economic problems, protect the environment, support struggling communities and more.

“Their revenues not only raise money for a specific cause, they integrate those they serve into the production of the products, so that they learn a skill, earn profits and can even build businesses,” says Todd Hanson, vice president of donor and community engagement at the Orange County Community Foundation. 

Fortunately, there are many options for giving gifts that have a “double bottom line” of helping those in need while at the same time bringing in revenue for a nonprofit.

The Orange County Community Foundation publishes an annual guide for companies and organizations with cause-integrated products. All of these organizations are based right here in Orange County.


Here are some ideas to spark your imagination:

  • For the fashionista on your list, consider giving some jewelry from International Sanctuary. Former victims of human trafficking in India make jewelry to earn wages so that they can become self-reliant. Or check out the Punjammies clothing line from Costa Mesa-based International Princess Products, an organization that provides fair wages, savings accounts and holistic recovery care to women in India rescued from forced prostitution with fair wages, savings accounts and holistic recovery care.
  • Want to give  to an outdoor enthusiast? Krochet Kids is a Costa Mesa-based nonprofit that sells head-wear and other knits made by people in the developing countries of Uganda and Peru, many of whom have been able to establish independent livelihoods as a result. 
  • Even holiday dining can be a charitable act when you consider catering options that are run by nonprofit organizations. One example is Hart Community Homes in Fullerton, which provides a refuge for boys removed from their homes because of severe neglect, abandonment or abuse. Its café and catering services  help the young men build skills for self-empowerment.  
Download your copy of the gift-giving guide at  As you celebrate the holidays, remember that through the simple act of giving you can touch the lives of those you’ve never met in ways you never imagined.  It’s how we can change the world together.


Shelley Hoss is president of the Orange County Community Foundation. She can be reached at

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