Giving a charitable gift doesn't have to be limited to writing a check or buying goats for African villages.
1. Rwanda “Vision Trio” bowls
$100, available at Macy’s (111 N State St, 312-781-1000, www.macys.com)
We know you’re having a hard time warming up to Macy’s. But it turns out the company does have a conscience: Macy’s Rwanda Path to Peace collection of one-of-a-kind baskets features beautiful bowls, boxes and wall hangings handwoven by the women of Rwanda. Proceeds provide these women with a reliable income.
2. Amy Sedaris glasses pouch
$20, available at www.fredflare.com
Need another reason to adore Second City alum Amy Sedaris? She loves bunnies, and a portion of this Sedaris-designed confection (the other side looks like a sprinkles covered pastry) goes to the House Rabbit Society, an international nonprofit that rescues rabbits and educates the public on rabbit care.
3. Mudlark holiday cards
$15.95 for a pack of 25, available at fleur (3149 W Logan Blvd, 773-395-2770)
If you’re like us, somewhere on your endless holiday to-do list is “buy cards,” but it keeps getting passed over for yule-log burning, fruitcake baking and the like. Don’t resort to last-minute Hallmark chintz: These colorful cards are manufactured locally, and a portion of sales goes to the Child Welfare League of America.
4. Gallery 37 Music Apprenticeship compilations
$15–$45, available at Gallery 37 (66 E Randolph St, 312-744-7274)
There’s more to local music than Kanye and Wilco. For the past seven years, the Gallery 37 Center for the Arts has been helping young Chicagoans develop creative and career-oriented skills through job training and arts education. Its Music Apprenticeship program has released a handful of compilations, from classical (Concerto) to hip-hop (Lyrics), and all proceeds go back to the center.
5. Enterprising Kitchen four-ounce cold process soap bar
$5.30, available at the Field Museum (1400 S Lake Shore Dr, 312-665-7653) and www.theenterprisingkitchen.org
Wash your hands of bad gifts forever. Come clean with these all-natural soaps, handmade in Ravenswood at the Enterprising Kitchen. The nonprofit helps lower-income women by training them at its in-house bath-and-spa-product business. Each product is signed by the woman who packages it; proceeds go back to the Kitchen.
6. TOMS shoes
$38, available at Breathe (1252 S Halsted St, 312-997-2411, www.breatheboutique.com) and www.tomsshoes.com
All right, Imelda: If you can’t stop buying shoes, at least get some that help a good cause. For every pair of TOMS sold, designer Blake Mycoskie ensures that a pair is given to a child in South America, where the shoes are made. The unisex shoes are available in a half-dozen colors.
7. Chicago Honey Co-op holiday tin
$45, available at Green City Winter Market at The Notebaert Nature Museum (2430 N Cannon Dr, 773-755-5100)
The words honey co-op may conjure images of eccentric men in netted hats tending bees in the countryside. But the contents of this gift tin—lip balm, honey-sugar scrub, body balm, votive candle and six-ounce jar of honey—were made using honey harvested in the South Side’s developing neighborhood of North Lawndale. The co-op is composed of low-income residents who maintain an urban apiary to produce One Honey, its product line of the sweet stuff. All proceeds go right back into the hives.
8. Target/American Red Cross First Aid Emergency Preparedness Starter Kit
$29.99, available at Target, locations throughout the city (www.target.com)
Who knew emergency-preparedness kits could be this cute? From flashlights and Band-Aids to a coloring book and crayons to keep the wee ones occupied, Target’s catch-all kit has got disasters in the bag. Plus, $10 from every purchase goes to the American Red Cross.