Tag Archives: nyc bloggers do the holidays

G&G For the Holidays: Gifts That Give Back

1 Dec
2010

This post is part of the second annual NYC Bloggers Do the Holidays, where a group of New York’s top bloggers join forces to bring you the best that this city has to offer for the holiday season! Check out the list of participating bloggers below. Read them all, and you’ll have no problem navigating this city and taking it for all it’s worth…After the jump, check out my contribution: Gifts that Give Back.

‘the improvised life’: Design (or Hack) Your Own Holiday E-Cards

Manhattan User’s Guide: The Gift Guide: 21 Over $21

Markets of New York: Festive Food at New York’s Holiday Markets

Patell and Waterman’s History of New York: Christmas with Andy Warhol

We Heart Astoria: The Best Places To Shop Local – WHA Holiday Gift Guide

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Last year I gave you some tips on where to volunteer all month long (I’ve gone back and updated what I could, so be sure to check it out, and volunteer!). This year, Give and Get will be your guide to shopping for a cause-places to buy gifts while also giving back to your favorite NYC charities. Anyone who receives emails from major retailers is aware of the growing trend of incorporating charitable giving into everyday shopping, especially during this time of year. I’ve tried to compile a list of those who are making contributions to local, New York-based charities, in addition to non-profits who are offering online catalogs that benefit their own organization directly. I’ve also thrown in a few alternative gift ideas that are great for that rich relative who has everything…Read on, my friends, and get ready to knock out your gift list and good deed for the day at the same time.


For people who love kids…

– Retailers owned by participating Friends of Baby Buggy will donate 10% of proceeds to Baby Buggy, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing New York City’s families in need with essential equipment, clothing, and products for their infants and young children. You’ll need a special code at checkout to make sure the donation is made-listed below:

  • Gift Hero: Carries gifts for age 0-10. Code: BUGGY2010
  • Kirna Zabete: Soho shop that carries designers such as Lanvin, Givenchy, Celine, Proenza Schouler and more. Code: KZLOVESBABYBUGGY
  • Baby CZ: A luxury line of cashmere, cotton and silk clothes & accessories for babies, children and women. Code: BUGGY
  • Felix Rey: An ultra-feiminine luxury accessories brand. Code: BUGGY10


For food-loving NYC locals…

God’s Love We Deliver, a popular non-profit organization that delivers food daily to home-bound New Yorkers, delivers more than just meals during the holiday season. Clients receive gift baskets full of delicious treats (and meals), all delivered in shopping bags decorated by school children. You can purchase gifts from their holiday catalog, including GLWD aprons and oven mitts, wine glasses and more, with proceeds benefiting the organization. With demand for their services up 21% in just the first three months of the current fiscal year, a purchase from here will be more important than ever before.

 

Going once, going twice…

Bidding For Good is an online auction platform that allows non-profit organizations to set up fundraising auctions for themselves that maximize their reach and potential to raise more money. You can search by cause and/or state, or just by auction items, which range from restaurant gift certificates to all-inclusive vacations, all benefiting a specific charity! This is a great site to use if you’re a fan of Ebay, or want to find a specific cause to give to while you shop..The auctions run for a few weeks, so be sure to check back for new causes and items throughout the month. Currently running is an auction to benefit the West Side YMCA Teen Center; it’s running until December 10th at 9pm- bid now!

 

For your tchotchke-loving friend or coworkers…

Exit 9 has been called a cross between a museum gift shop and a kitschy toy store. After passing by last weekend, I can confirm that it is in fact, just that. You’ll be able to find gag gifts, iPod accessories, children’s craft kits and everything in between. My favorite were the bandaids that look like strips of bacon (which I got for my 6-yr old nephew). More importantly, they’re encouraging people to shop locally while supporting local charities. During their ’12 Days of Charity’ promotion (December 1st-12th) you’ll be able to choose which of the eight local non-profit organizations they’ve listed will receive 10% of profits. Organizations include: BARC Brooklyn Animal Rescue Coalition, GenerationOn, God’s Love We Deliver, LES Girls Club, Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, Public School 58Public School 261, Transportation Alternatives. You can shop online, or find even more merchandise at one of their two retail locations (in Brooklyn and on the LES)

 

For the person who has everything and enough money to buy it if they don’t…

– Let’s call this person Charlie. Charlie is the hardest person to get gifts for. Unless it’s perishable, you’re likely getting him something he already has, or doesn’t want. In the past few years, I’ve taken a departure from the traditional gifts and began to give donations in other people’s names. It’s a really personal gesture that will (hopefully) make them much more appreciative of your gift than last year’s wine stopper or coaster set. More specific ideas for your Charlie:

  • Does your Charlie love the outdoors? Make a donation to MillionTreesNYC or Fresh Air Fund. An avid gardner? Help fund a project on ioby (‘in our backyards’). Whatever you choose, just be sure to Charlie that you’ve made a donation in his honor. Check out ‘the improvised life‘ blog for more tips on double-duty gifts and cards, and Cards That Give, a great source for charity greeting cards.
  • If you want to get a little more sentimental, you can request/pick up a letter to Santa (depending on your budget-gifts requested are usually under $40-maybe more than one). You can fulfill a child’s wish by sending them their gift from Santa on Charlie’s behalf. Give the child’s letter to Charlie with a note that says something along the lines of “In lieu of a gift, I’ve given this little girl the Barbie she always wanted and couldn’t afford, on your behalf..” You can get these letters from the James A Farley Building in midtown. (New York Cares runs a similar program but registration has closed)
  • If your Charlie is a little more global-minded, you can gift something even bigger, with long-lasting effects. Heifer International allows you to donate sheep, llamas, goats and more, to impoverished children and families around the world, and help them receive training and animal gifts that help them become self-reliant. After your donation, you’ll have the opportunity to create a printable gift card or e-card to tell Charlie that you’ve honored him with a Heifer gift. (Update: It’s been brought to my attention that there are differing opinions regarding HI’s practices and their ethical merit. Read here about another point of view. Charity Navigator is one place to check on how donations are distributed by NPOs- know who you’re donating to before you donate, always)

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So there you have it.. some different places to cross people off your list while giving back to some NYC non-profits. Did I miss something? It’s likely! If you’ve got something to add, please comment below or email to info@giveandgetnyc.com.

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‘Tis the Season to Volunteer

1 Dec

As part of the first ever “NYC Bloggers Do the Holidays,” Give & Get will be your ultimate guide to volunteering in NYC during the holiday season. At the end of this post you’ll find a list of 12 other dedicated New York blogs participating. Read them all, and you’ll have all your bases covered when it comes to this holiday season in NYC…

If you’re looking to give back to NYC this holiday season, you’ve come to the right place. From volunteering your time to donating presents, I’ve got you covered. There are endless opportunities available in this city, and this guide should provide a way to get you started…

For Santa’s…

  • An easy way to give back during the holiday season is, well, to give. Today (December 1st) starts Operation Santa in NYC, which is a program run by the US Postal Service. Each year, thousands of needy children write letters to Santa, asking for things that their families cannot afford to buy them, from video games and toys to warm clothing and diapers for their siblings. Operation Santa allows people to answer these children’s letters and send them the gifts that they would have otherwise gone without. You can head to the James A. Farley Building on 8th Avenue to pick up a letter between now and Christmas Eve.
  • New York Cares runs a ‘Winter Wishes‘ program, which is similar to Operation Santa, but they also allow team giving which enables you and your coworkers or friends to fulfill a TON of wishes (individuals can take up to 20 letters, teams can take a lot more). They screen over 32,000 letters from children, teens, and families living in New York City.

There are also many places in the city that have holiday parties and drives, where you can donate gifts and celebrate at the same time! Here are just a few:

  • Toy Drive at the Village Pourhouse : On December 8th, head to the Village Pourhouse with a new toy to donate and you’ll receive a drink on the house! You can get details and RSVP with OneBrick, who is hosting the event. UPDATED 12/1/10: This years toy drive will take place on Tuesday, December 14th-same place, same deal!
  • UJA Federation of NY has some great opportunities listed for holiday giving, including a Holiday Gift Bag Delivery on December 16th at the JASA center (Jewish Association for Services for the Aged) in Chelsea. They need volunteers to organize drives for supplies to put inside the gift bags (in advance), and you can help deliver the gifts to homebound seniors that night. On December 20th, you can help throw a Chanukah party at Selfhelp (organization for Holocaust Survivors) in Pelham Parkway, Bronx. Go to the UJA website for all the details and contact info: Go to site>>
  • Inner-City Scholarship Fund is having a Christmas Party on December 12th, thrown by their junior committee for the kids in grades 1-3. There will be ornament decorating, card-making stations and other activities for kids to participate in. Volunteers who wish to sign up should email ICSFJC@gmail.com with “Christmas Party” in the subject line, and you’ll receive more details as the event approaches.

For Santa’s Little Helpers…

The holiday season is a great time to introduce your kids to the world of volunteering. At a time when they are being showered with gifts and love, it’s nice to take some time to explain that not all children are able to enjoy the holidays. Some activities you can do with your little ones that don’t take a lot of time, can go a long way in showing them that they can help other people have a better  holiday:

  • Your children can spend some time making ‘Happy Holidays’ cards, that you can drop off at a local senior center or organization that visits homebound seniors, hospitals, or other places where people may be lonely and need some cheering up. It’s a fun, inexpensive project you can do together.
  • When you go shopping for gifts, allow your child to pick out one gift to give to someone else. It doesn’t have to be expensive, and it will make them feel good knowing that another kid will get the awesome gift they picked out (see above for places to donate toys..)
  • Check out Mommy Poppins post “Holiday Charity and Volunteering with Kids in NYC” for more kid-friendly ideas.

For Rudolph’s…

Rudolph helped lead Santa’s sleigh through the night, and you can lead your own volunteer project just like him. Organizing a drive to collect goods is a great way to give back without having to spend money. Always remember to call ahead to any place you intend to donate to make sure they can take your collection!

  • Hold a food drive in your office, apartment building, or local community center (for do’s and don’ts of collection, see my previous post about coat drives). You can use the NYC Coalition Against Hunger website to locate a food pantry or soup kitchen by zip code. (this is also a great resource for finding volunteer opportunities nearby).
  • Start a coat drive; it’s easy and helps clear space in your closet-a win-win I think. You can donate to a local church or synagogue, shelters, Goodwill or Salvation Army store, OR, you can get in on New York Cares Annual Coat Drive action by hosting a drive yourself and then delivering your coats to their Manhattan warehouse. New York Cares will provide you with flyers and posters for your drive, or if you choose to donate elsewhere, you can download flyers here from me.
  • Brooklyn Based had a great post about giving back in Brooklyn, from volunteering time to donating goods. Check out the “Causes We Can Believe In” post.

For Elves…

One of the best ways to give back is to give your time to someone else. A few hours volunteering costs nothing but time, and it means a lot to the people you’re giving it to. I’ve mentioned a few places already that have special holiday volunteer events, but there are endless opportunities in NYC to give back all year round. Here are just a few organizations that make it really easy to find a project. Feel free to look at some of my previous posts to read about specific projects I’ve done.

  • New York Cares is the most well-known volunteer organization in NYC, and for good reason. According to their website, more than 48,000 people volunteer year after year, giving their time to over 400,000 disadvantaged New Yorkers. After a short orientation, you can choose from hundreds of projects to participate in. Go to their website for more information. At the very least, New York Cares website can be used to give you an idea of what is available.
  • Street Project has a limited group of opportunities, making it less overwhelming if you have a hard time deciding what type of activity you want to do, and besides setting up your account, there isn’t much you have to do before signing up for your first project.
  • NYC Service allows you to search for different activities by borough, area of interest, and level of priority; there are a lot of opportunities for people with special skills such as accountants, artists, grant writers, etc.
  • One Brick has various “commitment-free volunteering” opportunities listed by day, and most projects occur after regular work hours, enabling busy professionals to volunteer during the week or on weekends.

Just Give…

Got stuff to get rid of? If its in good condition, you can probably donate it; from cell phones to bed linens to pet supplies. Here are some links to help find a place to donate near you:

 

If you are an organization that has holiday volunteering projects you’d like to share, post them below in the comment box!

 

NYC Bloggers Do the Holidays

Click on each of these links to read from great blogs, for and by New Yorkers. Read them all and you’ll be an NYC Holiday expert in no time…


Brooklyn Based: Home for the Holidays

the improvised life: unwrapping the holidays

Manhattan User’s Guide: The Gift Guide

Patell & Waterman’s History of New York: A little history with your holidays

The Strong Buzz: Holiday Eats Old and New

WFMU’s Beware of the Blog: Happy Freakin’ Holidays Playlist

If you have a NYC blog or website and would like to participate in a future group post, email me at info@giveandgetnyc.com