It's upon us once again: the holiday season of shopping, food, parties and general merry-making. It's also the time of year when many people look to share the spirit of the season, and with end-of-year tax write-offs, the time is never better to help your neighbors and improve your community through giving. Holiday giving also takes the focus away from the over-consumption that is all too prevalent during the holidays.
If you're looking to spread the holiday cheer, here are some worthwhile and unique ways to do so.
One way to tackle holiday shopping is to purchase fair trade items that genuinely support the makers. Ten Thousand Villages
on South Congress has extended holiday hours from 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Sundays, where you can buy artisan-crafted home decor, personal accessories and gift items from across the globe. Featuring products from more than 130 artisan groups in some 38 countries, the Austin store is part of a network of over 390 retail outlets throughout the United States.
As one of the world’s oldest and largest fair trade organizations, Ten Thousand Villages has spent more than 60 years cultivating trading relationships in which artisans receive a fair price for their work and consumers have access to distinctive handcrafted items.
Are you into the local urban farm scene? Like fresh, healthy foods and want to spread the love to lower-income neighbors? Then help fulfill some of the items on the Sustainable Food Center
Holiday Wish List. Needed items include things such as seeds, work gloves, ollas, knives, picnic tables, food processors and more. From seed to table, SFC creates opportunities for individuals to make healthy food choices and participate in a vibrant local food system.
Through organic food gardening, relationships with area farmers, interactive cooking classes and nutrition education, children and adults have increased access to locally grown food and are empowered to improve the long-term health of Central Texans and our environment.
December 18 at Guero's Oak Garden offers excellent opportunity to pick up some original art, and support ENGLISH @ WORK
, a nonprofit whose mission is to increase immigrants’ opportunities for advancement by providing essential English language instruction at the workplace. Their students are hotel and hospital housekeepers, food service workers and grocery store prep cooks, hailing from 30 different countries. They all share one common goal: to speak English well enough to do a good job and help support their families.
Since its founding in 2005 founding, ENGLISH @ WORK has served over 800 immigrant and refugee workers at over 31 businesses in the construction, healthcare, and hospitality industries in Austin and Central Texas.
Get your holiday music fix and support the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians
(HAAM). The 2nd annual HAAM holiday album features a variety of well-known artists including Clint Black and White Ghost Shivers, along with new holiday music for all to enjoy. 100 percent of the proceeds go to HAAM, which provides access to affordable health care for Austin's low-income, uninsured working musicians. The CD release party takes place on Wednesday, December 12 at Antone's, but the album can purchased any time at Waterloo Records, the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar or online
If your holiday shopping list includes children, a great way to include them in giving (or honor a friend or family member) is by purchasing a present for children who aren't fortunate enough to have their own families. The Miracle Foundation
supports children's homes in India, where hundreds of children live with housemothers, receiving nutritious food, medical care and education through The Miracle Foundation's donor base. With Gifts That Matter
, you can purchase anything from mosquito nets, school bags, winter clothing and sport equipment to a water purification system or field trip for the kids.
H.O.P.E. is a grassroots effort conceived by Organizing for America volunteers, which helps to gather resources for members of the community most in need of assistance. This year, they are conducting virtual online drives for Capital Area Food Bank
and House the Homeless
. A $25 contribution provides $125 worth of food for the Food Bank or keeps someone warm with one set of thermal underwear, gloves, a hat and a scarf for House the Homeless.