GIFTING 2016 = Gifts that Do Good.

We’ve all been there, sniffing candle after candle hoping to strike the perfect cord for your Secret Santa, or worse resorting to the gag gift after hours of futile gift shopping. I love Christmas shopping for those I love but sometimes, I’ll admit, I fall short of my own grand expectations. If we’re being honest, we’re really after something that tells the recipient of your gift that you have been listening to them over this last year and know a little about them and what they hold dear. Enter what I would argue is the perfect gift: a donation in your friend, coworker, or loved one’s name to an organization that supports a cause they feel passionately about. As adults, the majority of us have the things we need and some of us are fortunate enough to have the things we want (and then some) too. Why not support a need in our community with a charitable gift this holiday season? I guarantee your gift-ee will not only love it more than that festive pine-scented candle you were eyeing, but they’ll feel good, you’ll feel good, while your gift actually does good. Support these local causes and opportunities for “Gifts That Do Good:”

 

SHARE Charlotte

Supporting hundreds of local charities by connecting community members to each organization’s individual needs. Through SHARE Charlotte, you can find charities where you can donate your time, money, or pick an item from their wish list. When you purchase a wish list item, it goes straight to the charity and you know exactly where your money goes in the organization. You could buy the Humane Society of Charlotte bones or Girls on the Run mini first aid kits.

A successful Giving Tuesday for SHARE Charlotte, photo by SHARE Charlotte
A successful Giving Tuesday for SHARE Charlotte, photo by SHARE Charlotte

 

The Cam Newton Foundation

The Carolinas’ favorite QB makes establishing and strengthening relationships within the community a team effort through his foundation. Through annual signature events like the Kicking it With Cam! Celebrity Kickball Tournament, Santa Cam’s Surprise Sleigh, and the Cam Newton Foundation Charity Weekend, this organization raises funds to help enhance the educational, physical, and emotional needs of the Charlotte area’s children.

Photo by The Cam Newton Foundation
Photo by The Cam Newton Foundation

 

Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte

With the mission of providing a safe, affordable, and caring “home-away-from-home” for the families of children receiving treatment in Charlotte-area medical facilities, The Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte is known as “The House That Love Built.” While their children seek necessary medical treatment, families are given support both literally and intangibly. The Ronald McDonald House puts a roof over their heads, food in their bellies, and love in their hearts through lodging, meals, and emotional support during their stay, however long or short that may be.

 

Junior League of Charlotte

Your donation to the Junior League of Charlotte, an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, touches not one, but many local charities by advancing their mission to developing the potential of women and improve the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. This organization improves the lives of children and families in our community by partnering with Alexander Youth Network, EmpowHERment, Second Harvest Food Bank, Promising Pages, and more providing funds, volunteers, and an unrelenting passion to serve.

 

Glorious

Founded when Charlotte’s own Hannah Beavers left her corporate job at GE, Glorious partners with Tanzanian and Guatemalan leaders to build sustainable communities though childhood education. Rather than building a well or a school then packing up and leaving, Glorious is embedded in the success of its communities providing constant support through food, healthcare, education, and other forms of support.

 

Care Ring

CareRing reaches over 7.000 people in need annually by providing vital health services to uninsured, under-insured, and low-income residents of Mecklenburg County. Their mission is to empower individuals with limited resources to establish and maintain good health through low-cost clinics, home visitation programs for first-time, at-risk mothers, and donated services from local physicans.

 

HopeWay

Broadening the scope of mental health care and education for adults in the Charlotte area, HopeWay opened its doors to our community this year answering the need for a residential mental health center in Charlotte. HopeWay aims to provide support, healing, and education to Charlotte and for those battling mental illness, their loved ones, and the community as a whole.

 

Carolina Raptor Center

Raptor is another name for a bird of prey, not just a terrifying Jurassic Park dinosaur. The Carolina Raptor Center is dedicated to environmental stewardship and the conservation of birds of prey through education, research, and the rehabilitation of injured or orphaned raptors.  The organization’s science education programs serve over 27,000 students annually while the 3/4 mile Rator Trail and Edna S. Moretti Environmental Education Center welcome over 35,000 visitors a year.  Located in Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, this hidden gem is a must-visit for locals and tourists alike.

Photo by The Carolina Raptor Center
Photo by The Carolina Raptor Center

 

Trees Charlotte

The tree-hugger in your life will love a gift in their name made to this organization. After a short drive down Queens Road, it isn’t hard to see why Charlotte is known as “The City of Trees” with one of the finest urban forests in the country. To help achieve the Charlotte City Council’s tree canopy coverage goal of 50% by 2050, 500,000 trees will need to be planted over the coming years. This season, TreesCharlotte will plant or give away over 10,000-12,000 trees and seedlings during their community events and through their TreeStores.

trees

 

Misty Meadows Mitey Riders

Through their nationally-recognized equine-assisted therapy programs for children with special needs, Mitey Riders offers a positive, non-judgemental environment for riders and their families to support goals from other therapies and schools. The values of confidence, empathy, love, volunteering, concentration, and unconditional acceptance taught to the riders can be applied both on and off the farm to help them grow and develop. In April 2016, CNN named founder, Harry Swimmer, a CNN Hero– one of 25 individuals recognized for extraordinary contributions to humanitarian aid. Well done in making the top 10 and thank you for what you’re doing for the community, Harry!

mitey

 

Sustain Charlotte

We all know the type, a die-hard Panthers fan with an even more unshakable love for the city we call home. Sustain Charlotte supports community improvement efforts that will be music to the ears of anyone that supports the responsible growth and development of our city. Through education, engagement, and unity this organization envisions a region in which everyone has the knowledge, resources, and opportunity to make choices with a clear awareness of their combined social, economic, and environmental impacts leading to a healthier and more vibrant community for generations to come. Proponents of the Charlotte protected bike lanes, a donation honoring your favorite Charlotte-loving biker is sure to please!

 

Charlotte Speech and Hearing Center

A testament to the staying power of the Junior League of Charlotte’s community impact, The Charlotte Speech and Hearing Center was founded by the League in 1967 as the first community speech and hearing center in North Carolina. Now a United Way agency, they hold dear the belief that communication is the key to connecting with the world. The center provides a full range of effective speech-language and hearing services to everyone in need. Don’t miss out on their 50th anniversary charity gala next fall!

 

Hospice & Palliative Care, Charlotte Region/Chameleon’s Journey

Since they opened their doors in 1978, Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region has provided end-of-life care, grief support, and community education to the Charlotte area. Although their daily work is solemn, one of their grief support programs is actually a camp that encourages children to express their emotions in constructive (and fun!) ways. Chameleon’s Journey is a weekend camp for children who have lost a loved one where they encourage help, hope, and healing through activities that provide opportunities to express grief and other emotions (happy ones too!) through music, drama, writing, and visual art alongside recreational activities like canoeing, zip lining, and field games.

Photo by Hospice & Palliative Care, Charlotte Region
Photo by Hospice & Palliative Care, Charlotte Region

 

Humane Society of Charlotte

The Humane Society of Charlotte is working to make their dream of a world without homeless and unwanted animals a reality through adoptions, spay/neuter services, and education. They need your help to realize this lofty goal and can only accomplish this with continued community support through voluntarism, donations, and participation in their signature events, including the annual Ties & Tails Gala. A donation in their name or ticket to one of the Humane Society’s events would be a perfect gift for the animal lover in your life!

 

24 Hours of Booty

Since it’s inception in Charlotte, this event has spread to Columbia, MD and Indianapolis as it gains popularity for a fun event that also benefits a great cause. 24 Hours of Booty gives teams that fundraise for the Levine Cancer Institute and The LIVESTRONG foundation access to a traffic-free loop through Myers Park on the famous Booty Loop for 24 hours in July. Cyclists of all abilities participate and log a wide range of miles over the event with Bootyville being the center for all of the action including demos, awards, and participant meals. 24 Hours of Booty encourages fighters, survivors, and family to #FightasOne to make a greater impact in the local and national cancer community.

 

Rebuilding Together of Greater Charlotte

Rebuilding Together serves disabled and aging homeowners, those displaced by natural disasters, and veterans with disabilities by helping to provide a safe and healthy home for every person. They facilitate free home modifications and repairs to fulfill this mission and have served on 86 local projects since opening in November 2010. Some of the services they offer are wheelchair ramp construction, gutter replacement, painting, landscaping and more repairs and upgrades.

 

So whether they’re a tree hugger or someone that prefers hugging puppies, a biker or a horseback rider, there’s something good for everyone on your list in our top picks for “Gifts That Do Good.” While unwrapping a big, fat, juicy gift is nice, purses break, silver tarnishes, and things lose their luster quickly. This season is really about sharing love and joy with those around us. Give the gift of Christmas spirit this year that will keep your friends and family toasty with the “warm fuzzies” well into 2017 and make a lasting impact in the Queen City. Kindness is cool, kiddos!

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Nicole Brantley
Nicole is a native Charlottean that loves the Queen City almost as much as running, writing, and type-A organization.

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