Today is Thanksgiving, a traditional holiday of gratitude, love and sharing of a meal defined very specifically from family to family. It’s the holiday most associated with the purest sentiments of human relationship; the time we set aside each year to celebrate with nothing more than camaraderie and an abundant table.
Then comes the next day. Black Friday. A hedonistic affair that’s loosely defined as “the first day of the Christmas shopping season”; a day when sales are rampant, shoppers are rabid, and millions are spent in an orgy of consumer overindulgence. Merry freakin’ Christmas.
There’s a meme floating around the Internet lately that offers a stark contrast to this gluttonous exercise and it’s as visceral a comment as any on the panting greed of holiday overconsumption. You’ve probably seen it…it’s pretty hard to forget:
There are several of these images making their way around social media; just click on the caption link above or Google “Define Necessity” and you’ll find them. Some people have called these tragedy porn, poverty porn, or just plain old guilt porn and, on some level, perhaps that’s true. Certainly the juxtaposition of overindulging Americans gorging themselves on “things” while children are dying of starvation can do little else but inspire a sense of guilt.
So what are we to do, those of us blessed with ample food, shelter, clothing and money to engage in the holiday tradition of gift giving? Are we to not participate, withdraw in a statement of solidarity with the impoverished? We look at the frenetic shoppers shoving each other aside in a panicked rush to the sales tables on Black Friday and clearly that’s not an admirable endeavor. So balance – balance in how we gift, what we buy, and who we buy it from – is the key.
Of course, charitable donations during the holidays are a traditional way to altruistically give. Many organizations offer gift cards for those donations, acknowledgments of a financial gift made in the name of a friend or family member. Giving to women’s shelters, homeless shelters and children’s homes are always appreciated.
But what if you want to combine a charitable financial transaction with actually buying a bona fide gift? Something thoughtful to wrap and name-tag and watch being opened by the happy recipient at some holiday gathering?
That’s right, do good and buy from one of the first online resources that donates 50% of its profits to good causes. From founder and CEO, Zack Rosenberg:
“We shop. We donate. But what if every time we bought high quality products and fashion items, we could guarantee that a large percentage of every dollar helped those in need? That was the simple idea I had. The story of DoGoodBuyUs began as I searched for something that was good for my son, when I realized the impact that a purchase could have on others. Here you can find everything from tea to t-shirts, from rain boots to coffee, from jewelry to soaps, all supporting 100′s of worthy causes. We believe the world can’t change until consumerism does. That’s why we created the largest marketplace of charity-made products.
“With each purchase, 50%+ proceeds are dedicated to fighting poverty, hunger, disease, environmental degradation and other life-threatening ills around the globe. Now anyone can ‘do good’ just by buying beautiful, often hand-made, items that support the worthiest causes.
“We also offer non-profits a unique platform to raise awareness and money by selling their quality products to an online community of caring consumers.”
The catalogue Zack and his team have put together offers a charming collection of accessories, clothes, household items, jewelry, dance marathons (you’ll have to click here to see what that’s all about!), and gifts focused on specific causes or cultural and education awareness. It’s unabashedly “win-win.”
So while you avoid places like Walmart on Black Friday, reject the pack-mentality of holiday overconsumption, and look for ways to make your gift giving count by sending some of your business to DoGoodBuyUs, you might also want to check out a few other places offering different products with similar mission statements. At StealingFaith.com, a blogger who ran across a similar “Define Necessity” image and felt a need to make her own comment on its visceral punch, put together a great list of charity-focused purveyors – I’ve checked the links and they’re all current – so be sure click over there, too, for a virtual “mall” of higher consciousness gift giving.
Higher consciousness gift giving…now that seems to be the real holiday spirit.