Five Christmas gifts that give back

Looking for gift ideas that won’t end up in the landfill? Consider any of the gifts from the list below.

Directions Youth Services

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Donation drop-off: Glacier Media, 303 West Fifth Ave.

For the past 14 years, Glacier Media office manager June Stafford has been collecting items for Directions Youth Services, which supports at-risk, homeless or street-involved youth. The organization, a division of Family Services of Greater Vancouver, provides education, recreation and artistic programs, as well as lockers and pet kennels. The centre also offers a space for youth to shower and clean up before a job interview, a family meeting — or for their own sake — which is why it’s in particular need of toiletries, including disposable razors, shampoo, tampons, soap and hair clippers. Other items on the centre’s wish list include gift cards, particularly for fast-food restaurants and coffee shops, transit passes and new items such as underwear, sneakers and boots, warm jackets, gloves, hats, socks, rain pants and jackets and any teen-appropriate clothing. Homeless youth are always in need of sleeping bags, backpacks, tarps, sheets, blankets and first aid items.


Good Earth Coffeehouse 

Coffee and gingerbread

2505 Alma St.

Just in time for the holidays, Good Earth is offering a new holiday blend coffee from Guji, Ethiopia. Traceable from tree to cup, this coffee is organically grown using sustainable farming methods that maintain the inherent nature of wild coffee and is Rainforest Alliance Certified. As well, Good Earth Coffeehouse is selling gingerbread families and for each package sold, $1 will be donated to a local food bank.



Helping in Kenya

JusTea is a for-profit business founded to benefit Kenyans struggling to find employment or earn a sustainable wage. This includes farmers — and the carvers who hand-carve the wooden spoons that come with every tin. The team at JusTea has so far created more than 200 jobs and made history by being the first tea company to work directly with small-scale Kenyan tea farmers, providing whole leaf teas directly to the end consumer from the farmer. The company also operates the JusTea Reads program, which gives rural school children access to books and education. Finally, JusTea has just launched a new chocolate purple tea through a partnership with East Van Roasters, which trains and employs at-risk women in the Downtown Eastside. This means their purple chocolate tea is helping women in the Downtown Eastside and Kenya at the same time.


Salvation Army

Treats for Toys

Rice Krispies is partnering with the Salvation Army for the annual Treats for Toys Program, a campaign dedicated to helping children and families in need. Canadians can create a toy-shaped Rice Krispies treat, snap a photo and submit it at or post on social media using the hashtag #TreatsForToys. For every photo posted, Rice Krispies will donate $20 to the Salvation Army to purchase toys for children in need.



Ask for donations instead of gifts

In lieu of gifts this year, ask your friends and family for donations and customize a “Champions for Animals” online fundraising page. Once set up, you can customize personal options, invite your friends to join your team, manage goals and monitor gifts so you’ll be sure to know who to send your seasonal reindeer cards.


Union Gospel Mission

Gifts of Hope

UGM’s Christmas Hamper Program alleviates some of the stresses of the holidays and gives neighbours in need the chance to provide their families some of the joys that have become a part of the Christmas season for so many others. Help stock UGM’s hamper store to support individuals and families this Christmas.



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