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Gifts that give back: How you can help charities in 2020

This year, consider buying presents that help support charitable causes -- like a customized Hidden Valley Ranch-O-Gram!

Like you, I try to support worthy causes whenever I can. For starters, there are plenty of ways to give to charity without even trying. But there's something else we can do to help out: strategic holiday shopping. Certain products come with charitable donations built right in, meaning you're not only giving someone a nice gift, but also helping those in need.

Below I've rounded up some examples of gifts that give back, though a good place to start is with Amazon's Product Red page -- home to dozens of items that support the Global Fund charity. (I've spotlighted a couple of them in the list that follows.) If you've found others you'd like to recommend, shout them out in the comments.

More on charitable giving

Hidden Valley

Words can't adequately express how much I love this. It's a bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing with a custom label (example: "Happy holidays, Uncle Leo!"), all nicely wrapped inside a gift box. Better still, Hidden Valley donates your entire $15 purchase price (not including a $7 shipping charge) to Feeding America -- and that's good for at least 150 meals.

To find this, visit the Hidden Valley Ranch Shop and click Personalized Ranch-O-Gram. Note that today, Dec. 11, is the last day you can order for guaranteed delivery in time for Christmas.


Phone-case maker Casely has an ongoing program called Every Case Counts, which supports a different nonprofit each month. Ending Dec. 1, there's a 50%-off sitewide sale. Cases start at just $5.

Between now and Dec. 24, the company -- whose brands include Harry & David, The Popcorn Factory and Shari's Berries -- will donate to No Kid Hungry 20% of the net proceeds from each gift purchased from its "Season of Sharing" holiday gift collection. For every dollar No Kid Hungry receives, it can provide up to 10 meals to children in need.


The UNICEF Market, an online collection of handcrafted items made by artisans from around the world, offers a wide range of gifts in a variety of categories. Every purchase helps to support the charity, which provides aid to children worldwide. 


For years, Apple has offered Product Red versions of iPhones and various other products. Whenever you buy one, "eligible proceeds" go toward lifesaving HIV/AIDS programs in sub-Saharan Africa. Between now and Dec. 31, however, those proceeds will go to Product Red's COVID-19 response. Apple doesn't say how much of each purchase goes to the charity.

Right now, there are Product Red versions of all current iPhone models, including the iPhone 12, iPhone 11, iPhone XR and iPhone SE. You can also choose that charity-supporting color for select iPhone and iPad cases, Apple Watch bands and Beats headphones.


Homelessness was already at crisis levels in many parts of the US and elsewhere in the world, and the pandemic has only exacerbated the issue. Bombas supports the homeless community by donating socks to shelters -- one pair for every pair you buy. There are colorful multipacks and gift boxes available, and socks are pretty much the perfect gift. (Hint: Everyone has feet.)

Bridgewater Candle Company

Know someone who loves candles? Give him or her a Bridgewater Candle, because each one provides three meals to a child in need. Sold in small and large jars, they're available individually or as part of a bundle.

Stephen Beacham/CNET

A LifeStraw is widely regarded as essential gear for hikers, campers, backpackers, even disaster-preppers. That's because it's literally a straw that strains harmful bacteria and parasites out of water as you sip it. Meanwhile, the company donates its Community Filters to schoolchildren around the world; the promise is that for every LifeStraw you buy, a child gets safe drinking water for an entire year.

Now playing: Watch this: The LifeStraw is close to eradicating an ancient disease

Like Apple, Therabody (maker of the popular Theragun massagers) has partnered with Product Red to help support COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS relief in Africa. Therabody says 2% of the purchase price goes to the charity. You can choose models from the Pro, Elite and Mini lineups, all promising percussive relief for sore muscles. (Trust me, that's an incredible gift.)


Though founded on the idea of donating a pair of shoes for every pair purchased (much like Bombas), Toms has shifted to a model of giving away one third of net profits -- the better to allow it to support a wider range of causes. The company is currently donating to charities including Magic Bus, The Mix, Think Outside Da Block and its own COVID-19 Global Giving Fund.

Toms sells a wide range of footwear; everything from boots and sandals to slippers and dress shoes.

Read more: 7 free and easy ways to give to charity

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