Happy Holidays!  I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season and getting excited for 2015!  I am a big fan of this time of year– the gatherings, the food, the houses decked out in lights, the gift giving– the only thing I might be missing is snow since I am in California! My favorites are definitely the food and giving. And it’s actually the perfect opportunity to combine those two things!

I love the idea of gifts that give back and I think everyone can find something they are passionate about– whether it be food, fashion, the environment, animals, or whatever it may be– and incorporate and support that cause while getting holiday- or any type of present- shopping done.

If you enjoy food and eating as much as I do, consider giving back to causes that help provide meals to those in need locally and globally before the year ends! Here is a list of some great organizations that you can support or make a donation to in honor of a loved one and help spread the love this holiday season!

Feeding America
Mission: To feed America’s hungry though a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger. A $1 donation = 10 meals.

A little can go a long way and not break your bank!  I have supported Feeding America through my paper goods line and they are a great organization.  I love that when you make your donation, you get a confirmation that includes exactly how many meals you have helped to raise!  They are rated 4/4 stars on Charity Navigator and 98.5% of their expenses goes towards the programs.  There are many ways to help including making a one time donation online, giving a donation in honor of someone (an e-card will be sent to them), giving monthly, or heading up a virtual food drive!

Mission: To supply children with at least one vitamin and mineral enriched meal each day with partnering organizations without large administration structures so donations can go directly towards the programs.  Every $0.05 donated = 1 meal– yes, just 15 cents can feed a child breakfast, lunch, and dinner!  A few dollars can go a very long way!

Food4Africa is very close to my heart– I have seen first hand what they do and have been supporting their life saving work since 2007 when I met them in South Africa on a TOMS Shoe Drop!  Food4Africa has created an easy to prepare porridge mixture that contains 19 vitamins and minerals that they distribute to children needing nutritious food throughout South Africa with the help of volunteers.  They also provide food for schools and nurseries as well.  Each Valentine’s Day I do a fundraiser to raise meals for one of their schools, The Ebongalethu Educare Center– join us this February!

I also wanted to mention that all donations from individuals such as you and I go directly to the programs!

Westside Food Bank

Mission: To distribute as much food as possible to local agencies with food assistance programs and to reduce food waste on the Westside of Los Angeles County.  As the food bank warehouse for the Westside since 1981, WFB annually distribute 4.5 million pounds of food to over 70 local social service agencies. 

For those of you who live near Santa Monica, you can donate various items to help out Westside Food Bank including non-perishable canned / packaged food items, extra fruit from the trees in your backyard (which I think is very cool, I haven’t come across a place that accepted this and helps to make sure all that fruit on your trees doesn’t go to waste!), as well as socks, blankets, diapers, and travel sized toiletries (shampoos, toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, face wash, etc.) You can also make a tax deductible donation on their website.

World Food Programme

Mission: To pursue a vision of the world in which every man, woman and child has access at all times to the food needed for an active and healthy life. They work towards that vision with sister UN agencies in Rome — the Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Fund for Agricultural Development — as well as other government, UN and NGO partners.  They are rated 3/4 stars on Charity Navigator and 90.8% of their expenses goes towards the programs.

I was listening to NPR a few weeks ago when they started talking about how The United Nations World Food Programme has run out of money it needs to provide food vouchers for the almost 2 million people who have fled Syria due to the civil war.  The program cannot continue running without sufficient funding.

“The living conditions are already very harsh and difficult for the refugees. And on top of this now – to stop the food assistance – this is really a tragedy for the World Food Programme and for the Syrian refugees alike,” says Muhannad Hadi, the World Food Programme’s emergency coordinator for Syria.

The need for donations is dire- if you are able to, help these refugees with one of the basic necessities they need to have to survive- they have already been through and lost so much.

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