This year, more than ever, people are looking to make a difference with their gifts. Floods, fires, mass shootings – it’s been a year filled with heartache for so many. The options chosen can help change a life while supporting companies and organizations that are doing good all around the world.

Support for Puerto Rico flood victims via T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods

Many of us need little or no prodding to head to T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods throughout the year, and holiday time is no different. But the news that these three stores are continuing to pay displaced workers of stores that remain closed as a result of the Puerto Rico floods means we may just be doing all of our shopping (holiday and otherwise!) here in support of these generous efforts. Hurricane Maria killed more than 50 people, and approximately 30 percent of Puerto Rico’s population is reportedly still without water and 25 percent without electricity.

Massachusetts-based corporation TJX is getting a lot of praise for supporting its employees in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

“The owner of TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods confirmed to WBZ-TV it is still paying workers at stores that remain closed because of hurricane damage,” said CBS Sacramento. “We believe it is the right thing for us to do under these circumstances,” a TJX spokeswoman said.

Donations to aid Sutherland Springs shooting victims

One of the knocks on charities set up to help after natural disasters or other tragedies is the unknown of how much actually reaches the people in need. Texas-based grocery store H-E-B is known for its generous charitable outreach, and its response to the Sutherland Springs shooting is no different. They have pledged to donate $150,000 in support of the victims of the First Baptist Church shooting and have also set up a donation site, with 100% of the donations going directly to those affected.

Sonoma County fire victim help

Public Good is a clearing house for charities to aid those impacted by the fire that killed more than 40 people and decimated whole neighborhoods in Sonoma County, CA. Donations are split between “recommended, IRS-verified nonprofits,” they said, including Community Foundation Sonoma County, Convoy Of Hope, Direct Relief, and Operation BBQ Relief.

South Asia flood help

South Asia has also experienced devastating floods recently, with more than 1,000 killed during the summer. There are several ways to make a difference for those affected, including donating to Goonj, which “aims to reach 75,000 families throughout rural India,” said InStyle, by giving families basic essentials for food and shelter, and, long-term, they plan on reviving community structures like roads and schools.”

Oxfam “is helping those affected by the floods to get clean drinking water, hygiene kits, shelter, and food supplies while also working alongside local partners to prevent future crises from emerging,” said InStyle. “With mass flooding of this scale, access to these essentials is even more crucial.”

Starling Candle

Elon Musk of Tesla made news with his pledge to return Puerto Rico to power with solar power and has already installed “Tesla’s Powerpack commercial energy storage batteries and solar panels, restoring power to Hospital del Niño, a children’s hospital in San Juan,” said Big Think.

So, get out there and buy Teslas for everyone in your circle! Or, purchase a few soy candles from The Starling Project, which “help provide solar energy to under-resourced countries across the globe, granting needy communities access to electricity, clean water, safety, health, education, and more,” said Woman’s Day.

Zebra Wood Fillmore Wireless Headphones

Not only are these headphones from LSTN, a speaker and headphone company, cool and useful, but the innovative company actually puts its profits toward providing hearing aids to those in need. “So far, it’s helped over 20,000 people hear in the U.S., Peru, Kenya, Uganda, China, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic,” said Woman’s Day.

Brooklyn Candle Studio Love Potion #9

This fragrant candle with notes of jasmine and lavender from Brooklyn Candle Studio was a favorite project before the horrific events of Charlottesville. In light of the tragedy, the company decided to direct a portion of its proceeds to the ACLU.

“As a graduate of UVA, the events in Charlottesville obviously hit very close to home, and I am absolutely appalled by them,” said Tamara Mayne, founder of Brooklyn Candle Studio and a 2006 graduate of UVA. “As a woman, a mother, an Asian-American, and as an employer of woman and minorities, and, frankly, as a human being, I feel that I have a duty to give back by helping those fighting for equality here in the United States. I would like this candle to serve as a reminder to choose love, not hate.”

Sudara Punjammies

Support women free from the Indian sex slave trade with your gift of colorful printed punjammies from, loose fit and 100-percent rayon pajama pants “made proudly in India by women working to forge a new path, free from sex slavery,” said Real Simple. The punjammies are “inspired by the beauty, colors and textures seen throughout the local culture and are crafted by brave women in the community who wish to remain free from the trade they escaped,” according to the website.

Conscious Step Sock Collection

Socks have grown in popularity and are no longer considered a throwaway gift. Make them even more impactful with socks from Conscious Step that are stylish, unisex, comfortable (soft organic cotton!), and created under fair trade conditions. “The money from each collection purchased goes to three causes,” said Real Simple. “The yellow and black pair donates the equivalent of two books to schoolchildren in Asia, the argyle pair provides 18 months of safe water for a person in need, and the red and black pair raises awareness around the issue of poverty.”


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