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Wisconsin Parent

Companies With Philanthropy: Gifts that Give Back

Oct 29, 2014 02:00PM ● By Dannelle Gay
With the holiday season rapidly upon us, you will be amazed at how many phone calls you get from wonderful and deserving charities asking you to donate money—but what they don't realize is that the holidays are only about five paychecks away and many people are simply trying to find the perfect gift for their loved ones.

I remember the year my grandmother gave me half an ox for Christmas. Okay, not literally, but she bought it in my name to be donated to a country somewhere overseas. Granted, the ox was intended help a small village, but I wasn't really able to understand or relate to that as a child. Only if she would have found a gift to give me from a company that gave back to a local or global charity.

Lucky for us Wisconsin Parents, we have many philanthropic companies to choose from. Here are my favorite fourteen:

American Girl. American Girl has done such an amazing job with children's charities that it is hard to pick where to start. Their national signature partners Kids in Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.), Children’s Hospital Association, and Save the Children, are all impressive. American Girl also provides grants to nonprofit organizations providing arts, environmental and cultural programming to children ages 0 to 12. Locally, the annual American Girl Benefit Sale supports the Madison Children's Museum. I could go on about this company and how much they give back, but you can read more for yourself here. Their BeForever line of historical dolls now has a new look, and on our TV segments you will see the new Samantha Doll! This line sports new Journey Books, new contemporary fashions and is sure to delight your little collector.


BeginAgain. This company makes so many wonderful things it's hard to pick, as they all can do something different for a different cause! My favorite? I totally love their balance boat game! This product features endangered animals and is made from sustainably-harvested wood with child safe finishes. The fifteen animal characters are all endangered animals that help teach children a little bit of cultural awareness and portions of the proceeds from this toy are donated to the World Wildlife Fund.


BixbeeBags. These are delightful and whimsical bags and backpacks for children. When you purchase a bag for your child, another yellow backpack full of school supplies that is donated to underprivileged children. That is what Bixbee calls their "One Here. One There" program. If you wish to check these whimsical gems out our readers are entitled to a 15% discount, just use the code: BIXBEEPARENT (ALL CAPS. Enter code at check out. Code expires Dec 15).


Buddy Balls. Buddy Balls is a Wisconsin company founded by a family trying to teach their children great lessons on giving back. Actually created by a 6-year-old child, this fun and super soft collection can be used as a ball, emotional buddy, hidden treasure storage, and more. Profits from the sale of their teddy bears support children and child life specialists in hospitals. The bears come in four fuzzy and lovable characters that can be used to unzip and store things in, or convert into a ball.


Bumbo. These very fun children sitting and play systems benefit the Bumbo Cares foundation. Over 10 million worth of aid has gone to children in Africa since 2007. Bumbo just became my new number one favorite baby shower gift to give.


Christmas Milk. There is a sweet story behind this egg nog company that leads to the reason they donate to state care facilities that help children find their forever family homes. Call me a total sucker for this, but we adopted Miss Sarah and I KNOW how much a couple has to do and save to be able to have a family—anything that helps is wonderful! We tried Christmas Milk, and it was probably the yummiest eggnog we have ever had.


Cloud B. Super Max the Turtle is the total winner here! Cloud B has teamed up with the MaxLove Project to create this gem, which was inspired by a sweet 7-year-old boy (Max Wilford) who has been fighting brain cancer for three years. (He's super sweet! I got to meet the family in Las Vegas two months ago.) Super Max has Max's smile, is smaller, and all plastic—making him the perfect toy to take to hospitals and child care centers. He also has a 45 minute auto shut off timer. Sales from this turtle help the MaxLove Project empower families fighting childhood cancers and other life threatening conditions.


Genesis Bows. Just in case you haven't been following things like The Hunger Games movies, the television series about the Green Arrow (called Arrow), archery is hot. We love toys that help to promote physical fitness and Genesis Bows promotes an interdenominational outreach ministry called Center Shot that uses the life skill of archery as a tool to assist local churches to reach their family community.  Interdenominational is the key here; ANY church can learn to add this creative concept as a way to reach out to their flock. Ya'll know I'm very active in my church, but respect your own right to serve as you see fit. The Mini Genesis was easy enough for a troop of 8 to 9-year-old age Girl Scouts to try.

hp stream

Hewlett Packard. Here is a company that was serious about getting the current technology into our children's classrooms with their technology for teachers grant program. The HP Foundation has been blessing others since 1940 and is now very active in the KIVA micro lending program for small business owners as well as supporting disaster relief around the world. Their NEW line of Stream and Chromebook items are very easy on the family pocket book too, with prices ranging from $199 to $299. HP Stream Family: Starting at $199

HP 14-inch Chromebook: Starting at $299


Hershey's. Did you know that every single time you spend money with the Hershey's brand, whether it is at the resort or their candy line, the profits go to the M. S. Hershey Foundation? The foundation is used to support schools with 1900-2000 students. Besides that educational enrichment, there is the cultural aspect—the M.S. Hershey Foundation operates The Hershey Story, Hershey Gardens, Hershey Theatre, and Hershey Community Archives. Just think of all those Hershey bars used in fall s'mores, or even as Christmas stocking stuffers! Each one of those directly helps a child get an education. I LOVE that!


Pediped. Not only are these folks interested in providing cute, comfortable, and healthy footwear for our little people Pediped give 10% of your purchase back to whichever school you choose. Yes, they do have their own rewards program (and more) but 10% is a nice chunk of change for any school. On top of that, Pediped has donated over 2.8 million to children's causes like Operation Homefront, Children's Heart Foundation, and the Operation Showers of Appreciation (an organization that helps to provide infant gifts for our active military). You can see what cool things the Pediped Foundation is doing here. I personally love their quality, accurate sizing, and dedication to growing little feet.


Soap-sox. These whimsical antimicrobial bath toys are designed to make getting clean fun! The toys "swallow" the soap and help suds up the kiddos. Soap-sox is driven by a mission to help support children that are dealing with childhood trauma (mental and/or physical abuse). In fact, the product was developed by a man who was in charge of a center that took care of these special souls. You can get your own here.


Sobieski Vodka. If you were looking for a little holiday spirit to take as a host gift, this would be the brand I'd choose. Not only is it VERY affordable (about $12 a bottle) Sobeiski supports the Fisher House project. If you are not familiar with it, think Fischer House as a Ronald McDonald House where families can come stay when they have a loved one in the hospital. But, in the case of the Fisher House, the people that are being visited or injured soldiers. A Fisher House is currently being built in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Both soldiers and their families they give so much up for us it's a simple little thing we can do for them.

spin master

Spin Master Toys. Spin Master has a lot of new toys this holiday season including Zoomer Dino, Digi Birds, Sew Cool, and Chatsters. This company is active with the Stars 4 Smiles organization that helps children in hospitals who are suffering serious illness or other medical trauma. I think there is no greater fear of a parent than to have their baby so sick that they aren't able to be at home.

I hope this list helps to open your eyes to what you are buying and where your money is might be doing to help others. There are a LOT of companies that are really starting to make a difference in our world! I love finding the perfect gift for someone, even more so when I know that the dollars I pay have a long lasting reach.

Yes, I am a sucker for children's charities and anything that supports our soldiers. I hope you are too.



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Dannelle received several products for the purposes of this review. All opinions are her own.