Looking to get more bang for your holiday gift-buying buck, and do a little good at the same time?
Plenty of social enterprises can help, offering their products, the sales of which help fund social services.
“Hopefully, they would think of social enterprises in making their buying decisions; especially this year,” said Marc Lane, who leads the Social Enterprise Alliance's Chicago chapter. “Philanthropy has been down, and government support can be counted on less than it once was.”
Here's a sampling of possibilities:
Give 'em the star treatment!
Among offerings at WomanCraft are the sparkly Stars paper (set of 10, $15) and the plantable Wildflower Seed Notes ($13 for the notes and envelopes set).
WomanCraft hires women in need as artisans to create handmade recycled stationery and customized invitations. It's part of Heartland Human Care Services, in the North Lawndale neighborhood.
Enlighten in style
Proceeds from the sales of Dreambean Candles support Bright Endeavors by New Moms Inc., a training, mentoring and placement program for the young women who make the soy and palm wax candles and nestle them in recycled glass containers.
Tealightful ($60) is a collection of aromatic candles, bath tea and exotic Fair Trade drinking tea.
Accessories are added to the mix via the Moda Esperanza initiative that has turned recycled pop tabs into purses, belts and bracelets, all the while assisting women and single mothers.
Check out the Tatiana Bracelet Collection, each piece handmade ($10) by women in Honduras.
Deal a meal
Cafe Too restaurant at 4715 N. Sheridan is a culinary and service training center operated by the Inspiration Corporation.
Gift cards are available at the store — where lunch and brunch average $8-$10 and the three- to five-course prix fixe dinners typically between $20 and $26 — and also can be used at the East Garfield Park restaurant/training center that is opening in the spring.
Sweet Beginnings, a subsidiary of the North Lawndale Employment Network, offers full-time transitional jobs for formerly incarcerated individuals and others with barriers to employment in the production and sales of all-natural skin care products featuring its own urban honey. Workers care for the bees and hives, harvest honey, make products, package and ship products, track inventory, fill product orders, and sell at retail outlets and special events.
The beeline spa collection with beeline honey ($57) includes body cream, honey and brown sugar body polisher and exfoliator, hand and foot butter balm, moisturizing lip balm, and of course, pure honey.
In the cards
There's still time to mail out Inspiration Corporation's holiday cards ($15 for a packet of 10).
Order by calling (773) 878-0981, ext. 221 or e-mailing: firstname.lastname@example.org. The cards also are available at Hazel, 1902 W. Montrose.
For an additional donation, the organization will add your message, hand-address, stamp and mail your cards for you.
Holiday baskets ($24-$49) with sweetbreads, brownies, cookies and/or biscotti are for sale at Sweet Miss Giving's Bakery and Gifting, a bakery and jobs program whose profits help the formerly homeless and HIV/AIDS-affected men, women and children of Chicago House. You can customize your own basket for as little as $10.
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