Call it the holiday shopper’s conundrum: How do you indulge in the season of giving but stay true to its meaning? How can we give with greater purpose, and how can we give while also giving back?
I, too, have felt the existential pangs that come with standing in line at Target, the legs of my cart bowing under a shipping container’s worth of well-intentioned but ultimately expendable offerings.
And I’ve told myself repeatedly that this is simply what the modern holiday era looks like. But it doesn’t have to.
For proof, look no further than the following gift guide for Pittsburghers who want to give good gifts that also do good things. These gift suggestions — and this is by no means a definitive list — include those that directly contribute to worthy causes and those that allow you to contribute to worthy causes in the course of your regularly scheduled seasonal shopping.
It’s the best of both worlds, a holiday and spiritual win-win-win or what Charles Dickens writing for BuzzFeed might call “a dope AF life hack to make your holidays actually merry and bright.”
Why: All store proceeds benefit the National Council of Jewish Women Pittsburgh.
What: Clothing, accessories and home furnishings
Where: 125 51st Street (Lawrenceville)
When: Monday – Friday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Why: The store operates with fair trade and fair wage practices for artists in developing countries in mind. Proceeds from the goods sold in the store go to support a living wage for the artists and artisans behind those products.
What: Home decor, jewelry, toys and musical instruments
Where: 5820 Forbes Ave. (Squirrel Hill)
When: Monday – Thursday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday: Noon to 4 p.m.
Why: This artisan boutique helps support the work of the Ujamma Collective, a nonprofit that supports black women entrepreneurs and the overall health and wellbeing of the Hill District community.
What: Jewelry, clothing and fabric, home decor and fine art
Where: 1901 Center Ave. (Hill District)
When: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Why: Proceeds benefit the Allegheny County Parks Foundation.
What: Wendell August Forge transformed original tiles from the Allegheny County Courthouse, removed as part of a restoration effort, and made them into calendars, beer flight carriers, candle holders, wine trays and wall hangings.
Why: Proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity.
What: Appliances, furniture, building materials and more
Where: 1913 Monongahela Ave. (Swissvale)
When: Tuesday – Friday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Why: Support the nonprofit City of Asylum as it provides sanctuary for exiled writers from other countries.
What: Books. Lots of books.
Where: 40 W. North Ave. (North Side)
When: Tuesday – Saturday: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Why: A portion of the proceeds from sales will go to support The Women & Girls Foundation.
What: “My Place in the World” is a book that comes at a pivotal moment in women’s history in America. The work of illustrator Liz Beatty and Aryanna Berringer, an Iraq war veteran who recently ran for lieutenant governor, the book follows the adventures of Atlee as “she marches in her yellow boots to the tallest mountains, deepest seas, and even the White House to discover her place in the world.”
Why: Charitable giving made super easy
What: A charitable gift card that allows recipients to direct funding to the charity or charities of their choice
Why: Own original artwork by local artist Jarrod Edson with 10 percent of the proceeds donated to The Children’s Institute and The Friendship Circle. Edson, a 19-year-old on the autism spectrum and a previous Who’s Next honoree, said he chose those groups because of the strong influence they had on his life.
What: Original and whimsical pencil-on-paper drawings which are then scanned, digitized and colorized.
Honorary/ Memorial Gifts
Why: Support programs for women and children in need, including a 24-Hour crisis hotline, emergency shelter and housing assistance, individual crisis counseling, legal and personal advocacy, support groups and a children’s program.
What: Donations and monetary gifts made to The Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh in honor or memory of loved ones.
Why: A portion of proceeds benefits Animal Friends.
What: Cartoonist Rob Rogers and radio personalities Jim Krenn and Larry Richert have helped produce four new cards that are available for the holidays, including a classic PennDOT jab: “Rudolph with yer nose so bright … won’t yinz help me close dahn the Liberty Tubes tonight?”
Where: Cards are available online or at Giant Eagle stores.
When: Online anytime. For in-person purchases, see the hours of your local Giant Eagle.
Why: It’s delicious — but also a portion of the proceeds from each bag is donated to an animal rescue cause.
What: Coffee, of course.
When: Online anytime.