The holiday season always has been a time of giving both to those you love and those who may not have the means themselves.
Sometimes, both can be accomplished at once by selecting presents that benefit local charities and organizations with wish lists of their own.
A great source to find a worthy cause in the region is the Catalogue for Philanthropy (catalogueforphilanthropy-dc.org), which features outstanding work by local charities as well as ways to donate to each.
Or, if you’d rather shop at some of your favorite retailers, log on to igive.com and a portion of each sale will go to the charity of your choice. There are several local D.C. organizations on the list.
The following are other options to give back to the local community.
Though the temporary “East Hall” is up and running, many people forget that Eastern Market and the vendors there are still in need of money and support to help rebuild after the April fire.
Market-focused artwork from students of the School-Within-School at Peabody was on display recently for a few weeks at the Market 5 Gallery. Cards featuring some of the pieces are on sale at brightdoc.com/swas, and proceeds will help support the Capitol Hill Community Foundation Exhibitor Relief Fund.
Also, the T-shirt that defined the summer wardrobe on Capitol Hill is still available at rebuildeasternmarket.net for $20, $14 of which will go to the CHCF relief fund. You also can buy market gift certificates at easternmarket.net that can be redeemed at any of the 175 exhibitors that display their wares every Sunday at the flea market.
For more in the way of entertainment, the Catalyst Theater Company (catalyst theater.org) is holding a series of benefit performances for Eastern Market. Surprise your significant other (ahem, gentlemen) with tickets to the theater for the holidays and give back to the merchants at the same time. The next scheduled performances are Jan. 30-Feb. 2 of “Swimming in the Shallows” by Adam Bock and directed by Scott Fortier.
For the artistic types on your list, the National Museum of Women in the Arts offers a large selection of gifts and holiday merchandise, the sale of which helps keep the museum running. Also check out the museum’s Annual Holiday Gift Market (1250 New York Ave. NW; 202-783-5000; nmwa.org) featuring a variety of items from female artisans and designers. The market will take place on Dec. 4 and Dec. 5.
The Capitol Hill Arts Workshop and Capitol Hill Art League are offering another fun event called “Wrap It Up” on Dec. 8, where the art on the wall, priced to buy, can be purchased and wrapped up to go, said CHAW Development Director Michelle Cohen. You also can buy gift certificates for classes at CHAW to give to local loved ones — a fun and educational present. For more information, visit chaw.org.
Art Enables, a nonprofit arts program for adults with developmental and/or mental disabilities in the Washington, D.C., area, is selling dozens of unique and colorful holiday greeting cards and a wall calendar with several festive works of art. The group is having a holiday show with original pieces by 27 program artists from 3 to 6 p.m. Dec. 1 at The Gallery at Art Enables (411 New York Ave. NE; art-enables.org; 202-554-9455). Attendees will be able to purchase presents and framed and unframed art, with 60 percent of revenue going to the artists as earned income.
A different kind of shopping event benefiting the arts will take place along the U Street corridor from 6 to 10 p.m. Dec. 6. Shoppers can browse many of the stores along the street and 10 percent of all sales from participating venues will be donated to The Patricia M. Sitar Center for the Arts. Each store will offer special holiday sales during the event. For more information, visit sitarartscenter.org.
On a slightly different note, you can buy paintings that participants in the community youth organization Kid Power-DC (kidpowerdc.org) just brought back from a trip to the Dominican Republic. Most of the art is around $50, with proceeds going back to help Dominican children. Or help Kid Power-DC team with CakeLove bakery to form a middle school student-led baking company, the proceeds of which will go back to the organization.
There are countless nonprofits in D.C. working with children, specifically on literacy and education. Help spread the word —literally — with a gift from one of these groups.
Bright Beginnings, an education center for the children of homeless families, is having a holiday ornament sale featuring glass-ball ornaments ($15) hand-painted in vibrant colors by the center’s 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds. Made with loads of imagination, these are a sure way to liven up your family’s tree. To purchase, visit brightbeginningsinc.org or call 202-842-9090.
The D.C. Public Libraries bookstore, Books Plus, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library (901 G St. NW; dclibrary.org; 202-727-6834) sells a variety of books, gifts and greeting cards, and all the money goes toward books and new materials. For the holiday season, the store is one of the only locations in Washington carrying the hard-to-get holiday cards with reproductions of Christmas books from the Bodleian Library at Oxford, England. Books Plus will have its 5th annual holiday sale Dec. 4-21, with 20 percent off all merchandise.
Proper Topper also is offering a couple of ways to help The D.C. Public Library Foundation. The store recently teamed with Gypsy Eyes Records, ESL Music and The Federal Reserve Collective to produce a CD to benefit the library system. Spurred by the Georgetown Library fire this spring, “A Benefit for DC Public Libraries” features local bands and sells for $10 at Proper Topper (3213 P St. NW and 1350 Connecticut Ave. NW; propertopper.com). All proceeds from the CD go to the DCPL Foundation. There also are T-shirts for sale ($14-$24) at the store, with proceeds going directly to the Georgetown Library Recovery and Restoration Fund, which will help rebuild the classic Georgian building.
Another way to help the DCPL Foundation is to buy an item for the libraries at dcplfoundation.org/wishlist.cfm and dedicate it to your loved one. For example, you can buy a children’s early literacy station complete with computers and printers for $2,400.
Another shopping-related fundraiser is sponsored by The Junior League of Washington and offers a wide array of merchandise, sales of which benefit literacy programs in the community. The 49th annual A Capital Collection of Holiday Shops runs from Friday to Sunday and raises money for literacy in the greater Washington community.
You may have heard of the Washington Literacy Council because the group has been a beneficiary of proceeds from the annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game for more than a decade. Now you can support the organization by going to one of its wrapping stations at local bookstores between now and Christmas, where your presents will be bundled by volunteers in return for donations. To find out more about dates and locations, visit washingtonliteracycouncil.org or call 202-387-9029.
Staving Hunger, Homelessness
All of the local food banks seem to be doing some special holiday program. DC Central Kitchen (dccentralkitchen.org) is offering the option to donate a “virtual turkey” in someone’s name. Seventy-five dollars buys 30 meals — and every dollar you donate will be matched by XM Satellite Radio. Or, if you want to go for the granddaddy of all gifts, buy a car from Easterns Automotive Group through the end of the year and the dealership will donate a turkey to the kitchen.
At Bread for the City (breadforthecity.org), $26 can provide a full holiday meal to a family in poverty through the Holiday Helpings program. You also can make the organization’s holiday wishes come true by donating an item from its wish list of office supplies to help keep its dual facilities running.
Other food banks are accepting donations in all forms as well. They include So Others Might Eat (some.org), which also is having a shoebox gift drive, and the Capital Area Food Bank (capitalareafoodbank.org), which is having its second annual Bringing in the Birds with Bucks, in which you can sponsor dinners for needy senior citizens.
And Some Others
If you haven’t been inspired yet, there are plenty more opportunities. As final food for thought: People Animals Love (peopleanimalslove.org) is hosting a Holiday Dog Photo Fundraiser at Happy Paws (4904 Wisconsin Ave. NW; happypawsdc.net; 202-363-7297) from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday. Get your whole family in the portrait this year, and then get the image on greeting cards, ornaments, mugs and more. The $30 sitting fee, half of which goes to PAL, covers a 5-by-7 photo and refreshments at the event.
If you can’t make it to the event, or don’t have a dog, you can still support the cause by buying Land’s End clothing and accessories with the embroidered PAL logo.
One last item from dollar menu that’s good for the community and good for your daily caloric intake: At participating McDonald’s restaurants throughout the region, order a $1 donation to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington, D.C. (rmhc.greaterdc.org).