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6 Cool gifts that support even cooler causes

SheKnows Experts Program lead by day, nutrition student by night. Thoughtful gifter. Discerning decorator. Avid iPhone photographer. Passionate volunteer.

I've always considered myself a pretty charitable person. Growing up, my parents were always stressing the importance of helping others, and it's something that I've carried with me in to my adult life. I volunteer. I'll drop my loose change in Salvation Army buckets. I donate clothes and shoes. I take leftovers and leave them for a homeless man on my block. And recently, I've taken that same charitable approach to my gift giving by looking for gifts that will not only make the recipient happy but also support a cause. It's especially meaningful if you can align with a cause that's close to the recipient's heart.

As we head into the busy shopping season (Black Friday, I'm looking at you) here are some of my favorite gifts to give, and the awesome causes you're supporting when you give them.

The gift I love:

Soap! It's a great gift to bring to a host instead of flowers or alcohol. You know it will be useful and the pretty packaging will brighten up any bathroom.

The extra gift you give:

Check out Hand in Hand for soaps, soap dishes and lip balms. For every bar of soap purchased, they donate one bar of soap and one month of clean water to a child in the developing world. ($18 for 2 bars)

The gift I love:

Music lover, athlete, commuter or just easily distracted coworker, headphones are an awesome gift for just about anyone these days. And from earbuds to DJ-style ear covers, there's a style and price point to suite nearly every taste and budget.

The extra gift you give:

LSTN is taking headphone styling to a whole new level with their wood-grain earbuds and headphones. For every pair sold, LSTN helps restore hearing to a person in need through the Starkey Hearing Foundation.

The gift I love:

I like to look for limited editions and small batch designer collaborations when I'm giving. Something about the discovery and the exclusive availability make the gift feel even more special. My two recent favorites, ABLE MADE x S'WELL Thirsty for Change Water Bottle ($41) and ABLE MADE x THE GIVING KEYS Never Ending Able Bracelet ($48).

The extra gift you give:

Able Made is on a mission to create beautifully designed, exclusive products that fund social impact projects. The collaborations range from trendy young designers to popular retailers, all creating limited edition collections that support a variety of causes. Proceeds from the water bottle provide clean water for safe drinking and hygiene through WaterAid, and the bracelets support Chrysalis, an organization that helps transition people out of homelessness.

The gift I love:

It may be an obvious choice, but wine is a great go-to for hosts, colleagues, and friends during the holidays. At the beginning of the holiday season, I buy a bunch of pretty wine bottle gift bags so I can make the bottle feel like more of a gift.

The extra gift you give:

Why not make that bottle of red a little more meaningful. Homefront Red ($14) is an exclusive collection from Murphy-Goode. All sales support Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit that provides emergency and financial assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors.

The gift I love:

Sometimes you just have to give 'em what they want! I've found that with my teenage niece, asking her for a list of things she'd like for Christmas is much more successful than thinking I'm the cool aunt. She gives me her list and I pick an item and "surprise" her with it on Christmas. I'm much cooler when she opens something she asked for!

The extra gift you give:

Just because you're not exactly choosing the gift, doesn't mean you can't find ways to work in some giving back. If you do your holiday shopping online, you'll love Goodshop. You shop all of your favorite retailers, including Target, Sephora, Apple, Gap and thousands more and a percentage of your purchase gets automatically donated to your favorite charity for free! Oh, and, Goodshop aggregates all the best deals and discounts so you can shop, give and save! Triple win! So far this year I've purchased black leather Vans® for my niece and supported the Salvation Army in the process.($60)

The gift I love:

Candles, candles and more candles. My motto: If you can drink it, eat it or burn it, it's probably a good gift. I like to stick to lighter, fruitier scents that will work best for a range of tastes. Stay away from overly masculine and heavy floral smells.

The extra gift you give:

This luxurious gold-foiled mango and grapefruit candle ($22) has a light, pleasant scent and the gold foil is perfectly festive. And what I like most, it's from Raven + Lily whose mission is to empower women in all facets of their lives. All of their products, from jewelry to apparel to housewares are created by marginalized women around the world who in turn receive access to opportunities that give them a real chance to break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families.

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