21 unexpected ways to give back and do good on Black Friday.
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Old Navy Cozy Socks

Thanksgiving is around the corner and you know what that means ... Black Friday and all its beautiful madness is almost upon us.

Photo by Powhusku/Flickr.

Sure, it's crowded and intense, but those glorious sales make it worth it, right? Maybe you'll find that game system your kids have been begging for marked down 50% or a pair of earrings you could never justify buying for yourself until the price hit the floor. Regardless of why someone chooses to spend their post-Turkey Day weaving through hoards of sale-hungry folks, there's always a big payoff.


Of course, all that retail therapy can sometimes make you feel a wee bit selfish too. After all, even though you're taking advantage of massive sales, there are many people who don't have that luxury.

With that in mind, we challenge you to take some of that shopping energy you've stored up for Black Friday and give it back. There are plenty of little ways you can be generous to others while still being good to yourself and your loved ones.

Photo via iStock.

Together, with a little bit of ingenuity, we can make Black Friday a day of giving as well as a day of getting.

Here are 21 ways you can be generous on Nov. 24.

1. First things first: out with the old and in with the new.

Photo via iStock.

Since you're already planning on bringing home new stuff, why not go through your old clothes, shoes, and appliances first and see if there's anything you can give away?

If you're not sure what's accepted or where to bring your stuff, RecycleNow can help.

2. Heading out super early in the morning to Black Friday sales? Bring donuts and coffee.

Photo by Powhusku/Flickr.

You don't have to bring enough for everyone, but the people shivering near you in line will become your best friends.

3. On your way to the sales, why not pick up some fellow shoppers and save the environment while you save money?

Put the word out that you're going shopping on Black Friday and can offer rides to anyone else who wants to come. You'll be doing right by the planet and making shopping buddies.

4. Once you're in the stores, you can shop and give back at the same time.

While you're out braving the malls and stores, pick up some basic undershirts, socks, underwear, etc., and donate them to your local clothing bank. Often, people throw away their undergarments because they assume no one will want them used.

5. And hold the door for people while you're at it.

They may not always say "thank you," but trust me, if they're carrying a ton of bags, they'll appreciate it.

6. Be sure to pick up some cozy socks for a good cause too.

Cozy socks! Photo via Old Navy.

This is not a drill: Old Navy will be selling these super cozy socks for $1 a pair on Black Friday, and all the profits up to $1 million will go directly to Boys & Girls Clubs.

7. Do even more for Boys & Girls Clubs of America while you're at it.

For over 157 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America has been helping kids achieve their dreams and reach their full potential. You can donate to their cause here and volunteer at your local BGCA here.

8. Maybe also buy a gift for a friend who's been having a tough time.

Little gestures like that mean the world, especially when they're unexpected. Plus it'll give them the opportunity to talk to someone who cares.

9. And on your way home from the sales, why not swing by a homeless shelter?

Image via iStock.

With your Black Friday haul in tow, you could likely find a shelter on your route that would be eager for some help on the holiday weekend. Maybe bring them some of your Thanksgiving leftovers? Here's a handy directory to find a homeless shelter near you.

10. Or visit with a lonely senior citizen.

After all, many doorbusters are over late night Thursday/early morning Friday, so you could have the whole day to visit a nursing home or assisted living center. You have no idea what a difference a warm face and pleasant conversation can make.

11. If you're not squeamish, giving blood is always a good move too.

Photo via iStock.

I know giving blood can make some people queasy, but since you probably ate a lot the day before, there's very little chance you'll pass out from it. And, more importantly, your donation might save a life.

You can donate blood to most hospitals, but they will likely require a mini-physical first to check your vitals. Find our more here.

12. Or, if you hate needles, go play with puppies and kittens at a shelter.

Photo via iStock.

Not only will volunteering at a local animal shelter improve the lives of pets waiting for a forever home, you'll probably have a blast doing it. And who knows, you may end up falling in love with one of the critters and taking them home with you. That's certainly one fantastic way to brighten your holiday weekend.

13. You can also help incarcerated families give gifts to their loved ones.

Angel Tree allows you to give donations to incarcerated people so they can buy their families gifts for the holiday season.

14. Or you can sponsor a family in need online.

Considering you just enjoyed a gorgeous Thanksgiving meal with your family, it seems only fitting to give back by helping another family receive the same.  Family-to-family allows you to sponsor a family in need by paying for a monthly box of groceries to be sent to their house.

15. You can also start a donation page on Facebook.

Yes, you can make a much bigger contribution to your charity of choice than you realize. Here's where to start.

16. And send assistance to hurricane/natural disaster victims.

The aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Dominica. Photo by Roosevelt Skerrit/Flickr.

In terms of catastrophic weather and natural disasters, this year has been particularly unforgiving. There are so many families still struggling to rebuild after Hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and Maria and the wildfires in California, so anything you're able to give will no doubt be much appreciated.

17. Rather be active? Start a game of capture the flag or touch football in your neighborhood.

You can knock on doors or send an email to see if nearby kids (or adults) could use some fun, aerobic activity.  

18. Less sports and more craft-inclined? Try making a little free library.

All you need is a small cupboard that will fit several books and something to sit it on, and you've got a mini public library. Create a little sign that says something like, "take a book, but please return or replace it with one of your own."

19. Speaking of books, you can volunteer at your local library too.

Photo via iStock.

If your library is open on Black Friday, you can offer your reading skills to kids' reading hours or, if you'd rather not perform, just help organize the stacks.

20. Spend the day writing thank-you notes to all your favorite local merchants.

It's such a nice, personal way to show local business owners that their presence in the neighborhood matters to you and your family.

21. And last, but definitely not least, you can fulfill the holiday wish of a child in need.

Through donations, school drives, and crowdfunding, the incredible organization Family Giving Tree acts as Santa Claus for children in disadvantaged communities. The goal is not only to make their lives better but to inspire philanthropy and kindness in people all over the world.

You can learn more about starting your own drive for this wonderful cause here.

Whether you shop, watch sports, hang with your family, or just chill at home in your new cozy socks, there are so many ways to give back on Black Friday.

All it takes is a generous spirit and a little out-of-the-box thinking to make the day about so much more than unbelievable deals.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Of the millions of Americans breathing a sigh of relief with the ushering in of a new president, one man has a particularly personal and professional reason to exhale.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has spent a good portion of his long, respected career preparing for a pandemic, and unfortunately, the worst one in 100 years hit under the worst possible administration. As part of Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Fauci did what he could to advise the president and share information with the public, but it's been clear for months that the job was made infinitely more difficult than it should have been by anti-science forces within the administration.

To his credit, Dr. Fauci remained politically neutral through it all this past year, totally in keeping with his consistently non-partisan, apolitical approach to his job. Even when the president badmouthed him, blocked him from testifying before the House, and kept him away from press briefings, Fauci took the high road, always keeping his commentary focused on the virus and refusing to step into the political fray.

But that doesn't mean working under those conditions wasn't occasionally insulting, frequently embarrassing, and endlessly frustrating.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.