Greyston’s very fine brownies are nut-free. there’s also a vegan chocolate brownie version (all photos courtesy Greyston).
 Greyston’s are the brownies in Ben & Jerry’s Double Fudge Brownie ice cream.
As you contemplate gift-giving this holiday season, how about gifts that give back?
For people who have everything, we have long advocated gifts with a social impact.
These are gifts that support organizations like Feeding America, which provides meals to hungry people in our own country; and Heifer International, which provides livestock to third-world families so that they have food as well as eggs, milk, wool, etc. to sell and generate income.
Heifer International has a catalog (and website) that showcases the different animals that can be donated, and how they help the families who receive them. Our friends and family enjoy choosing a different animal every year; or fund education for a girl to go to school, or a woman to start up her own small business.
Some people prefer a donation to help others. Some people want a gift for themselves.
An easy compromise: products that give a portion of their revenue to help others, and products made by companies that give both job training and permanent jobs to chronically jobless Americans: released felons, former addicts, teen mother dropouts, and others who need a leg up.
Last week we presented the Women’s Bean Project, which trained women to be exemplary workers for other employers.
Today, we have two more companies worth your time.
There are numerous endeavors across the U.S. that have the same mission: to turn Americans who are not wanted by employers into those who are. If you want to support a local cause, or a help particular type of people, simply look online or ask in your community. There are always local food banks and job training programs.
“We don’t hire people to bake” says Greyston Bakery. “We bake brownies to hire people.”
For 25 years, Greyston has been a pioneering social enterprise based on Open Hiring: providing jobs to individuals who face barriers to employment.
The bakery is staffed entirely by people offered a job opportunity through Open Hiring. Trained at the facility, they operate a world-class food processing facility.
Greyston’s was chosen over all “contestants” to supply 35,000 pounds of brownies daily for Ben & Jerry’s Double Fudge Brownie flavor! Their award-winning brownies and cookies can be purchased online and at Whole Foods Markets.
We add our own endorsement, to the:
As a blondie lover, the blondies are currently our “favorite blondie.” Thank goodness it’s a long walk to our nearest Whole Foods.
The brownies are packed in a reusable covered wicker basket. Corporate and event gifts can be customized.
2. BRIGHT ENDEAVORS SOY CANDLES
Light a candle, transform a life says Bright Endeavors. The Chicago not-for-profit’s mission is to train teen moms in job skills.
So many young, single moms lack access to quality education or job opportunities. Battling homelessness and poverty, their barriers to opportunity can be limited.
Bright Endeavors transforms their lives through a paid job training program, teaching them to craft premium soy candles. Lovely, fragrant candles are what they make, but the job skills they learn are universal.
Through guidance and job skills, the young moms learn what they need to secure and maintain quality employment, to begin working toward professional success.
The candles are made in four sizes, from $7.99 to $24.99. The two smaller sizes make great stocking stuffers.
There are 12 fragrances, including four holiday-specific ones:
four seasonal scents plus eight popular year-round options. For the holidays:
 Signature Glass is the largest size, with 40 hours of burn time. Shown in the photo: Whitebark Pine. All 12 fragrances are available in all four sizes (both photos courtesy Bright Endeavors).
 The smallest candle size, Mini Signature, burns for 12 hours. Shown here: Pumpkin Chai.
One hundred percent of the proceeds support the young moms who create the candles.