Northside SF  

What You Can Do
Fab Five gifts that give back
By Lynette Majer

Let’s face it – no one really needs a holiday gift, so why not give one that benefits a cause? Here are my Fab Five picks, which may at least get you thinking of alternatives to the commercialized consumer Christmas. As a bonus, you can find them all here in the Northside.

The gift that grows: A tree in the City. Dedicate a tree to your fellow city citizens in the name of a friend or family member, and the Presidio’s/San Francisco’s Friends of the Urban Forest will plant it for you. FUF is responsible for the greening of our city to the tune (or is that leaf?) of 44,000 carbon-monoxide-eating, oxygen-producing trees. This is also an easy gift because FUF will send an e-mail on your behalf to notify your recipient that he or she has been green gifted. You can also download and print a card yourself, but that wouldn’t be very green now, would it? Friends of the Urban Forest, 415-561-6890,, $50

The gift that helps: Handmade baskets from Ghana. My cousin Deb gave me one of these baskets years ago, emotionally moved by the image of the groups of women weaving them to help alleviate poverty in their villages. It’s my favorite go-to basket from toting things back and forth to the garage, filling up with goodies from the farmers’ market, or as a catch all for a road trip. In vivid, bright colors, the body is soft and flexible, but strong and durable and connected by a leather-covered handle. Eurasian Interiors, 1861 Union Street (at Octavia), 415-775-1610,; $48

The gift that gives: TOMS.
Of course I’m familiar with this ubiquitous, versatile canvas  shoe in just about every color in the universe, but I guess I’ve had my head in the sand: It wasn’t until researching items for this column that I discovered its One for One program where the company donates one pair of shoes for every pair sold, and that the founder actually created the company solely to provide shoes for children in Argentina who had none. When I discovered further that since 2006, the company has provided over one million pairs to children in need, it brought tears to my eyes. Feet First, 2800 Leavenworth Street (at Jefferson), 415-885-3693; WalkAmerica, Pier 39, (Beach Street & The Embarcadero), 415-982-7071; $45–$50

The gift that feeds: KFOG’s Live from the Archives 17 CD. As a diehard Peetnik who carries a wallet-sized list of Peet’s locations, I knew I’d find a socially responsible gift at Alfred Peet’s eponymous store. Proceeds from the CD sales benefit all Bay Area food banks; CDs 1–16 have raised over $4 million to fight hunger in our communities. Very cool cover art is by Richmond artist Linda Ruiz-Lozito, and the CD features tracks by Train, Ziggy Marley, Brandi Carlile, Sarah McLachlan, John Butler Trio, The Dead, and more. Available at all Bay Area Peet’s Coffee & Tea stores; $17

The gift that heals: Tessa’s Cuvée.
When the Newsoms lost their mom, Tessa, to breast cancer several years back, PlumpJack created this limited edition wine in her honor. All proceeds from every bottle of this balanced fruity-oaky Chardonnay are donated to a cause avidly supported by Tessa, the Stanford Cancer Supportive Care Program. This innovative program bridges the gap between traditional medicine and holistic healing, and is provided free, regardless of economic status. Now you can feel twice as good having that second glass of wine. PlumpJack Wines, 3201 Fillmore Street (at Filbert), 415-346-9870,; $12


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September 2011 Issue


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