Meaningful Holiday Giving: Veteran-Owned Shops Deliver the Goods
March to the beat of a new drummer boy this holiday season and give a gift that not only delights the most difficult-to-buy-for person on your shopping list, but also helps our troops and their families.
With these gift ideas — a select list of quality products created by veterans and military spouses — you can put a unique present under the tree and prove that it’s more than the thought that counts when it comes to giving and giving back.
For the Coffee Lover
Lock-N-Load Java makes and sells top-grade, premium coffee, regular or decaf, with labels like “Charlie Don’t Surf” and “Task Force Zulu,” along with flavored coffees and sample packs. Founded by a veteran and his spouse, Lock-N-Load also offers gift certificates and a way for you to send “coffee for troops” directly to the front lines.
For the Professional
R.Riveter got its start with two women, a sewing machine and a dream, and has grown into a network of military spouses all across the country hand-crafting bags and purses for every need. With names like Doyle, Grant and Hobby — military spouses in history — the bags come in durable leather and canvas, and funds from every purchase also go to help organizations like the USO and other veteran groups.
For the Beachcomber
Combat Flip Flops are more than just sandals. It turns out, “making cool stuff in dangerous places,” means that, for every pair of flip flops sold, they can send an Afghan girl to school for a day, provide jobs in war-torn countries and help save American lives. The company also makes a sandal for amputees, shemaghs, sarongs, bags and bangles.
For the Fashionista
Sword & Plough turns “swords into ploughshares” by recycling military surplus into rugged tote bags, designer handbags, sturdy backpacks, contemporary jewelry and more. The team of veterans and family also commits to working only with manufacturers who employ veterans and giving back to veteran organizations. It gets better: They offer a discount to service members and their families.
For the Children
Kastle Books do more than instill a love of reading. They help children understand and cope with a parent who suffers symptoms of PTSD or living life as a foster child. The author of “Why is Dad/Mom So Mad?” is a disabled veteran and parent who also shares the proceeds of his book sales to help small and veteran-owned businesses where he lives and works.
For the Frequent Traveler
The Travel Halo is a veteran’s answer to sore necks and sleepless flights while traveling – a model he invented that works better than the common c-shaped neck pillow. Packable and breathable, it cradles the head, has a built-in eye mask and comes in three colors. Military discounts are available, too.
For the Wine Lover
Honor Winery toasts those who sacrifice all by distributing premium wines with labels like “Highest Honor” and “Service.” You can also customize labels as well as a way to celebrate and honor another. Honor Winery founders are veterans, veteran family members and a Gold Star mother. They partner with a number of organizations that support the military.
For Everyone Else
Etsy Military Wives Team is the place to go if you’re still shopping for that unique gift. Support your fellow military spouses by starting at their Etsy team page. From baked goods and handmade jewelry to custom needlework and home décor, Etsy makes it easy to find a one-of-a-kind present.
Shari Biediger is a freelance writer in San Antonio, Texas, spouse to a physician in the Air National Guard and mother to three young adults.