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We’ve talked a lot about how we like to give back to our community. It’s a huge part of Zao, as it is crucially connected to one of our core values: family.

Family is more than just your blood relatives. Family is more than what you’re given; it’s who you choose. We say “family,” but family, at the end of the day, is a group of people who are connected by values, goals, and proximity. It’s a community. We wanted to figure out how we could integrate our values into our holiday giving this year. Here’s a little look at how we decided on what to do, and what we ended up picking:

We know many companies decide to approach their holiday charity through fundraising, and we thought about doing the same.

We went through our options regarding how we could give back this holiday season, and boiled it down to the important markers we wanted to hit:

  • Have a big impact, even if that impact is on a small scale
  • Contribute to our local community
  • It’s about what we’re doing, rather than about self-promotion
  • Something we can do without rallying or relying on external forces to make it happen
  • Make it fun!

After bouncing around a few options and talking it out, we landed on adopting not one, but two Portland area families for Christmas through Christmas Family Adoption. Christmas Family Adoption is a non-profit started in 2002 by Mike Burright. Their mission is “to create a positive and memorable holiday by giving gifts, clothing, and necessities to families in need.”

One of the fantastic things about their organization is that if you want to give but feel complicated about just sending money off somewhere, without knowledge of where it’s going to go, you don’t have to worry about it here. All they do is facilitate and provide the information; the money goes directly from your hands to whatever you purchase for the family, and then those things go directly to the family.

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We had a budget, of course, and nine people to buy for, so I went out on Black Friday with the family wishlists and made that budget work. Between both families, there were seven kids, ranging in age from four to twenty-six. We got them tons of gifts, including three bikes that were donated by PDX area folks (and clean up effort and skill provided by a good friend of mine). We also included gift cards to allow the adults to get what they wanted, either for the kids or for themselves, or food for the house.

We wrapped up the gifts, labeled them all, and dropped them off with the families (or their nominating partner) last week.

The holidays aren’t really about gifts, but for kids, gifts are a big deal. These families clearly are filled with people who love and care for their children, and they have people advocating for their needs in a variety of ways.

By doing this, we managed to provide something these folks don’t have, which is the ability to buy some non-practical, just-for-fun goodies that they wouldn’t get otherwise (both kids and parents alike–because they deserve to get nice things).

If you’re in Portland and want to give, Christmas Family Adoption still has families that need to be adopted this year. If you’re outside of the Portland area or have a tighter budget, USPS Operation Santa offers an alternative with a similar impact (and some history on this project here).

 

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