Looking for last-minute, thoughtful gifts for the movers, shakers, and changemakers in your life? Silently protesting the commercialization of the holidays? Wanting to put more intentionality behind your gift giving this holiday season?
If so, I feel you. I feel the grind of living through a pandemic. I feel the anger of seeing how the system fails those who have the least resources and support among us. I feel the anxiety over the future of abortion access, the safety of trans people, the protection of our voting rights, or the freedom to read and learn whatever you like in schools.
I’ll be honest: I am tired, and I am behind on my gift planning for this year. If you find yourself in my shoes, here are some recommendations for you.
Give the gift of care:
Abortion is essential. Abortion access should not depend on where we live or who we are. Virginia has made great strides in removing barriers to abortion access, and we will continue to fight like hell to ensure anyone who needs abortion care is able to get it.
At the local level, several abortion funds continue to provide essential care to Virginians across the Commonwealth. Blue Ridge Abortion Fund, New River Abortion Access Fund, The Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project, and DC Abortion Fund are just a few funds in Virginia and D.C. doing this important work. Now more than ever, they could use your support. Make a donation in honor of your loved one and lend a hand to keep abortion safe, legal, and accessible.
Give the gift of hope:
The holiday season is a time for family. Yet, for so many Virginians who are incarcerated and their families on the outside, it marks another year they can’t be together. These families continue to be separated not necessarily because that would keep our communities safer, but because of decades of tough-on-crime policies that have led to too many people being locked up for way too long.
Grassroots organizations like Nolef Turns, Sistas in Prison Reform, The Humanization Project, and Bridging the Gap in Virginia (to name just a few) are founded and led by people who have been impacted by the criminal legal system. These advocates are working day and night to bring their loved ones home and keep people out of prisons for good. Consider supporting these organizations and send a much-needed message to those behind bars that they are not forgotten.
Give the gift of knowledge:
As many school districts are considering banning or removing books from the shelves, it's critical that we protect the freedom to read and think for ourselves. We all deserve an opportunity to learn through books and become critical thinkers and empathetic human beings.
Support your local, independent bookstores and get your loved ones a couple of banned books this holiday season. Chop Suey Books (Richmond), Fountain Bookstore (Richmond), One More Page Books (Arlington), Hooray for Books! (Alexandria), AFK Books & Records (Virginia Beach), and Givens Books & Little Dickens (Lynchburg) are just a few local bookstores we’ve had the pleasure of working with in the past. Find an independent bookstore near you and pay them a visit!
Give the gift of solidarity:
Amidst attacks on trans rights, trans youth refuse to be erased or silenced. With courage they show up, speak out, and demand their rights to be treated with dignity and respect. Trans youth are loved, and we will show up for them.
If you’re looking for something special for a young person in your family, they may be very proud to know that a contribution made in their name is going toward an organization working to protect trans youth in Virginia, such as Equality Virginia, Side by Side Virginia, He She Ze and We, Equality Loudoun, and so many more.
Give the gift of participation:
Not all gifts have to be monetary. Not all gifts have to be for a person you know. Sometimes the act of giving is what matters.
Currently, approximately 250,000 Virginians cannot vote because of felony convictions, even though they have served their time. They could be your neighbors. In 2022, the Virginia General Assembly is going to vote on a constitutional amendment that would pave the way toward restoring their eligibility to vote and allowing these returning citizens to have a voice in our democracy. Give the gift of action and call on your lawmakers to support the Right to Vote Constitutional Amendment.
From those of us who have much, we thank you for the gifts you bring to those who have so little. Happy holidays!