Gifts with Heart

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The holidays are often equated with decorations, big meals and, perhaps most importantly, shopping. But while you are swiping that plastic or forking over cash for presents for family and loved ones, it can feel especially nice to mix purchasing with philanthropy. We suggest not only indulging in your consumer urges but helping out a Downtown not-for-profit while doing it. Below is a list of local nonprofits that offer a wide array of feel-good purchases.

9/11 MEMORIAL Northeast corner of Albany and Greenwich Sts.,

With free admission to both the 9/11 memorial and museum, it's nice to give back with a gift shop purchase-net proceeds go toward developing and sustaining the organization. While the museum shop offers everything from FDNY and NYPD ornaments to 10th anniversary jewelry, our favorite picks can be found in the book section, particularly Listening Is an Act of Love ($24.95), a medley of StoryCorpxs' 30,000- plus recorded interviews arranged to show a portrait of American life. For the shopper looking to give a small piece of the memorial to their loved one, the 9/11 Memorial Lapel Pin ($6) is a good pick.

FILM FORUM 209 W. Houston St. (betw. 6th Ave. and Varick St.),

While Downtown is known for its selection of indie movie houses, few know that Film Forum is indeed a not-for-profit. The cinema had humble beginnings in 1970, when it consisted of 50 folding chairs, one projector and a $19,000 annual budget. It has since flourished into a three-screen space that shows a fascinating, out-of-the-ordinary collection of films (see Cullen Gallagher's piece on Film Forum's silent film series at For the cinéaste or art lover in your life, consider buying them a Film Forum DVD set on varying themes like fashion or dance. The dance set ($65) includes three carefully curated DVDs: Stormy Weather, The Red Shoes and Ballets Russes. Or grab the Maira Kalman-author of the Max books-T-shirt, with six canine cinephiles watching a 3-D movie ($14.95).


The name is misleading; the GVSHP fights to preserve the architectural heritage and cultural history of buildings in the East Village and Noho as well as Greenwich Village. Founded in 1980, the GVSHP also offers public lectures, tours, exhibitions, school programs, an oral history project and publications. Tucked on their website is a roster of locally themed wares like the GVSHP porcelain holiday ornament bearing an anthemion ($9.99) or a poster of Tony Sarg's classic 1934 Village map ($17.99).


For the location nearest you, visit While running thrift stores with amazing bargains and a coffee house/bookstore with great brews and good reads, at the end of the day Housing Works' main mission is to help homeless and HIV/ AIDS-afflicted New Yorkers. Their various entrepreneurial pursuits, which also include a catering company and screenprinting business, all go to fund their main goal. If you are unable to make it to their brick-and-mortar storefronts, Housing Works also boasts a well-organized website, where you can place bids on some truly remarkable items. Last time we checked, a vintage Gucci cross carry bag was going for $75, along with a monogrammed zip case at $45. You can also purchase art, accessories and even furniture, like an Avery Boardman Sleeper Sofa for $175.

TENEMENT MUSEUM 103 Orchard St. (betw. Delancey and Broome Sts.),

The Tenement Museum aims to preserve and interpret the history of immigration to the Lower East Side by telling the personal experiences of immigrants past and present. While the museum is known for its neighborhood tours, exquisitely restored apartment exhibitions and thought-provoking talks, it also boasts a large selection of funky and chic merchandise at college student prices. Pick up the Tenement tote bag ($8.95) for your farmers market fanatic friend or the gold Skyline desk organizer ($25.95) for your officemate. For those family and friends who celebrate Chanukah, how could you say no to a set of four glasses of the "Heroes of the Torah" ($22.95)?


While The Moth, a live storytelling series that started in NYC but is now aired on select NPR stations, might not have a physical store, the not-for-profi t is based in Soho. If you aren't able to make it or get into the live show-they often sell out-we suggest giving the gift of The Moth by purchasing their Best Of box sets (Volume 1 or 2, $55 each). The stories on these CD compilations are told by some familiar voices, like Jonathan Ames, Malcolm Gladwell and Dan Savage. For a Moth-related present that won't leave a dent in your wallet, take a peek at their line of "I Moth Stories" T-shirts ($20).





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