Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Style and Substance


Fashion and good causes often go hand-in-hand, from red ribbons symbolizing AIDS awareness to the enormously popular charity wristband campaigns. Shoppers are finding even more ways to boost awareness for their most cherished causes through their purchases.

At Web sites like GreaterGood.com and iGive.com, you can shop at a variety of stores, with a portion of the sale going to a charity of your choice. These sites feature special sales and promotions at stores like J.C. Penney, the GAP, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, or on individual brands like Kenneth Cole, ESPRIT, Rampage and Fossil. Greater Good also has individual sites dedicated to hunger relief, saving endangered rainforests, and health and literacy programs.

MAC Cosmetics has been at the forefront of the effort to raise awareness and funds for people living with HIV/AIDS. Their Viva Glam campaign features celebrities like Pamela Anderson, Christina Aguilera, Missy Elliott and Boy George, who dedicate their time on behalf of the cause. All proceeds from the sale of Viva Glam cosmetics will benefit the MAC AIDS Fund.

Breast cancer awareness has grown in recent years, due in part to the pink ribbon campaign that made pink symbolic of efforts to fight the disease. Designer Cynthia Rowley has designed a pink canvas tote bag available through Quilted Northern products, with net proceeds going to The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Shoppers can also purchase an Ann Taylor-designed T-shirt and watch through the Komen Foundation's Web site. Retailers like eBags also announced they will donate 10 percent of the retail sale price of every pink bag purchased on their Web site to the Komen Foundation.

DKNY, Liz Claiborne and Nine West are among the brands contributing to the "Hope Catalog" at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The special "hope." collection was created to help spread the message of hope for children battling cancer and other catastrophic diseases. The collection features DKNY-designed T-shirts, neckties and a variety of jewelry. Nine West and Liz Claiborne products in the collection include wristlet purses, tote bags, brag books and key fobs. Money from catalog sales will go to the research hospital.

Many charities offer their own branded merchandise to raise funds, and make them available on their Web sites. The American Heart Association's "Go Red For Women" campaign features T-shirts, jewelry and other accessories with the signature red dress logo to raise awareness of women and heart disease.

If you're not sure whether a site or charity is legitimate, or you just want to see how it compares to others, be sure to check out a charity rating guide or Web sites like CharityNavigator.org. Check the organizations to see where proceeds go - whether it directly benefits the cause, or goes mostly to administrative costs. When shopping online, some brands offer a higher percentage donation than others, so your purchase may go just a little bit further towards something that matters to you.

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