Here at Darby, we’re all about giving back (looking at you, Stand Up Initiative). That’s why this holiday season, rather than putting together yet another holiday gift guide, we’ve compiled our 2nd annual holiday GIVE guide...complete with our favorite nonprofits and causes (and a few of the gifts we’ll be GIVING our loved ones this year). Happy holidays from the Darby crew!
As a parent of two daughters at Asheville High School, I like to support their annual Hands Up Program. This important initiative ensures that every student can experience a little bit of holiday magic this season. Purchased and wrapped gifts are appreciated but cash donations help, too. My hope is that with enough community support we can make sure every AHS student feels the love. As far as a gift—give the gift of an experience. Sign up with Wildwater and run the majestic wild and scenic Chattooga River this spring!
This holiday season, we chose to give to two nonprofits in our household: one to help animals and one to help people, because we love them both! Our animal nonprofit was Brother Wolf, because that’s where we adopted our sweet kitty, Olive, and because they do a lot of good in the community to help save animals who have been abused, neglected or left. Our people non-profit was Homeward Bound. Their services in the Asheville area are fighting homelessness by using the Housing First approach, meaning they get people out of homelessness and into homes as quickly as possible.
As far as gift giving, what can I say, I can’t resist a good pair of socks and would love a stocking full of Feetures Everyday socks and Run socks. I’d also take that Shift Tote from Diamond Brand Gear in Briquette, because that thing is so cute and I’d feel good about carrying it since it’s 100% Made in Asheville!!
I always have a really hard time picking one specific nonprofit or charity to give to each year, so I look for opportunities to spread the love in small ways around town, such as buying a box of food for a family in need at the grocery store checkout, or throwing in for a raffle organized by a local shop to benefit storm victims. Chipping in a few bucks here and there while you’re running errands seems a little more manageable on the budget but still lets you make an impact in your community.
As far as gifts I’d recommend giving this holiday season, you really can’t go wrong with any of Darby’s brands. For stocking stuffers, I’d say Ignik’s compostable Hand Warmers, Morakniv Eldris, and App Gear Co Beanie are solid options. For bigger ticket items the whole family can enjoy, a tenalach Night & Day Bocce set or Sierra Designs Meteor 4 tent are going to win you serious brownie points.
Looking for a worthy charity to gift a donation to this holiday season? The Muscular Dystrophy Association has my vote! The MDA is an amazing organization that supports those with Muscular Dystrophy (MD) and their families. In addition to their continued research efforts, MDA provides the opportunity for kids with MD to attend summer camp at no charge. Campers spend time swimming, horseback riding, zip lining and having fun while gaining independence, forming lifelong friendships and building confidence.
As for a specific item to gift a special someone this year…may I suggest the Old Town Topwater 120 PDL, the ULTIMATE hands-free fishing ‘yak. “What about a gift for the non-angler?,” you ask. May I present to you the Ocean Kayak Malibu Pedal, the ULTIMATE hands-free water cruising ‘yak. “But Cory, I don’t have the storage space for a large kayak,” you say. Alright, I totally hear you, that’s a valid point. May I suggest the Everyday Hidden Sock from Feetures, the ULTIMATE hidden sock for that loafer wearing someone…because who doesn’t love a good pair of socks?
This holiday season, I’ll be donating to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, which works to conserve and protect one of my favorite places on Earth. When you donate to the ATC, you’re helping them train trail volunteers, hire ridgerunners and caretakers, perform trail work, and lead courses on conservation and Leave No Trace principles. What better way to give back to a trail that has given so many others so much??
If you’re looking for a stocking stuffer for the adventurer in your life, I highly recommend Appalachian Gear Company’s Beanies, Gaiters, or Ornaments. My favorite thing about AppGearCo’s garments? They’re made from 100% alpaca fiber—no synthetics, microplastics, or chemicals. So you can add a little “green” under the tree.
In North Carolina, about 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence from an intimate partner. Domestic violence hotlines receive approximately 21,000 calls per day, which equals out to about 15 calls per minute. That’s why it’s important to donate to Helpmate, a Buncombe County nonprofit that provides services to victims of domestic abuse. In addition to a 24-hour hotline, Helpmate also provides emergency shelter, counseling, court advocacy and preventative education for all residents of Buncombe county.
For the fur-parent on your list, Astral’s AstroPad dog bed is a no-brainer! The paddlesports brand just released a new batch of AstroPads made from recycled PFD scraps. Not only is the AstroPad fang and odor resistant, its removable cover is machine washable and comes equipped with a carry handle for life on-the-go. Best of all, the luxurious bed insert is made from scraps of closed cell UL approved foam.
Every year I donate to three area nonprofits. Friends of the Smokies helps raise funds for our nation's most-visited national park. Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy has worked to protect some of my favorite places in the mountains, such as the Highlands of Roan. Finally, Asheville GreenWorks has a number of volunteer-driven initiatives focusing on environmental stewardship in Asheville and Buncombe County—I especially like the Trash Trout, which keeps pounds of garbage out of our streams and rivers.
For the athletes in your life, I would recommend Tailwind Nutrition's Colorado Cola—their newest Endurance Fuel flavor is probably my favorite. But for anyone who doesn't have an ambitious fitness goal for 2020, I would recommend Night & Day Frisknock from tenalach. My girlfriend and I played it while camping over the summer and it’s been a staple on our camping trips ever since.
This holiday season I recommend giving to Brother Wolf Animal Rescue or Girls on the Run. Brother Wolf gives animals, like our dog and cat, a second chance. Girls on the Run empowers young women to live a healthier, more confident lifestyle, which I think is awesome! My go-to gift this holiday season is the Morakniv Kansbol. It’s the ultimate all-around knife with a stainless steel blade, ground spine for fire starting, and symmetrical handle for ease of use with both hands.