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A meaningful holiday gift guide for R.I.

Saddiqa Ailzada, formerly of Afghanistan, was at the Refugee Dream Center last year to welcome refugees being evacuated from her home country.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Admittedly, the most meaningful gift I’ve given in years past might have been that Rustic Drive-In Christmas tree ornament I found at Benny’s. But amid a housing crisis, skyrocketing costs, and war abroad, Rhode Island could use a holiday gift guide on this Giving Tuesday aimed at making more of a difference.

While Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times columnist-turned-gubernatorial-candidate-turned-columnist, compiles a list of gifts of meaning, this list, crafted with the help of local leaders, has more of a Rhode Island accent.

Jessica David, a former Rhode Island Foundation executive who is now president of a nonprofit called Local Return, offered these suggestions:


The Urban Perinatal Education Center & Clinic, based at its new home in Pawtucket, is taking on Rhode Island’s maternal health disparities and poor birth outcomes, particularly among people of color.

The Tomaquag Museum, Rhode Island’s only museum dedicated to telling the story of the Indigenous peoples of this land, is developing a new campus on 18 acres at the University of Rhode Island.

The Women’s Resource Center of Newport & Bristol Counties is one of the local organizations providing an emergency hotline, transitional housing, and counseling at a time when incidents of domestic violence are far too prevalent.

Riverzedge Arts promotes arts, education, and entrepreneurship for youth in Woonsocket and northern Rhode Island.

”There are so many worthy causes to support, from global movements to national issues to the things near and dear to you, like libraries, parks, or small businesses,” David said. “Every dollar you deploy has impact. So be creative and bold!”

Teddi Jallow, executive director and co-founder of the Refugee Dream Center, said her Providence-based organization is among several groups providing help as refugees from countries such as Afghanistan and Ukraine settle in Rhode Island. Donations will help the refugees buy warm coats and pay heating bills as winter approaches, she said.


Jallow also suggested giving to:Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island, the state’s main refugee resettlement agency.

Beautiful Day, a Providence nonprofit that sells gourmet granola, granola bars, and coffee made by refugees as a way of helping them to enter the job market.

Lisa Guillette, executive director of Foster Forward, said the East Providence-based organization will be accepting donations of new pajamas for children in foster care (sizes birth through young adult) from 4 to 8 p.m. today at its community storefront at 50 Ann Mary St., Pawtucket, or through its Holiday Gifts Campaign.

Guillette also suggested that:

People give to the United Way of Rhode Island to help residents with housing, food security, education, and early child care.

Landlords take part in the Landlord Partnership Program, which provides financial incentives to rent to people with federal housing vouchers that they’ve been unable to use because of the housing shortage. Rhode Island Housing has more information. “That’s the gift of housing,” she said.

This story first appeared in Rhode Map, our free newsletter about Rhode Island that also contains information about local events, data about the coronavirus in the state, and more. If you’d like to receive it via e-mail Monday through Friday, you can sign up here.

Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at Follow him @FitzProv.