Gift Guide: Gifts for the charitable

Jim Fischer
Columbus Alive
Columbus Alive

Whether you're looking to make a statement about consumer culture, or just looking for a new tradition for the holidays, a donation in someone's name amounts to more than just clicking through PayPal or Venmo. Contributing to a charity as a means of gift-giving is not only a gift from the heart, but can be one that speaks to the heart of the recipient as well.

Here are a few Central Ohio organizations doing good work on a variety of fronts, to get you in the spirit.


This Columbus-based advocacy, education and support organization serves the state's transgender community. At a crossroads of greater acceptance in some quarters and amid the Trump administration's proposal to define gender in binary terms, TransOhio's mission is as crucial as ever. Last week's Transgender Day of Remembrance was part memorial service and part community affirmation, board members toldAlive.

Gifts can be made to TransOhio through its website. According to Board Member Felicia DeRosa, a $25 gift provides one youth scholarship to the organization's annual symposium;$75 provides up to two transgender youth passport cards;$100 provides literature for a cultural competency training to groups and businesses; and$500 provides legal filing fees for up to four name changes.

Design Outreach

When a group of engineers in Central Ohio decided to put their collective skills to use addressing humanitarian issues and the fundamental needs of people living in impoverished Third World nations, Design Outreach was born. The nonprofit “is dedicated to creating sustainable solutions that help alleviate global poverty,” according to its mission statement. DO's main project is LifePump, a hand pump “designed to go deeper into the ground and last longer than standard pumps available today, providing a sustainable source of safe water for communities that desperately need it,” according to Development Coordinator Amelia Messamore.

LifePump is currently in use in several African nations and in Haiti. A film documenting the success of DO's first LifePump installation in Malawi in 2013 was made by local filmmaker The 5 Stones Group.

As you might guess, given the technological and mechanical nature of the project, LifePump isn't cheap. For those living in a rarified tax bracket, $10,000 funds an entire LifePump and well, which will provide long-lasting, sustainable, safe water for a community of about 250 to 350 people. However, a $40 gift provides safe, reliable water for one person.

Star House

Originally the practical arm of a research project of Ohio State University, Star House recently completed its first year as an independent nonprofit. CEO Ann Bischoff said that stepping out from the university's auspices has allowed Star House to “be more nimble in how we add programs,” while still maintaining an affiliation with the university through ongoing research.

Star House serves Central Ohio youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. During 2018, the drop-in center has served more than 1,000 individual youth (the total does not include the children of many of those served by Star House). On-site therapy and health services, as well as connections to education, housing and transportation services, are next-level offerings; most young people who come to Star House start out with food, a shower and maybe a change of clothes, Bischoff said.

Gifts to Star House support all of these services. A $15 gift provides a week's worth of fresh diapers for one baby; $25 covers one Kroger gift card, so that youth can purchase necessary items; $45 covers the cost of 10 daily bus passes, so youth can get to appointments and job interviews; $100 reconnects a youth to their family out-of-state; and $150 provides work boots or other uniform necessities for six youth.