Bay Area Business Woman

Benovolent Gifts

Vol. 17 No. 2 DECEMBER 2008

A Season of Sharing Benovolent Gifts

By Kenya McCullum

We have all heard that it’s better to give than to receive and most of us know this is true. Remember the look on your loved one’s face when they unwrapped the perfect present that you put so much thought and care into getting for them?

That look encapsulates the joy of giving, but it doesn’t have to end there. Many opportunities exist to spread this joy around the Bay Area, during the holidays and beyond, and give gifts that keep on giving—both to people we love and to people we will never meet.

In today’s world where many of us question how much is enough, here are some suggestions for ways to give more than the traditional holiday gifts – gifts that keep on giving.

Trees for a Change

One fateful day, Kim Isley looked around her home and decided that she had way too much stuff. In the materialistic world in which we live, she realized she didn’t need this vast accumulation. And then she thought about all the stuff that her friends and family owned and wondered if there was a better way to express your love and appreciation for someone during special occasions that didn’t involve adding to the clutter already in their homes collecting dust bunnies.

It was this desire to decrease clutter combined with her interest in environmental issues that began the wheels turning. Isley desired to start her own business, and these were key issues that framed the plan that resulted in Trees for a Change (www., an organization that plants trees as gifts to replenish national forests that have been ravaged by wildfires. Isley works with the U.S. National Forest Service, which decides what location the trees are needed most and handles actually planting them.

Trees for a Change has also given Isley the opportunity to express her creative side. Every time a customer plants a tree, Isley — who has enjoyed making gifts for her loved ones for many years — makes a personalized certificate and card representing the purchase. This adds a unique touch to the business and people appreciate receiving something so special that memorializes the difference they are making to the environment by planting a tree.

“People feel really appreciative of what I’m doing, which is really so touching because I feel so strongly about the trees,” she said. “I would say that this is their opportunity to give a really meaningful gift and at the same time make an important, positive impact on the planet.” For more information or to do some holiday shopping, visit their website at