Community Voices
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The author’s daughter goes shopping at a local thrift store. (photo: Amber Sheikh)

The frenzy of gift-giving is very real. 

At least I know it is for me, and I suspect it is for many of you. So, I want to take a beat and chat about how we can approach giving more meaningfully and intentionally. 

Let’s start with what we buy and from where. With two kids, a gaggle of cousins, nieces and nephews, friends, and colleagues, I know too well how much “stuff” we accumulate. Consider then regifting. Something you no longer use or need may have use for someone else. 

I know, regifting is often thought of as a faux pas, something we do for white elephant parties, not for real gifts. It’s “the thought that counts,” right? The genuine value of a gift is in what we give, not how much we spend on it. So, in that spirit, I urge you to reconsider your perspective on regifting.

And if not regifting, there’s always thrifting, and we live in the perfect town for that! I’m an avid thrifter. My eight-year-old daughter is one, too. I have shared my finds with others and converted a few folks — those who never would have thought about buying something used. (I even have a second Instagram account for my finds.) The idea that we get to enjoy something once loved by someone else is lovely. 

Where you spend is powerful. While Amazon sells us everything under the sun and brings it to our doorstep, the impact of those dollars isn’t as direct as it could be. From gift cards to other items on your lists, everything can be bought locally. And when you spend locally, you support your neighbors, some of whom have lived and served this community for generations. That spending has value. It is meaningful. It carries intention. 

My family and friends will be getting used books from Sunken City Books and gift cards from Distrito Coffee and Sirens Java & Tea, as well as to the amazing restaurants in town. I love giving candles from Homemade by the Hays. Cabrillo Marine Aquarium has the best gift shop, and CRAFTED has something for everyone. For the kiddos, I’ll pop into any number of thrift stores in town to buy toys, clothes, and look for other interesting finds. 

Experiences also make great gifts, especially when you can support arts organizations while spending time with those you love. The Grand Annex and Little Fish Theatre are local gems that showcase wonderful local and regional artists — consider buying tickets to a show. So many local arts organizations in San Pedro and beyond could benefit from your patronage and support. 

San Pedro is home to some extraordinary charities doing phenomenal work in the community that improves the quality of life for our neighbors. As you determine where to direct your donations, please consider our local nonprofit organizations. While I don’t have enough space in these pages to provide an extensive list of every charitable organization in town, I’ll highlight a few that have donation drives for the holidays:

Harbor Community Health Centers provide quality, comprehensive healthcare and supportive services to those in our community, regardless of their ability to pay. Donate to their Holiday Donation Drive:

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Los Angeles Harbor helps young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens. Donate unwrapped toys, games, clothes, and shoes for ages 5-12 and gift cards for ages 13-18. Drop off locations:

Harbor Connects works with trusted community partners and service providers to assist our neighbors in need. On any given night, more than 1,600 unhoused neighbors are in the Harbor Area. Donate to to help our neighbors.

Oh, and wrapping paper. The kids and I decided that this year, we will use newspaper (yes, I still get a physical paper), vintage scarves, and fabric we find at thrift stores to wrap our treasures in. 

Hey, thank you. 

Sharing these stories and reflections with you over the past year has been a special experience. Thank you for joining me here each month. I wish you and yours, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! spt

Amber Sheikh

Amber Sheikh is a San Pedro resident, mother of two, community advocate, and owner of Sheikh/Impact, a nonprofit consulting firm. She has nearly two decades of experience working in and with organizations solving homelessness and income inequality.