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Gift cards are a wonderful gift, and buying gift cards is a great way to make everyone happy during the holidays, and on special occasions. But buying gift cards can do much more than just make it easy to buy the perfect gift for someone – gift cards may be able to do some real public good in our communities!

In this article, we’ll take a look at a few stories where gift cards are being used to improve the lives of needy individuals, and do some public good! Take a look now, and get inspired!

San Francisco Startup Uses Gift Cards To Combat Homelessness In The Community

A San Francisco startup has had the innovative idea to use gift cards in order to help homeless individuals in the city get the help they need to get their lives back on track, and access the social services and other such resources that they need to stay safe.

HandUp, which was started several years ago, has just announced that it is expanding its gift card program in San Francisco. Individuals can buy gift cards from HandUp for $25. These gift cards, which were launched in August 2015, can be redeemed at Project Homeless Connect and Glide, two providers of resources for homeless individuals in San Francisco.

After expanding in December, 2016, the gift cards could also be redeemed at the Mission Neighborhood Resource Center, as well as the United Council of Neighborhood Services in Bayview, and the MSC South Shelter in SOMA.

The gift cards can be exchanged for food, or other goods such as clothing, blankets, bedding, and more. This allows homeless individuals to get the resources that they need without cash.

HandUp was begun because of a simple problem – if you give cash to a homeless person, you don’t know what they will do with it. They can spend it on anything – including things like cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol. While giving to the homeless is a great thing, it’s discomforting to know that your generous gifts could be used on things that will keep them on the streets, and will not improve their quality of life.

So, the idea behind the program is simple. People can purchase these gift cards, and hand them out to homeless people who they see on the street. Since the project was launched, more than 3,000 cards were handed out to homeless individuals, with a 60-70% redemption rate that continues to climb.

Because these gift cards can only be redeemed at shelters and other resource centers for the homeless, anyone who purchases and hands out a gift card can be sure that their generosity will be truly helpful to a homeless individual. The cards cannot be redeemed for drugs, or used to purchase items like alcohol. Instead, homeless people can get valuable goods, food, and other such items.

The gift cards can be bought both online, and at several physical retail locations, such as Equator Coffee and The Hall. HandUp has also partnered with some major technology companies such as Twitter, Zendesk, Salesforce, and Dolby.

These companies have purchased gift cards, and handed them over to employees to distribute them to homeless people throughout the city.

This is especially important now. Rising housing prices and stagnant wages, as well as higher inflation have contributed to the homelessness crisis in San Francisco. More people than ever are living on the streets, in their cars, or in homeless shelters. According to the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, there are around 6,700 homeless individuals in San Francisco, and only 1,200 emergency shelter beds for these people to be housed in case of emergency weather conditions.

HandUp is a way that people can give back, and help address this issue of homelessness in the area in a meaningful, tactile, and valuable way. Though these gift cards are unlikely to solve the issue of homelessness on their own, they are a great way to get people engaged with the problem – and to build awareness of just how devastating homelessness can be in a city like San Francisco.

The company has raised quite a bit of venture capital from investors such as Marc Benioff, and has also received a grant of $500,000 from Google. Today, HandUp offers gift cards, as well as direct donation programs that help fight poverty in communities across the United States – not just San Francisco.

The company now offers an interface similar to Kickstarter, where individual donors can view campaigns from non-profits across the country, and donate directly to their efforts.

While the housing and homelessness crisis in San Francisco still remains unsolved, it’s good to know that even little things – like buying gift cards online from HandUp – can help at-risk and needy individuals get the care, attention, and resources that they need to recover, and hopefully live a happier, safer, and better life.

Washington Residents Get A New Summer Vacation Reward – Gift Cards For Travelling To Different Libraries Across The State

Libraries around the United States are often under-visited, and under-appreciated, despite the fact that they are one of our most valuable cultural resources. Libraries across the country are absolutely essential – especially for lower-income individuals who need internet access, access to free education materials, and learning programs, as well as after-school activities and other such programs.

And, in Washington State, there is a new incentive for traveling throughout the state, and seeing everything that their extensive library system has to offer. Washington residents will be able to win gift cards to a bookstore, worth $50, $75, and $100 from the Washington Center for the Book. They are eligible if they can prove that they have visited five or more libraries across the state.

The program, called A Passport to Washington Libraries, will be running from June 15 to September 15, throughout the summer. During the program, anyone can post a creative photo to a state map that has been crowd-sourced to show the range of public libraries that are all across the state of Washington.

The map is available at sos.wa.gov/q/passport, and features a customized map that shows hundreds of libraries across the state. To qualify for a gift card reward, visitors must post photographs of five of these Washington libraries to the website. If they do so, they will can win gift cards from the state of Washington.

In addition, participants are required to register with their address. To enter to win gift cards, they cannot simply visit libraries within their hometown. Two or more of the libraries visited must be 50 miles or farther away from their home address.

According to state librarian Cindy Allen, this program is a “… great new reason to make library visits part of… summer travel plans.” Using this program, Washingtonians will be encouraged to explore everything that the library system has to offer.

Once the participants have visited the proper number of libraries and uploaded their pictures to the shared map, they will automatically be entered into a drawing for a $50, $75, or $100 gift card.

Winners of the gift cards will be chosen based on several different factors. The creativity and appeal of the individual photographs will be considered, as will the number of photographs taken at different libraries and facilities around the state. Participants are encouraged to use their “code names” for each picture, and to visit as many libraries as possible to maximize their chances of winning.

To join the program, Washington residents can head to sos.wa.gov/q/register. By creating an account, they will be able to add their crowd-sourced photos to the map, and could win free gift cards! Further details about this program can be found at the Washington Center for the Book website.

This is a great example of how gift cards can be used to encourage education, and the use of public facilities like libraries – which are often overlooked in our modern society.

Central Texas Nonprofit Uses Uber Gift Cards To Help Disabled Individuals Get Around

In Central Texas, a nonprofit group has begun buying gift cards to Uber to help disabled individuals get around town. This move was spurred by a decision by a local transportation provider, HOP Transportation, to stop door-side pickups of those people who live more than 3/4 of a mile outside a HOP bus station.

This move has been controversial, to say the least. It has left many disabled and elderly people without the ability to get around, and has left them stuck in their homes. Many of these individuals spoke out last year a city council meeting in Temple, but a solution has still not been offered.

However, the Heart of Central Texas Independent Living Center has. The company has begun buying Uber gift cards, and offering them to those individuals who qualify. The program is funded by a $10,000 grant from the city.

Individuals who live more than 3/4 of a mile away from a HOP bus stop, and can be proven to need transportation help due to age or disability are eligible for these gift cards, and they will be offered to residents of the city until September, or until funding for the program runs out.

These Uber credits can be used by the individuals for any purpose. From visiting the doctor, to going to the grocery store, or pharmacy, or even visiting friends, relatives, and loved ones. By simply using a smartphone, and the gift cards provided by Heart of Central Texas, disabled and elderly folks can get the transportation that they need.

However, it’s important to note that this is only a stop-gap solution. While many Uber and Lyft drivers do have cars that are spacious enough and can support disabled individuals, there are many others who cannot pick up people with wheelchairs, who often need special transportation and care.

Despite this, though, this program is sure to help the most vulnerable disabled individuals, and all of those people who have been affected by missing bus service, and being confined to their homes.

Interested In Doing Some Good? We Buy Unwanted Gift Cards!

If reading the above stories has made you interested in doing some good with your own gift cards, you may be wondering where to start. Should you just donate your own gift cards, or use them to buy supplies for a homeless shelter, or to support a non-profit? There are so many choices – it’s hard to decide!

If you’re not sure where to start, EJ Gift Cards is the right place for you! If you have unwanted gift cards that have been sitting around in your purse, wallet, or junk drawer, you can sell them to us!

We buy gift cards from hundreds of different companies, and we pay you in cash via PayPal for the value of your gift card. Then, you can use this cash for whatever you want – including charity.

Whether you have a gift card to a restaurant that you never go to, or you have other gift cards that are sitting around collecting dust, they don’t have to go to waste. We buy gift cards of all denominations – even if they are partially used.

You can sell gift cards to EJ Gift Cards now, and use the proceeds to make a donation to a charity of your choice – even one of the ones in our article, like HandUp, or the Heart of Central Texas Independent Living Center

So don’t wait. Whether you’re feeling charitable and like donating to a great cause, or you’re just in need of a service that can buy your gift cards for a great price, you’ve come to the right place. Create an account or log into EJ Gift Cards now, and see how much you can get for your unwanted gift cards when you sell them online!