SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - 'Tis the season for giving and not just to friends and family. The majority of stores in Santa Barbara, large and small, are selling something this holiday that helps others, some a world away.
Shoppers at the Seaside Makers Collective in Santa Barbara's Funk Zone will find a creative twist to the fabled "Mermaid Tear" reference for sea glass.
The wives of two local firefighters are behind the effort, selling handmade sea glass ornaments, for a cause.
"We thought, how can we help out?" explained Seaside Makers Collective co-owner Jules Kramer. "We know what it's like to go through all this tragedy with the fires and the mudslides and with what happened up in Paradise and down in Thousand Oaks and Malibu, we decided to call these "California Tears." They are locally-found sea glass pieces."
The ocean stones sell for $15 dollars apiece; proceeds go to people and families impacted by California's recent wildfires.
For many local residents, gift-giving takes on an even deeper meaning during the holiday season.
Members of a local book club, now 10 years strong, are devoted to helping others, one gift at a time.
"A few years back we decided that it was important that we still give and receive because it's Christmas time," said Christine Feldman. "But, how about we go and buy something that actually can help someone else?"
Over the years, the group has raised thousands of dollars for various causes and non-profits, including Wildlife Relief Fund for Paradise, Planned Parenthood, Blue Planet, Heal the Ocean and Women's Economic Ventures, among many more.
Proceeds from many of the gifts that the 24 members purchase go to global causes: a silver beaded bracelet and earring set helps the people of Madagascar; a handmade Indian journal raises funds for inner-city schools; the purchase of a FEED bracelet provides five school meals to children in need.
"You sort of, throughout the year, you're kind of thinking about it," said Emily Carey. "If you find something along your travels or wherever you are, that gives back to a charity, you think, 'Oh, this might be a good book club gift.'"
Buying locally and thinking globally is just one way to make the world a little bit brighter during the holidays.