Extra special gifts for the holidays


Looking for a great holiday gift that does more than bring a smile to the recipient’s face? We have some fun ideas for you.


Order Miss Fran’s Shortbread from ilovesweets.com and benefit Have Dreams, which helps people with autism gain life skills and find support and employment. Tins with chocolate chip and traditional shortbread are $15, and a mini package of traditional shortbread is $60. Orders can be shipped or picked up at Have Dreams’ locations in Evanston or Park Ridge.


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Nothing says the holidays like sparkle. That’s where Kelly Neville comes in. The 25-year-old woman, who has Down syndrome, knows sparkle. She and her mom, Kathy, are the hands behind Special Sparkle, a 5-year-old company they operate from their Naperville home that specializes in pretty jewelry, keychains and bookmarks.

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Not only does the work make Kelly proud and confident, her mom also loves that it shows others to have high expectations from people with special needs. Order through specialsparkle.com, or visit Kelly at the craft fair at Fremd High School in Palatine this Saturday.

Another great option is Harrysbuttons.com, a workplace created and managed by Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago, which now offers personalized pendants, bracelets and frames featuring your own photos or artwork for $30-40.


Make 2017 a year of action. The 2017 Gigi’s Playhouse Take Action Calendar features simply adorable kids with Down syndrome, their stories and month-by-month goals to create positive change for $12 each.


Yummy coffee and coffee-infused caramels make great gifts while you help Aspire, a Chicago nonprofit for kids and adults with disabilities. Aspire CoffeeWorks offers an assortment of coffee-based gifts, but we like the coffee and caramels gift basket, $24.95.



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