Shopping with a positive impact

Sure, you love unwrapping gifts as much as the next person — we do, too. But watching a loved one open the perfect present, courtesy you, ranks among the top warm-fuzzy winter feelings.

Kick that charity-inspired  cheer up a notch with these gifts that give — and give again.

The Arboretum gift shop

Photo by Can Türkyilmaz

The White Rock Lake area’s garden of Eden, the Dallas Arboretum, features more than 65 acres of sprawling outdoor botanical beauty, so it is easy to forget that inside the main entrance booth is the little Hoffman Family Store, a gift shop whose proceeds go to the arboretum, a nonprofit organization, and its research and education programs.

And oh, the gems you can find here.

Have a bird lover on the list? Get your owl jewelry boxes and bejeweled hummingbird tea holders here. Kids? Plush toys and colorful children’s clothing, accessories and miniature gardening tools abound. Bookworms? The boutique offers a selection of beautiful coffee table books and quirky titles such as Bill Adler Jr.’s “Outwitting Squirrels: 101 cunning strategies to reduce dramatically the egregious misappropriation of seed from your birdfeeder by squirrels.” Birdhouses, nature-inspired jewelry, garden tools, bird baths, hats, lawn chairs, picnic baskets — the list goes on, and new items arrive every day, staffers say.

On Thursdays, senior citizens receive a 20 percent discount at the store. Dallas Arboretum’s Terry Lendecker hopes shoppers might also consider giving an Arboretum membership, which includes a 10 percent discount at the shop.

Hoffman Family Store, 214.515.6576
• An individual year-round Dallas Arboretum membership is $68 and includes admission for the member and a guest. More gift membership options are available at or 214.515.6547.

Trüst Voice Watch

Photo by Benjamin Hager

Lake Highlands entrepreneur Steve Faris settles into his seat on an airplane and begins speaking into his watch. In a deep and soothing tone, the classic-looking analogue watch responds. The guy next to Faris looks over. “Where can I get one of those?”

Good news for gadget geeks — the futuristic watch will be available at The Store in Lake Highlands and online, for about $97, in time for the holidays.

Entrepreneur Steve Faris. Photo by Benjamin Hager

Driven by an entrepreneurial spirit, a desire to restore the wristwatch’s relevance and a commitment to balancing profit and positive social impact, Faris worked with Lake Highlands businessman Norm Miller and Chinese engineers to develop both the Trüst Voice Watch and the Via Caller ID Photo Watch, whose sales will benefit humanitarian organizations that aid human sex trafficking victims and work to stop the practice.

“Sometimes we think we have it tough, then you see these people who are really dealing with issues some don’t even think about,” he says.

Faris, who has four children in Lake Highlands schools, says his family volunteers with indigent and homeless people, and they know that human sex trafficking is a problem, even locally. For every watch sold, $5 will go to charity.

The charity factor is born of a genuine desire to have a significant impact, and isn’t just a promotional gimmick, Faris says. “We really want to create a network of people buying and sharing about the watches, not just for profit, but we want to use it to address serious issues.”

Norm Miller, CEO of Interstate Battery, is a well-known speaker and philanthropist who helped develop the watches.

“There is not a more generous person,” Faris says. The Trüst Voice Watch idea grew out of Miller’s desire to help himself help others, he explains. Miller often attends speaking engagements and people ask him favors — “to pray for them or send them his book, for example. He really wanted to remember to do what he said he would do, without having to stop and write it down.”

The voice watch allows the user to record voice messages and set alarm reminders at the touch of a button.

“Everything, even the instructions, are voice-activated,” Faris says. “You don’t know how to do something, you ask.” The default voice that answers, incidentally, is that of KLUV radio broadcaster John Rivers.

Faris has recorded messages into his father’s Trüst Voice Watch that remind him to take his medicine every day. “Daily at the same time my dad hears me say, ‘Take the blue pill and call me.”

The Via ID Photo Watch, Faris’ second product, connects to a cell phone via blue tooth and alerts wearers when they have a phone call, or when they have left their phone behind, to name a couple features .

He has more watches in various stages of development, “one that allows you to talk to your phone … open your garage door … and one with a GPS system,” he says.

The Store in Lake Highlands
214.553.8850, 10233 E. Northwest Highway

Roma boots

Remember the great snow and ice storm of 2011? You know, the one that shut down schools for a week and sabatoged Super Bowl parties everywhere? A pair of Roma boots sure would have come in handy that week.

Roma hunter-style rain boots are warm, sturdy, protective to the knee, and dang stylish. And for each pair sold ($79 adult and $39 for kids), Roma for All donates a pair to a child living in poverty. Founder and White Rock area resident Samuel Bistrian was visiting his home country of Ukraine when he noticed little children sloshing through dirt and snow in either sandals, worn shoes or no shoes at all (he recalls being fortunate enough to have a pair of hand-me-down boots when he was a child living there).

“Providing proper footwear is just the first step to helping these children break out of the poverty cycle,” Bistrian says. “My broader plan is to empower them by getting them back into the education system. So wherever we do a boot drop, we’ll be able to connect these kids with a local educational organization and say, ‘Hey we did this for these kids, but these kids need more than just a pair of rain boots. They need an education.’ ”

Pick up a pair of Roma boots — so you and yours’ toes can be protected from this winter’s elements — at Ditto Boutique in Hillside Village or online at

Ditto Boutique
6465 Mockingbird, 214.370.4444
Read more about Roma Boots here.


The fennec is the smallest — and possibly most adorable — of the fox family. It resides mostly in the Sahara of North Africa, but this season, you can get a sweet likeness of the perky-eared animal at Build-a-Bear Workshop, and each purchase will benefit real wildlife. Build-a-Bear donates one dollar from each $25 fox to the World Wildlife Fund to protect endangered animals and their habitats.

• Build-a-Bear
NorthPark 8686 North Central, Suite 758, 214.987.1624

T. Hee Greetings & Gifts

Photo by Can Türkyilmaz

If you’re hosting a party this holiday season, wander inside T. Hee Greetings & Gifts — the neighborhood boutique stuffed with stylish stationary; glass pigs; snuggly plush pets; blinged-out bags, baubles and bows; sports paraphernalia for the fan or host (check out the “Bad Call Bricks,” soft bricks to throw at your television when the ref irks you), yard art, table decorations and scores of things that smell crazy good (and that’s just at first blush). If you don’t have holiday party plans, it will make you want to throw one.

David Farris and Tony Doles constantly carry the store’s colorful character into the community, participating in all sorts of fundraisers and neighborhood events.

“Since opening our first store we have been dedicated to giving back to the community in any way possible,” Farris says. “While we do our share of check writing to Lake Highlands- and Lakewood-based organizations, we also always look for ways to use the resources we have available to do more for an organization beyond a mere cash donation.”

Recently, for example, they worked with the Merriman Park Elementary PTA to provide “Welcome Back” bags for schoolteachers, and they supplied decorations for the PTA’s fundraising auction.

Every year near the holidays, T. Hee hosts shop nights for a couple of different neighborhood organizations including Lake Highlands Women’s League, which provides college scholarships to financially strapped students. Those nights usually turn out to be a don’t-miss kind of party where shoppers stock up on holiday gifts.

“Shop nights always enjoy a robust attendance and are always a lot of fun,” Farris says. “At the end of the night, we cut a check for a percentage of the night’s receipts back to the charity.”

• T. Hee Greetings & Gifts
• 9661 Audelia, 214.747.5800
• 6465 E. Mockingbird, 972.996.2606


Follow your nose to LUSH at NorthPark. Even when rushing to a Genius Bar appointment at the nearby Apple store, we can’t help but stop outside and maybe just take a peek inside LUSH, home of handmade, all-natural and innovative cosmetics, creams and other bath-y stuff. Their $22 Charity Pot Body lotion is a mug of soft, cocoa-buttery, vegan lusciousness for the bod, and 100 percent of sales, minus taxes, goes to the Charity Pot fund to support animal welfare, humanitarian concerns and environmental conservation.

NorthPark Center, 8686 North Central, 214.696.5874

Holiday in the Highlands Market

There’s a place in Lake Highlands that boasts thousands of unique handmade gifts, and homemade goodies, but it is open only one day this year — Friday, Dec. 2 at 9:30 a.m. at the Highlands Oaks Church of Christ.

The Holiday in the Highlands Market is a popular part of the annual Lake Highlands Women’s League Holiday in the Highlands Home Tour, which will feature four of Lake Highlands’ most interesting homes (tour stops: 6831 Hyde Park, 9306 Wildhaven, 8827 Kenton and 9503 Shady Valley).

The league, over its 41 years, has raised $1,611,587, which it has used for Lake Highlands students’ college scholarships as well as community organizations, schools, and development and improvement projects in our neighborhood. The holiday market is a treasure trove of jewelry, toys, clothing, crafts, holiday decorations, stationary, bed and bath products, and other gifts.
Home tour ($10-$15) and market/bake sale
9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2
Highland Oaks Church of Christ, 10805 Walnut Hill
A luncheon from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. is held at the same location ($12 purchased in advance only).

The Store in the Highlands

This neighborhood boutique carries gobs of gifts that give back: Vera Bradley designs are a staple at The Store in Lake Highlands, and the line’s Tea Garden and Twirly Birds Pink styles return 10 percent of sales to the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer. Also, 5 percent of sales of Caren Original bath lotions at The Store are donated to Breast Cancer Alliance, which has, in its 14 years, awarded more than $13 million in grants to cancer centers. Boymom Designs, creators of stylish and sporty BoyMom T-shirts, donates five percent of sales to orphaned children living in Southeast Asia. A portion of Tryst Kiss fragrance from Lady Primrose also is donated to cancer research.

The Store in Lake Highlands
10233 E. Northwest Highway

Second Chance Treasures

East Lake Veterinary Hospital and Pet Orphanage — a tangerine-colored edifice with a sprawling doggie playground out back — is the place where the city’s most fortunate orphaned animals end up. In the early 2000s, Dr. Karen Fling opened the no-kill shelter, even though it meant expenses she wasn’t quite sure how to handle.

“We want to make a difference in the community,” Fling has said. “If the animal is fixable, we’ll do whatever it takes to treat them without regard to cost.”

After operating for years under a significant deficit that nearly thwarted operations at the orphanage, Fling and volunteers opened the resale store Second Chance Treasures, on Garland Road at Peavy, where 100 percent of the profits go to East Lake’s orphanage.

The boutique is the same bright hue as the orphanage and is chock full of handpicked, and in some cases valuable, estate-sale items.
9034 Garland, 214.660.9696

Another good-giving idea

The Lake Highlands High School PTA’s LH Angels each year runs an adopt-a-family program to help those who are struggling financially. The “Angels” work with the school counselors to identify families in need and pair them with a local business, an individual, a scout troop or team that will provide holiday gifts, food and decorations for the adoptive family. If you want to donate a gift card, adopt a family or become an LH Angel, contact Kelly Klemme at or 214.549.0687.