Choose Love: Shop for Those in Need
’Tis the season. For giving and good will. As we gather with loved ones and exchange gifts over the holidays, we’d also like to extend our giving to those who need it most. The Seaport’s Choose Love pop-up store makes it easy to support refugees around the world—by shopping for the items they need the most.
Rather than donating money to an organization and not knowing where it’s going, Choose Love allows you to select gifts that speak to the way you’d most like to offer support. You can purchase hot food for refugees, for example, or a bundle of winter essentials, or life-saving medical support—just to name a few of the options available.
To discover how this giving works, and how it directly helps the refugees Choose Love supports, we spoke with Philli Boyle, Choose Love’s Founding Member and Director of Partnerships. Read the interview below, and learn more by visiting the Choose Love pop-up at 204 Front Street here at The Seaport, open through Christmas Eve.
What is Choose Love and what does the organization do?
Choose Love is a people-powered non-profit supporting refugees and displaced people at every stage of their journeys—from fleeing conflict and danger, to rebuilding lives in a safe place. We provide everything from lifesaving medical assistance to warm clothes and education for children. We do this through our network of over 250 incredible grassroots partners in 26 countries.
The number of projects you’ve funded and people you’ve supported—almost 4 million people worldwide—is impressive. What is the secret to Choose Love’s growth and success?
Thank you. We owe it all to the people who make it all possible. Firstly, the local organizations whose work we are so honored to fund, all over the world. Our partners, led by people who have experienced forced displacement themselves, are doing the most effective work, responding rapidly to people’s changing needs and doing so with kindness. They inspire us every day to continue to garner support and funding—doing our small part to help them continue their work. Secondly, of course we owe it to those who entrust donations to us.
What has been one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned since Choose Love’s inception?
That people really can change the world when they come together and choose love. We’ve been able to build children’s hospitals, buy ambulances, run schools, change laws, and protect unaccompanied child refugees because our supporters share our values and vision for a world that chooses love and justice every day for everyone. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the things happening in the world around us, but if we just focus on what we can do, in big ways and small ways we can create the world we want to live in.
What was the inspiration for the Choose Love stores?
The motivation behind the Choose Love stores was driven by the challenging conditions in the places we work when winter comes. We needed to come up with a way to raise the extra funds to buy enough warm clothes, blankets, nutritious food and lots more, to meet the needs in the places we work over the coldest, harshest months of the year. So we decided to ask the community to help us reach our goal and to stand in solidarity with refugees. We thought the best way to do this would be laying everything out and inviting people to choose what they would like to contribute, making sure there was something for every budget. The inspiration for our first ever store design was the Apple store but since then the design has evolved, becoming more bright and colorful. It’s a place where people can feel empowered to support refugees and displaced people in tangible ways and the feeling of connection that that creates is a joyful thing.
What appealed to you about having a Choose Love store at the Seaport?
It’s an iconic New York spot, so we were over the moon that the Seaport was happy to host our pop-up! It’s a total dream come true. It’s really popular with holiday shoppers and diners so we’ll get to connect with lots of lovely folks. We’re excited for the holiday feeling, generally, with the ice rink, the tree and the lights. We love that it feels like a real community with lots of great events going on.
What can people shop at the Seaport pop-up and how will they be supporting your mission?
People can come and learn about our work with refugees and displaced people all over the world. You can browse supplies and services that are most needed this winter like kids coats, diapers, LGBTQ+ support, and emergency accommodation. When you buy something, you don’t take it away with you—instead we spend every dollar you give buying that item or funding that service for someone who really needs it. You can also do some holiday shopping with us, as you can buy supplies in the name of a loved one and give them one of our gift cards or you can pick up some Choose Love merch (which you do take away with you!). We have cozy hoodies, t-shirts and baby gear. We will also have some fun events over the course of our pop-up. Keep your eyes on our Instagram feed, @chooselove, as well as the Seaport’s, @theseaportnyc, to keep up to date.
What are some of the most needed items?
Everything in the store is really needed but food and heating fuel are two of the things we’ll need to spend the most on this winter. Prices of these essentials for survival have increased all over the world so we need to do more than ever to help make sure people’s basic needs, to be nourished and warm over the colder months, are met.
Why is holiday giving so important?
Many of us are lucky enough to be spending some time with family and people we love over the holidays—eating good food, having fun, and exchanging gifts. When we feel our own cup is topped up, I think it makes us want to share what we can with others, and, in particular, with people who, for a whole spectrum of reasons, aren’t necessarily enjoying all the comfort and connection that we are. At Choose Love, we make holiday giving tangible and direct, so you know exactly where your kindness is going and what you’re making possible. Having something suitable for every budget is a key part, with prices starting at $10 and going up to $565 to buy one of everything in the whole store! Anyone who can’t get down to the pop-up can still get involved and shop online at www.choose.love. It’s a lovely educational activity to do with kids over the holidays.