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As a longtime supporter of breast cancer awareness, domestic violence prevention, and emergency relief charities, Avon has recently expanded its do-good mission with its new Hello Green Tomorrow program. For every $1 donation (which can be made at avon.com or through an Avon sales rep), the beauty corporation and its partner, The Nature Conservancy, will plant a tree in the Atlantic Rain Forest, in South America -- one of the most endangered tropical forests on the planet. The company's six million-plus sales reps worldwide will help solicit donations as well as teach customers how to live greener lives. "Our mission at Avon is to drive great change through simple actions," says Susan Arnot Heaney, the company's director of corporate responsibility. Avon has also made a $1 million corporate contribution to plant one million trees, which will restore 2,500 acres of rain forest.Giving the Gift of Warmth
Some charity efforts start small and expand over time, but while planning Lands' End's first Big Boston Warm Up coat drive for the homeless last winter, its employees decided to go big and launch nationwide. With the aid of the Massachusetts and National Coalitions for the Homeless, the campaign collected more than 7,800 coats in Boston and more than 33,000 nationally in a month. "The coats went from drop-off boxes to homeless people within 30 days, which is remarkable," says Neil Donovan, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless. Lands' End also donated 5,000 pounds of yarn to the knitting charity Warming Families -- enough to create 29,560 hats for the homeless.Helping Disadvantaged Students Soar
Despite his limited education, chocolate magnate Milton Hershey made millions in his lifetime -- millions he then spent on giving children in need the opportunities he never had. In 1909 Hershey and his wife, Catherine, opened the doors of what is now known as the Milton Hershey School, in Hershey, Pennsylvania. In addition to getting a first-rate education, 1,875 kids receive free medical and psychological healthcare, food, clothing, and housing annually. "Children come here because they lack opportunity, not ability," says Andy McCormick, vice president of public affairs at Hershey. Employees mentor the students and hire several as interns, and because the school is partly funded by the company's profits, consumers also contribute to the kids' success.Empowering Women Locally and Globally
Organic skincare company Four Truffles may be a small business, but founder Ana Soriano has made a huge commitment to giving back. For starters, she buys eco-friendly argan oil and shea butter for her bodycare products from female-owned cooperatives in North and West Africa. "Cultivating these ingredients is a major source of income for women there," says Soriano. And even though her Palos Verdes Peninsula, California-based company is a start-up, Soriano donates 10 percent of net sales to local and international charities that help disadvantaged women and children. "It's definitely a financial challenge for us to do this but I'm a big believer in paying it forward," she says.