Gifts was first introduced in September and is the social network’s first jump into the exchange of physical goods. It’s Gifts predecessor was an icon exchange system, where people would buy or earn a $1 teddy bear, flowers, heart-shaped icon and send it to a friend. After awhile, people became bored with the digital goods and stopped using it, but the model still works. Now, users can buy a real teddy bear, send it to a friend, who will confirm the gift and enter shipping information.
But in situations like Hurricane Sandy, which ripped through Northeastern states in the U.S. this week, Gifts could prove to be another avenue for donating. If a friend’s basement was flooded, or car was destroyed by a fallen tree, you could “gift” them a donation to the Red Cross or another organization.
Facebook partnered with a number of these organizations right off the bat. These include the American Red Cross, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, DonorsChoose.org, Kiva, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, and Water.org.
Not everyone has the Gifts feature yet, however, so you might have to be patient before you can start using the service. There are a number of other ways you can help with Hurricane Sandy relief, however, including donations through eBay, iTunes (as mentioned before), and good old text messages. Text 90999 to give $10 to the Red Cross.