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A company founded by three Carolina sophomores creates a new way to give this holiday season.

CommuniGift is an online platform that connects sponsoring needy families with holiday shopping. The site, which launched this month, allows users to adopt and sponsor disadvantaged families, while also purchasing gifts for their own family and friends. Incorporating giving through gifting, advertising revenue earned through gift purchases is used to support more struggling families.

“We wanted to create a website that not only caters to those intending to give, but also provides a way of giving while fulfilling everyday shopping needs,” says co-founder Taylor Sharp.  “CommuniGift was the solution.”

CommuniGift:Adopt helps donors find families in need around the country, allowing users to filter families by various descriptions. Donors will see the wish list of each family member and can purchase gifts from the site. Families are added to CommuniGift through partnerships with reputable nonprofit organizations.

“From tracking down a reputable nonprofit to purchasing and delivering the gifts, the process of adopting a family offline can take weeks,” says co-founder Thomas Doochin. “Through purchasing gifts on our website, donors can directly support a family, facilitating the most transparent giving on the web. We’re the first site that makes it this simple and efficient to adopt a family.”

CommuniGift:Shop organizes group giving, providing a platform for family members and friends to share wish list items. CommuniGift expands on the current service of sharing holiday wishlists online by allowing members of the gift registry to directly purchase the items through Gifts already purchased are removed from the wish list, ensuring that users never receive the same gift twice. Through a partnership with Amazon, a percentage of all products purchased will sponsor more families on CommuniGift:Adopt.

CommuniGift was founded by UNC students Jake Bernstein, Doochin and Sharp. The CommuniGift team has moved from work space in a residence hall room to 1789 Venture Lab, an incubator space in Chapel Hill.

Published December 9, 2013.