Cubans warmly welcome gifts however small. Everything you contribute is an overture of friendship – and a great ice-breaker. Cubans lack many basic items we in the United States take for granted.
We strongly advise against handing out gifts or money to individuals you meet on the street. In areas frequented by tourists, professional scammers attempt to fleece foreign guests with sob stories that win them cash or items they can sell on the black market.
We suggest working with a Global Relations Teammate on your donations. This way many Cuban families and communities benefit from your generosity.
Gift giving to your new island friends is a most wonderful gesture. Go for it!
Suggested gifts for your new Cuban friends
- Any and all art supplies
- Musical instruments, guitar strings, reeds for wind instruments
- Metronomes, pitch pipes, tuning forks, sheet music
- Theatre make-up, ballet slippers
- Baseball bats, balls and gloves, footballs, sport helmets and padding
- Aspirin and substitutes, Band-Aids, Multiple vitamins and vitamins A, B, C, D, E
- Medical gloves and masks, medical thermometers
- Condoms, sanitary napkins, tampons, adult diapers and baby diapers
- School supplies, all kinds, toys for children
- Laptop computers no more than four years old
- Spanish/English dictionaries and phrase books
- High quality summer oriented used clothing and shoes
- Sheets and towels
- Kitchen gloves and sponges
- USB memory sticks (favorite)
- Nice chocolates, attractive jewelry
- Cool new T-shirts, caps with neat logos, new sunglasses, hip key chains
- AA batteries! Boring, yes. But they are scarce, costly and appreciated
- Anything you’d give your friends at home
- Reading glasses for elders
Do not bring these items to Cuba
- Fresh food items, live plants or seeds
- Outdated school text books
- Expired medicine or vitamins
- Old or non-functioning computers
- Items considered to be weapons
- Narcotics, pornography