Volcom (Nasdaq: VLCM) has taken up the punk subculture's traditional DIY drive to help the less fortunate. The rebellious skate and surf apparel provider is teaming up with the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) for the second year in a row to recycle jeans and help clothe the needy.

Volcom's Give Jeans a Chance campaign allows customers to drop off a pair of their used jeans (any brand) at participating Volcom stores from Aug. 1 to Sept. 30. Donors will receive a free Volcom hat, pin, or sticker, and entry into a contest for other Volcom prizes. The NCH will then distribute the donated denim to the homeless.

The donation period correlates with the all-important back-to-school shopping season, and I'm betting that Volcom wouldn't mind if denim donors snapped up the jeans it's advertising on the main page of Thrasher magazine website. Incidentally, its V.Co-Logical line of clothing is eco-friendly, so Volcom's making lots of headway in the realm of corporate social responsibility.

Still, Volcom's attempt to lure its customers to shop through their willingness to help is a lot more heartwarming than American Eagle's (NYSE: AEO) recent "try on jeans and get a free phone" campaign. This is how Volcom differentiates itself from rivals, reinforcing its "Youth Against Establishment" branding.  

Many public companies understand the need to give back these days. Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) recently showed its softer side by stepping up its contributions for the hungry. Some companies even have philanthropy built into their corporate missions. Panera (Nasdaq: PNRA) donates unsold baked goods to homeless shelters daily. Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFMI) has many philanthropic programs, including donations to local food banks and shelters and its 5% Days, on which 5% of sales are donated to local nonprofits or educational organizations.

Companies that give back in various ways are not only making the world a better place, but also giving customers inspiring brands they can truly trust. That means investors have even better reasons to believe in those stocks for the long haul. Purpose-driven organizations often make great investments.

What do you think of Volcom's campaign to help its customers help the homeless, or corporate philanthropic initiatives overall? Thrash it out in the comment box below.

Volcom is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation. Wal-Mart is a Motley Fool Inside Value choice. Whole Foods Market is a Stock Advisor selection. The Fool owns shares of Volcom. Try any of our Foolish newsletters free for 30 days.

Alyce Lomax owns shares of Whole Foods Market. The Fool has a disclosure policy.