For Christmas this year -- would you rather someone honor you by trying to make the world a better place, or get a widget? Eight out of ten people would rather a donation be made to a meaningful charity in their name.
Maybe you’d like to give a goat as a gift. Or a cow. Perhaps a herd of cows. A number of top charities, many of them run by Christian organizations, have become very sophisticated in catching people’s imagination through their glossy catalogues and savvy websites.
The website World Vision says: “Our faith in Jesus is central to who we are, and we follow His example in working alongside the poor and oppressed.”
“World Vision’s goal is to bring well-being to children and development to communities all over the world,” Amy Parodi, Domestic News Director of World Vision tells KTRH News. “We do that through emergency relief and response, work in chronically poor communities, and through advocacy.”
Parodi says in their gift catalogue you can select from hundreds of gifts ranging from farm animals, to shares of a water well, to training, to protection of women and girls at risk of being trafficked. A donation will bring a card to your mailbox that you can present to someone on your gift list.
Heiffer International (heifer.org) was founded by Dan West, a Christian aid worker who went to the front lines during the Spanish Civil War. He found offering a cup of milk to weary soldiers would be improved if he could give them a cow. Today they give a lot of cows, and goats, and water buffaloes and hundreds of other choices.
Samaritan’s Purse (samaritan’spurse.org) provides disaster relief, life-saving medical programs, a safe sanctuary for orphaned Haitian children, and so, so much more. Since 1993 more than 100-million children in over 130 countries have received “shoeboxes,” which contain basic hygiene items like soap and toothbrushes, a washcloth, toys, colored crayons, coloring books and various sundry items. The giver can go online and select the items to be placed in “their” shoebox. An “honor card” will be sent to give as a present. Jim Loscheider, V.P. of Donor Ministries, says the volunteers who pack the boxes pray over each one so that the supreme and powerful gift of prayer is always included. He tells the story about the time shoeboxes were being handed out to impoverished children at a school in Kosovo. It was in the late ‘90’s, after the war, at Christmastime in the winter. The shoeboxes were organized by gender and age group and were passed out randomly.
“It was cold, and there was one little boy who didn’t have a coat,” Loscheider recounts. “His box was a little bit bigger than the others. He opened the box and then closed it. Franklin [Graham, President and Chairman of the Board of Samaritan’s Purse] was there, and went over and encouraged him to open the box. And in that box was a leather bomber jacket that fit him perfectly. The only child in the room without a coat and it was like divinely appointed for that little boy.”
You can give that kind of gift, and that kind of Christmas meaning.