Christmas Giving Suggestions for 2009
Last year I posted some suggested thoughts for places that could use a little extra help at Christmas time. In that same vein, I'd like to post some suggestions for this year.
Why? Well, truth be told, we as Americans have a bit of a conundrum. We have a lot of people that our culture seems to expect us to give gifts to, but most of them don't really need anything. Seriously, your children's school teachers appreciate the thought, but how many “#1 Teacher” ornaments do they need? And are you getting stressed out about what to give your 2 nd cousin twice removed that you don't even like? I'm not against giving sincere gifts from the heart, but I don't care for giving that's driven by guilt. So, a few suggestions:
#1: For the people that absolutely need to have something given to them (you know, spouses and such):
World Crafts Village: Small businesses that help lift people from poverty, especially in regions of the world that Christians are placed into economic turmoil. A project partially driven by the WMU.
Abba Java: For the Coffee lover in your life! While I like the brand of coffee I usually drink, this company purchases coffee from local growers in Africa, and the profits sustain orphan care. Does it get better than that? Not much, no.
Trade as One: There's a lot of back-and-forth about trade and economics. This isn't the place for that debate, but this I know: we Americans have more wealth than most people in the world. Trade as One is a great place to purchase gifts that support local economies around the world, helping lift people out of poverty. The kind of poverty that prevents people from eating for days or having clean water. Not the kind that requires them to eat off-brand or wear the same clothes twice.
ROWArt: Rivers of the World is an evangelistic Christian missions group, and ROWART is a website where they sell donated artwork and also locally produced items by the people groups that they are working in. The trade allows them freer interaction with the people, the funds keep the missions running, and you get something that few other people have got. How can you lose? I like ROW. I've never bought from ROWArt, but ROW is a group Ann and I have supported.
#2: For the people that don't need anything but a card and to know they're a part of making a difference in the world: (make sure the card expresses genuine thanks to them and the specific project you are helping!): Note: I am linking to the front page of these groups so you can read more about them. They should all have clearly marked “Give” or “Donate” links on the front page if you like what you see.
Rivers of the World: A missions organization that works with whatever people they can find up whatever remote rivers they can get a boat up. Their work at Monkey Point, Nicaragua, last year resulted in the Iranian Army leaving the area. Ben Mathes is a hoot at that.
Wycliffe Bible Translators: Near and dear to our hearts, the mission of Wycliffe is to put the Bible in the native language of people that don't have it. Some of our dearest friends, the Choates, do this. Consider helping Wycliffe in general or their Last Languages emphasis. Wycliffe wants to be out of business in 2025 due to completing their task. Let's help them get there.
Living Water International: Did you know there is, actually, enough water for everyone to have clean, healthy water? It's more about access than supply. And millions die every year because their water is diseased. Let's fix it. Before we buy another bottle of Dasani or Aquafina.
The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering: Really, what kind of Southern Baptist would I be if I didn't bring this up? Contact your local Southern Baptist Church and give to help spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The angels showed up at Christmas to tell. Let's keep telling.
Local children's charities: I like the Arkansas Baptist Children's Homes. You may prefer someone local to you. Or perhaps a Crisis Pregnancy Center like Hope Place in Monticello, Arkansas. Pick one. Help kids. Help women in crisis through a women's shelter.
Contact your local fire department, police department, or National Guard Armory to see what you can do for families of the fallen or deployed.
Make this year about more than just what you get or even what you give your family. Put a true value in the gift. You'll be glad you did. They'll be glad you did. Seriously, the PS3 or the Wii will just be obsolete in a year.