Thursday, November 13, 2008

All I Want for Christmas is a Goat (or a Cow or a Sheep…)

Christmas is coming and the lists are being made. Shopping has taken on a whole new frenzy this year, as retailers compete for limited consumer dollars. What to get for each person on your shopping list may be causing you sleepless nights or wallet-wincing. I have a solution for those tough-to-buy-for folks.

Over the last few months, I’ve come to realize just how much non-essential “stuff” I have. Moving cross-country will certainly open your eyes to the size of your household inventory in a hurry! I have pretty much everything I need, and then some. So this year, I don’t want any gifts for me. Instead, I want gifts for the world – gifts that can make a difference in someone’s life rather than just a hole in the giver’s bank account.

Any number of organizations offer catalogs of gifts you can give in someone’s name to help meet needs in various parts of the world. Here are a few I know about, although not an all-inclusive list by any means.

World Vision – The World Vision gift catalog ranges from gifts under $30 (for example, two ducks for $12) to $500 or more. Give a cow, a well, a small business loan, or even a cash gift to be used where needed. Or give yourself a gift by sponsoring a child on an on-going basis. I promise you’ll never be the same again.

Save the Children - Save the Children’s gift catalog begins at $25 (a cash donation) to $30,000 (helping build a school in Mali). Once again, we are talking about gifts to change lives, including the possibility of sponsoring a child.

United Nations Children’s Fund - A donation to UNICEF may work in many areas, all based on helping children. The US website offers a series of gifts which give you something to wrap but also benefit the programs sponsored by UNICEF. Looking for a Gucci bag? You can help children while you go stylishly on with your gift-giving.

Mission Aviation Fellowship – MAF operates the planes that get the missionaries and health care professionals to remote locations. The increase in fuel costs is really hurting them. You can help by purchasing a gift from their gift shop; a portion of the proceeds goes to support the work of MAF. T-shirts, mugs and other gifts are there, and of course, donations are accepted as well.

Christian Children’s Fund - The CCF “Gifts of Love and Hope” catalog offers opportunities from $6 (cough medicine for a child) on up and promises to never be out of stock!

Just Give – These folks have perhaps the most inventive gift of all – charity gift cards that allow the recipient to choose the charity themselves! On this site you can look up various organizations or set up a fund for your favorite charity. When folks ask where you’re registered, you can tell them “at Just Give.”

Don't forget organizations in your own locale - there are needs at home as well as abroad.

While this list is short, the list of needs worldwide is not. I’ve spotlighted the handful I know. As we are blessed, let us bless others. The important thing is to find a need and do a part to fill it, to make a difference with a gift that won’t be too large, too small, too heavy. These are gifts guaranteed to be appreciated by the person whose life you touch. What more can you ask of a Christmas gift?

© 2008 Mary Beth Magee