This time of year, we as Western media consumers face an immeasurable array of choices - particularly when it comes to how we will choose to spend the money we've worked hard to earn. With the frenzied media emphasis on spending and an near constant barrage of advertisements, sales, and special deals, its all too easy to forget why we are buying gifts in the first place. Christmas is at its core, a celebration of the day that Jesus was born on the earth. The celebration of the beginning of his life on earth can be and is celebrated in all kinds of ways, and I think a brilliant way is to meet the needs of the world's poorest and most marginalized people in the name of someone you love. That is exactly what we intend to do this year.
I wanted to highlight three international organizations that make it easy to participate in giving communities of the world sustainable food sources, income streams, access to better nutrition, health care, education, clean water, and fuel. So here are my three favorites:
Heifer International began in 1944, when the organization's founder, Dan West, decided that providing a family with a source of food and income was a far better and more sustainable way to help a needy family, and in turn, their entire community. Heifer provides all kinds of animals to families - but not without preparing them with training on how to properly feed, shelter, care for, and breed their cows, goats, camels, sheep, chickens, rabbits, even water buffalo (!) Before an animal is delivered to a family, a proper pen and shelter is built, and the family commits to "pass on the gift" to their neighbors through the animals' offspring. And all animals are carefully chosen for the areas they are sent to, ensuring the best chance of survival for the animals and the best fit for the environment. Check out all the gift options here.
Oxfam is an international relief and development organization that works to end poverty by helping people and communities overcome it. Working in over 90 countries around the world, Oxfam is a totally independent organization that accepts no funding from governments so that they can carry on in their vision without compromise.
There is so much hope in the faces of this family. I love seeing that! Through their gift catalog, you can provide animals, books, education, gardens, water pumps, building restoration and a day's wage. See all the gifts available on Oxfam's gift page.
Compassion International is one of the leaders in Child Sponsorship, which is a model I wholeheartedly support. Through child sponsorship, families vulnerable to separation because of poverty can stay together, and the child's unique needs are addressed. I can imagine the relief it must be to parents to have such direct help in meeting their children's basic needs, ensuring they receive an education, access to proper nutrition, health care, and individual love and support from a local church personally acquainted with them. With Compassion International, the opportunity to sponsor a child with an ongoing donation of $38 per month is a great way to extend a Christmas gift throughout the year while getting to know a particular child. They also have a one-time gift catalog with options that range from mosquito nets to emergency meals to HIV tests and career guidance. Choose a compassion gift here.
There you have it - three exceptional organizations to help facilitate meaningful Christmas gifts. I'm quite sure that I've missed dozens of other amazing ones - so tell me, who are your favorite charitable organizations?