1. World Vision, Compassion International and Heifer International
'Come, you who are blessed by my Father.Matthew 25:34-41
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.'
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'
And the king will say to them in reply,
'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Every year our parish has an "Angel tree" where parishioners choose an "Angel" from it. On the angel is a boy or girls name, his/her age and his/her Christmas list. These children are from another parish in DC and come from a family who cannot provide gifts for their children. We had participated in this for several years, but stopped. One year, it just became unsettling. We live on a tight budget. Our own kids do not get extravagant gifts. But, a few years ago, as I poured over the "Angels" on the tree and read the list of gifts the children wanted, I was frustrated: ipod, Wii, Nintendo, brand new bike, Converse sneakers . . . you get the idea. These were expensive gifts that were well beyond what we would even spend on our own children. And here are "needy" children who were not just asking for a gift, but asking for, what I considered a frivolous gift. So we stopped choosing an Angel. We decided to donate our money in other ways.
And this year, I found it ironic that the above scripture from Matthew was the Gospel reading the day our parish announced that the "Angel trees" were up and to "please choose a child." It was as if God was pointing me in a different direction. We live in a very privileged society, but there are families in our own nation and around the world that are truly in need. They
want need something more important than an ipod for Christmas. There are families that need food. Children that need clothing. Parents who cannot afford to send their children to school. There is a genuine need out there and, this year, I felt convicted to put our resources toward filling that true need.
So, I have complied a list of amazing ways to give. Organizations that use the money to feed families, clothe families, and send children to school. As a bonus, many of these organizations have products that you can actually buy and give as gifts to those on your Christmas list! So check them all out!
All three of these organizations have Christmas catalogues (linked above) in which you can buy a needy family items such as chickens, ducks, cows, seeds for planting, etc. I love this idea! We have sponsored a child through World Vision for the last several years and just love the organization and all the work they do!
2. Give Jewelry -
This organization sells AMAZING bracelets. And the purchase of just 1 bracelet feeds 1 child for 1 week! These bracelets are beautiful and make great gifts! (A full post coming on Give soon!)
3. 147 Million Orphans -
This organization was started by two moms who wanted to make a difference. They have a whole line of apparel, bags, Ugandan bead jewelry, etc and all of the profits go toward helping orphans around the world. I got this shirt for my birthday and I love it!!
4. Amazima Ministries
A non-profit started by Katie Davis, Author of Kisses from Katie. If you have not read this book or heard Katie's story, you have to!! She is a young woman who decided to go to Uganda for a year after she graduated high school and has never left. She is now in her early 20's, has adopted 13 girls, and has started Amazima Ministries to help get Ugandan children the education, food, and spiritual developments they need. Amazima Ministries sells Ugandan Bead Necklaces to help raise funds.
(Please take what I wrote for just as it is: I am in no way saying that parishes should not do Angel Trees, or individuals should not buy a new bike for a needy child. I am just saying our family has been led in a different direction.)