You may have already finished your Christmas shopping. If so, congratulations for your organizational skills! If not, there are ways to help others as you buy gifts for those people who have everything and really don’t want anything. My parents got to that stage of their lives and were unable to use the ever-practical restaurant gift cards. My solution? I think I bought them a goat. I can’t quite remember….maybe it was a llama. How could I forget the specifics of such a gift? They didn’t have to feed it (which made my dad happy)......I had given a goat (or llama) in their name to Heifer International to help families around the world earn a living.
This year, I shopped at Crossroads Handcrafts of the World right here in Downtown Bloomington. I chose gifts that were appropriate for the person for whom I was shopping, and also gave back to the persons who made them. I love being able to support those who are trying so hard to support themselves!
Those are just 2 examples, both offering tangible support. (I wish I would have thought to include a toy goat or llama in my gift to my parents…..that would have been a nice connecting gift.) This was given through Heifer International, which offers many more options for helping people around the world.
I’m sure the many of you get many requests in the mail, e-mail, or by phone all the time for supporting particular charities. It can get very overwhelming. I can’t answer questions about all of them, but I can give you some ideas from the ones I do know about who help others while blessing your gift receiver.
- Fair Trade stores everywhere…..even online. Just search ‘fair trade’ and you’ll see the options.
- United Methodist Committee on Relief: if you’d like to help those affected by wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes or other natural disasters, this might be of interest to you.
- Local places like The Baby Fold, Home Sweet Home Mission, or any number of other places in our community who address human need.
- United Methodist Missions: go to UMCmission.org, then ‘give to mission’, then ‘search for projects’ and you’re certain to find that special project that connects to that special person in your life.
- Have a teacher gift to find? How about purchasing a teacher or student school bag kit for the Midwest Mission Distribution Center in Chatham, IL? http://midwestmissiondc.org/projects/projects
These are just a few suggestions and I know you could come up with your own list at least this long. There’s no shame in shopping the ‘usual’ places, of course. Those places also provide jobs. However, if you have parents like mine were, or teacher gifts like I struggled with, or other kinds of conundrums, maybe the above suggestions will help as we help our neighbors throughout the world.
About the Author
Debbie Reese is the Co-Directing Pastor of Calvary UMC