Christmas, Humanitarian

20 Charitable Christmas Gift Ideas That Make a Difference

20 Charitable Christmas Gift Ideas That Make a Difference, for #GIVINGTUESDAY and Everyday (via Oaxacaborn.com)
Are you tired of spending money on Christmas gifts just because it’s the holiday season? Have you ever wondered why you go through all the motions of Christmas shopping  — when most of your recipients already have everything they’ll ever need? (If you’re reading this blog post, you’re probably rich. No, really. I mean it. You are wealthy. If you make $30,000 USD per year, you’re in the top 1.23% richest people in the world by income. Go ahead, try out the Global Rich List calculator.)

While I think we should embrace a generous lifestyle all year round, I love the idea of #GivingTuesday, one day specifically specifically set aside to celebrate giving. And this Giving Tuesday, I’ve put together a list of my top twenty most favorite initiatives to support, from right here in America, to Ethiopia, China, Romania, Ukraine, Zambia and more.

20 Gifts that Matter, for #GIVINGTUESDAY and Everyday (via Oaxacaborn.com)1. Love Without Boundaries | EDUCATION | Provide education and school access to at-risk children in China ($10+), including children who would not otherwise have the opportunity to attend. Love in Action card available to the gift recipient of your choosing.

20 Gifts that Matter, for #GIVINGTUESDAY and Everyday (via Oaxacaborn.com)2. Love Without Boundaries | FAMILY PRESERVATION (UNITY FUND) | Keep impoverished families together and prevent orphans by donating money for much-needed medical care. This initiative helps parents who would otherwise face the excruciating option of placing the child in a care center to receive medical attention. ($10+). Love in Action card available to the gift recipient of your choosing.

20 Gifts that Matter, for #GIVINGTUESDAY and Everyday (via Oaxacaborn.com)
3. Love Without Boundaries | FOSTER FAMILIES | Throughout China, foster families have opened their hearts and homes to orphaned and at-risk children who would otherwise reside in an orphanage setting.  This initiative helps these willing families provide a family environment ($10+),with the option to send a Love in Action card to the gift recipient of your choosing.

20 Gifts that Matter, for #GIVINGTUESDAY and Everyday (via Oaxacaborn.com)t
4. Love Without Boundaries | MEDICAL CARE | In conjunction with Family Preservation (the Unity Fund), this initiative provides medical care and surgeries to orphans and infants/children whose parents would not otherwise be able to provide care ($10+). Love in Action card available to the gift recipient of your choosing.

20 Gifts that Matter, for #GIVINGTUESDAY and Everyday (via Oaxacaborn.com)5. Love Without Boundaries | NUTRITION |  Medical fragile children often have special dietary requirements. This initiative helps provide healing nourishment and provide proper nutrition ($10+). Love in Action card available to the gift recipient of your choosing.

20 Gifts that Matter, for #GIVINGTUESDAY and Everyday (via Oaxacaborn.com)6. Samaritan’s Purse | REFUGEE RELIEF | This organization actively works on the ground, providing immediate assistance to refugees where they are. Donate to provide desperately-needed tents, heaters, food and more to displaced people ($125+). Honor Cards may be selected at checkout and sent to the gift recipient of your choosing.

20 Gifts that Matter, for #GIVINGTUESDAY and Everyday (via Oaxacaborn.com)7. Samaritan’s Purse | WARM CLOTHING & FOOD | Winter is in full force, and disaster victims, refugees seeking shelter, and at-risk children all need to stay warm and dry. This initiative provides winter coats and warm shoes ($25+). Honor Cards may be selected at checkout and sent to the gift recipient of your choosing.

20 Gifts that Matter, for #GIVINGTUESDAY and Everyday (via Oaxacaborn.com)8. Samaritan’s Purse | CLEAN WATER | It’s something most of us take for granted, but without access to clean water, people die from preventable diseases. Donate to provide a water filtration system to give 3,500 people access to clean water ($20+). Honor Cards may be selected at checkout and sent to the gift recipient of your choosing.

20 Gifts that Matter, for #GIVINGTUESDAY and Everyday (via Oaxacaborn.com)9. Samaritan’s Purse | PROTECT VULNERABLE WOMEN | Provide literacy classes, maternal/child health education, protection and support for victims of gender-based violence, and more ($30+). Honor Cards may be selected at checkout and sent to the gift recipient of your choosing.

20 Gifts that Matter, for #GIVINGTUESDAY and Everyday (via Oaxacaborn.com)

10. Samaritan’s Purse | OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD| For the last two decades, Operation Christmas Child has delivered shoeboxes full of gifts, hygiene items and school supplies to more than one hundred million children around the globe. National Collection Week is over, but you can still go online and pack a virtual shoebox ($25), pay for the cost of shipping an existing box ($7),  or send an e-card to a gift recipient so he/she can build a box online ($25).

20 Gifts that Matter, for #GIVINGTUESDAY and Everyday (via Oaxacaborn.com)11. Anchor of Hope Romania | FOSTER CARE | This on-the-ground organization provides family-like environments and other vital care for orphans, abandoned children, and at-risk young people in Romania (any $ amount). To give directly to Christian & Marie Burtt, my friends who are full-time missionaries with Anchor of Hope, click here.

20 Gifts that Matter, for #GIVINGTUESDAY and Everyday (via Oaxacaborn.com)12. Taiwan Xi En | HOUSE OF HOPE NURSERY | The Taiwan Xi En organization provide crisis pregnancy services for expectant mothers and nurturing care for surrendered and at-risk infants ages 0-2y in Kaohsiung, Taiwan (any $ amount),

20 Gifts that Matter, for #GIVINGTUESDAY and Everyday (via Oaxacaborn.com)13. Taiwan Xi En | SPONSOR A BABY | Commit to the care of a surrendered or at-risk infant ages 0-2y at the Taiwan Xi En Orphanage in Kaohsiung, Taiwan by providing diapers, formula, clothes, shelter and caring nannies ($50/mo).

20 Gifts that Matter, for #GIVINGTUESDAY and Everyday (via Oaxacaborn.com)14. Show Hope |  SURGERIES & MEDICAL CARE | Founded by Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife Mary beth, Show Hope runs several care centers in China dedicated to providing loving care — and medical help — to special needs orphans. The surgery initiative provides heart, cleft lip/palate, and other essential surgeries ($100-$10,000), while the medical care initiative ensures children receive special formula, wheelchairs, therapy, hospital care and more ($25-$1,980).

20 Gifts that Matter, for #GIVINGTUESDAY and Everyday (via Oaxacaborn.com)

15. Show Hope | EVERYDAY NECESSITIES | Each day, caring for children at the Show Hope care centers requires simple items like diapers, food, and clean drinking water. While we may take these items for granted, you can help pay for these everyday necessities ($12-$546).
20 Gifts that Matter, for #GIVINGTUESDAY and Everyday (via Oaxacaborn.com)16. Show Hope | ADOPTION AID | Did you know more than one-third of all Americans have considered adoption, but only 2% have actually adopted? The overwhelming cost is often the biggest obstacle these families face. Show Hope’s Adoption Aid initiative assists adopting families, to overcome the financial hurdle and place children in permanent homes ($35-$5,000).

20 Gifts that Matter, for #GIVINGTUESDAY and Everyday (via Oaxacaborn.com)17. Adami Tulu + Ziway Project | SPONSOR EDUCATION & MEALS | I personally know some of the people in leadership at the Adami Tulu school in Ethiopia, and have supported this wonderful organization by sponsoring a child since 2011. Each child who attends the Adami Tulu school receives not only an education but also two meals per day ($34/mo). One of the best parts? 100% is spent in Ethiopia on education, and ZERO on US administration.

20 Gifts that Matter, for #GIVINGTUESDAY and Everyday (via Oaxacaborn.com)18. Adami Tulu + Ziway Project | WHERE MOST NEEDED | Provide the resources necessary to expand school buildings, provide hot meals, and continue to provide education ($30-$1,000). Tuition at the school is just $1.50/month, but only 30% of students’ families can afford the tuition.

20 Gifts that Matter, for #GIVINGTUESDAY and Everyday (via Oaxacaborn.com)19. Lifesong for Orphans | SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS | Lifesong for Orphans’s work with adults in Ukraine and Zambia isn’t a one-time handout, but instead creates income opportunities for adults. Help provide self-sustaining businesses, like the strawberry farm shown above, with your gift of any $ amount. Select “Sustainable Business” from the dropdown.

20 Gifts that Matter, for #GIVINGTUESDAY and Everyday (via Oaxacaborn.com)20. Lifesong for Orphans | THE FORGOTTEN INITIATIVE | In the United States, a quarter of a million children enter the foster care system each year. And each year, 20,000 foster children age out without ever finding permanent families or homes. These children don’t have to be forgotten. Get involved, or donate. You can even specify that your monetary gift go to a local community near you when you select your area from the “The Forgotten Initiative Gift Preference”/”TFI Project Specific” dropdown menu here.

Adoption, Humanitarian, Inspiration

ADOPTION :: 1.1 Million Diapers

Show Hope to Orphans | 1.1 Million Diapers | Give Diapers Now!

I’ve metioned Show Hope a few times before (see 18 Gifts for Giving Tuesday and A Cure for First World Problems). Founded by Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, Show Hope runs several care centers in China dedicated to providing loving care — and medical help — to special needs orphans. The care centers go through more than a million diapers each year!

Let’s help Show Hope stock the diaper cupboards —

  • $30 for one package
  • $60 for two packages (choose this option and a donor will fund an additional package in your name!)
  • $90 for three packages/one case
  • $180 for six packages/two cases (choose this option and you’ll receive original artwork from the kids one of Show Hope’s care centers!)

Give Diapers Now

Show Hope Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

Adoption, Humanitarian, Inspiration

ADOPTION :: The Drop Box Film (Korean Pastor Lee Jong-rak’s Baby Box) in Theatres March 3, 4, 5

The Drop Box Film // in theaters nationwide March 3, 4, 5 | Adoption, Korea
Image Credit: The Drop Box Film

I remember when I first read a news article about Lee Jong-rak, the South Korean pastor who built a small street-facing deposit box on the front of his home.  On a sign on the front of the box, Pastor Lee wrote, “This is a facility for the protection of life. If you can’t take care of your disabled babies, don’t throw them away or leave them on the street. Bring them here.”

And people did. People brought babies there.

In the night, in the dark, in the cold, in the heat, in the spring, in the winter, in all hours and times in between.

Since 2009, people have placed more than six hundred babies there.

The Drop Box Film - Arbella Studios Photo
Image Credit: Arbella Studios

Six hundred.

There’s something about this baby box — something about Pastor Lee’s reckless, wild, all-in, risk-everything love — that won’t let go of my heart.  Of course the baby box is not the answer to all the issues, to all the problems, to all the hurts and wrongs in the world.

But the drop box is life to the one child who is placed there. “The babies that come to me,” says Pastor Lee, “are the ones who’d otherwise die.”

And now the story of Pastor Lee, the story of these children, will be in theaters across the United States on March 3, 4 and 5.

See a list of theaters near you playing The Drop Box Film: check show times and purchase tickets.

Website | The Drop Box Film  // Facebook // Twitter // Buy Tickets

Give Diapers, Bottles, Hope, and more to Pastor Lee's Drop Box Babies

P.S. You can give diapers, formula, wet wipes, bottles, straws, cups, clothes and more to Pastor Lee’s drop box babies! Read more about the Kindred Image Boxes of Hope project.

Adoption, Poetry & Words

POETRY & WORDS :: A cure for #firstworldproblems

We all need something to keep our priorities in order. Something to keep us grounded, for lack of a better word, something to prevent us from wallowing in our #firstworldproblems.

Sometimes, all it takes is to stop focusing on ourselves. I’m preaching to myself here. My daily complaints do NOT constitute suffering.

Not when Naghmeh Abedini has to tell us this about her husband, Saeed [Saeed Abedini is an American citizen from Utah, imprisoned in Iran for his faith.]

Not when these sixty-seven people have nothing left.

Not when I have a family to call my own, and this girl (shown below) has none.

adriana2

Almost every day, a story about a child lands in my inbox, and every time, I read it. Not because I love sad things. Not because I want to have pity. But because the broken parts of this world will never change if we’re too busy holed up in our comfortable little havens. Because the broken pieces will never be picked up if we’re too busy creating ourselves a safe little bubble.

I want to look up. I want to look outward. I want to make a difference.

Because every child matters.

RESOURCES a.k.a. a partial list of the blogs and newsletters I read.

Gladney Center for Adoption’s Waiting Child (Blog)
Subscribe by Email: Click here and you will see the subscription field in the upper right hand corner of your screen

* Taiwan Xi En (Website) 
Subscribe by Email: Click here; only the red ’email’ field is required

*Bringing Hope to Children (Facebook)
Subscribe by Email: Click here

* Show Hope (Website)
Subscribe by Email: Click here

* And of course, the Ziway + Adami Tulu Project in partnership with Lifesong for Orphans — the organization through we which we sponsor children.

Adoption

ADOPTION :: “I am not ‘for’ international adoption. I am not against it.”

Artist_Hands_WEB

“Philosophize eloquently about how children are better left in their native cultures and I will tell you from shared experience that children in orphanages do not live the culture of their country, but the culture of an alternate reality that only exists in institutions…

I am not ‘for’ international adoption. I am not against it. I am ‘for’ children having loving parents and being in homes where they have a support network. I am against children growing up in dormitories with change-out caregivers. I am against children being left without help simply because a legal definition of adulthood, in whichever country we are talking about, has been reached. ” -John M. Simmons

READ MORE from Why the Decline in International Adoptions on the Huffington Post

Adoption, Poetry & Words

POETRY & WORDS :: The Hague Convention is not Enough

If you’re friends with me on my personal Facebook account, I know, I’m sorry. I’ve been over all this before. But when I saw the positive reaction online to the news this morning — Japan just became the 91st country to ratify the Hague Convention — I’ve decided I need to talk about it here, too.

Because it matters.

I’m not going to talk about whether or not there were good intentions behind the Hague Convention in the beginning. I’m going to talk about now.

We’ve seen it over and over and over again: the Convention adds an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy and red tape to the countries which ratify the treaty. It piles on the list of requirements, and in many cases the countries don’t have the infrastructure, the funding or the ability to comply with the new regulations. And in the wake of the Hague Convention — not always, but often — international adoptions grind to a near-halt.

Take a look at the Hague Convention’s complicated legacy in Guatemala.



I don’t have the answers, but I know there’s more to international child advocacy than the Hague Convention.  It’s not enough to push a nation to ratify, and then walk away.

If you want to take a more in-depth look at the way the international adoption system is broken, I’d highly recommend watching the STUCK documentary.  (At the time of this post, you can stream STUCK for free if you have a Netflix account. If you don’t have a way to access Netflix, email me, and I can send you a different link to stream the film.)

Adoption, Poetry & Words

POETRY & WORDS :: How do I Defend the Orphan When I’m Not Gladys Aylward?

“Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” -Isaiah 1:17.

Every time I read this verse, I’m struck by its straightforwardness. And every time, it tears me up inside. Defend the orphan. How?

Deep down, I want to be Gladys Aylward and take a hundred children to safety. I want to just run out to the edges of the world now and scoop up all the waiting children and take them home — all of them.

Still Image from The Inn of the Sixth Happiness

It tears me up inside that I can’t.

I feel so helpless. I feel like I’m not doing anything, and that’s a torturous feeling when every fiber of my being knows it’s wrong to do nothing.

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:17)

How can I do that?

A few weeks ago, after attending One Hundred Million Reasons to Celebrate, I was broken yet again by this burden. Several of the speakers there had been adopted out of orphanages, and as they shared, God asked me again, “How are you going to be my hands and feet?”

I don’t know the answer to that question yet. All I know is that I’ve been unable to ignore it. I can’t get it out of my mind. “Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute.” (Psalm 82:3)

While I continue to wrestle with the “how?”, I’ve been trying to help my friends the Jensen’s on their adoption journey.

And so there are 140+ auction items being bid on right this minute, and every dollar goes towards to the Jensen adoption fund.

Would you consider bidding, and sharing the auction link on Facebook, Twitter, or even your blog? It runs through May 6.  We can’t all be Gladys Aylward, but we can all help the Jensens bring one orphan home.

We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God.” -John Stott