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.

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Adoption, Christmas, Humanitarian

CHRISTMAS :: 18 gifts that matter for #GivingTuesday (and every day)

#GivingTuesday is a terrific opportunity to look up and away from ourselves. Of course, this outlook shouldn’t be confined to just one day a year, but I can’t argue with a movement that encourages us all to reach out. And so, in celebration of Giving Tuesday, here are eighteen different ways to give a gift that gives. A gift that loves. A gift that matters.

For more information about a particular gift, simply click on that photo.

Image Map Provide EDUCATION IN CHINA Provide for FOSTER FAMILIES IN CHINA Provide ORPHAN CARE IN CHINA Provide MEDICAL CARE IN CHINA PROVIDE REFUGEE RELIEF around the world PREVENT human trafficking and exploitation Provide CLEAN WATER around the world FEED A HUNGRY BABY for a week PROTECT vulnerable women Provide WARM COATS AND SHOES CARE FOR Romanian orphans SUPPORT a crisis pregnancy center in Taiwan Sponsor a baby in a TAIWANESE ORPHANAGE Provide SURGERIES for infants and children in China Provide EVERYDAY NECESSITIES for care centers in China Sponsor the EDUCATION of a child in Ethiopia Build a HIGH SCHOOL in Ethiopia Provide a VOCATION for an adult or care for a child

1. Love Without Boundaries | EDUCATION | Provide education and school access to at-risk children in China ($10+)

2.Love Without Boundaries | FOSTER FAMILIES | Provide a family environment through foster care to orphaned and at-risk children in China ($10+)

3.Love Without Boundaries | ORPHAN CARE | Provide access to care, hope and healing to orphaned and impoverished children in China through LWB’s programs ($10+)

4. Love Without Boundaries | MEDICAL CARE | Provide medical care and surgeries to orphans and infants/children whose parents would not otherwise be able to provide care. ($10+)

5. Samaritan’s Purse | REFUGEE RELIEF | Provide tents, heaters, food and more to displaced people ($125+)

6.Samaritan’s Purse | PREVENT HUMAN TRAFFICKING | Provide education in at-risk locations to empower potential victims to recognize and avoid exploitation and trafficking. ($100+)

7. Samaritan’s Purse | CLEAN WATER | Provide a water filtration system to give 3,500 people access to clean water ($20+)

8. 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+)

9. Samaritan’s Purse | ONE WEEK OF FOOD | Provide food for a baby or nursing mother for one week. ($9+)

10. Samaritan’s Purse | CLOTHES & SHOES | Provide warm coats, clothing and footwear to displaced people in refugee camps. ($25+)

11. Anchor of Hope Romania | FOSTER CARE | Provide family-like environments and other vital care for orphans, abandoned babies, and at-risk young people in Romania. (Any amount) To give directly to Christian & Marie Burtt, full-time missionaries serving in Romania with Anchor of Hope, click here.

12. Taiwan Xi En | CRISIS PREGNANCY HOME | Provide nurturing care for infants and expectant mothers at the Taiwan Xi En House of Hope. (Any amount)

13. Taiwan Xi En | SPONSOR A BABY | Provide diapers, formula, clothes, shelter and caring nannies for abandoned and at-risk infants 0-2y at the Taiwan Xi En Orphanage. ($50/mo)

14. Show Hope |  SURGERIES | Provide heart, cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries to orphans and infants/children in China. ($65+)

15. Show Hope | EVERYDAY NECESSITIES | Provide diapers, food, and clean drinking water to the special needs orphans living at the Show Hope care centers in China. ($12+)

16. Adami Tulu + Ziway Project | EDUCATION & FOOD | Provide access to education and nutritious meals for a school-age child in Ethiopia. ($19/mo)

17. Adami Tulu + Ziway Project | HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION | Provide the resources necessary to build a high school so the Adami Tulu + Ziway students can continue their education. (Any amount) Or, donate in honor of a loved one, and send a card to a friend! ($20+)

18. Lifesong for Orphans | WHERE MOST NEEDED | Provide life-giving care for children, and sustainable micro-business opportunities for adults, in Bolivia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Ethiopia, Liberia, Zambia, Cambodia, India and Ukraine. On #GivingTuesday [2 December 2014] only, your gift to Lifesong for Orphans will be multiplied 4x through a matching grant when you give using this link. (Any amount)


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Adoption, Humanitarian, Poetry & Words

POETRY & WORDS :: I was a stranger & you invited me in

Image Credit: LifeSong for Orphans - Zambia Children's Choir / Celebrate Life Concert Tour
Image Credit: LifeSong for Orphans – Zambia Children’s Choir / Celebrate Life Concert Tour

Last night, I sat in a church and listened to Zambian children sing. And I heard something I’ve never heard before. No, not the sound of a drum sans drumsticks, not the sound of the soaring notes. 

Actually, it wasn’t a song at all.

Each of the kids — students at the Lifesong for Orphans school in Zambia — shared their favorite school subjects, dreams, and favorite passages of Scripture. It was an endearingly real moment — stuttering, laughter, forgetting words. One girl recited Psalm 23 from beginning to end, another quoted Romans.

But then it was the smallest boy’s turn to speak. And he leaned into to the microphone and looked into the crowd. “My favorite verse is Matthew 35 verse 25”, he said in halting English. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”

Oh, my heart!

It’s one of those verses we’ve read a hundred times, isn’t it? But honestly? When was the last time you heard a friend say it was their favorite verse? It’s a passage we’re familiar with, but not a passage we’re accustomed to seeing highlighted and memorized and repeated and claimed as a personal promise and emblazoned on t-shirts and bookmarks and greeting cards.

But this is Jesus. This is real. He’s among us — feeding, loving, caring, doing.

Sometimes, I think we lose that connection between Jesus-the-Ethereal-Being and Jesus-the-Man. I think we lose the connection between hypothetical love and practical, get-your-hands-dirty, work-hard love. We over-spiritualize it. We complicate it and organize it and delegate it and analyze it and create ministries for it and philosophize about it and invent words about it.

But it was a real, I’m-right-there-with-you, here-is-a-meal, here-is-a-bed  kind of love that spoke to this boy’s heart.

It’s what Jesus’ love,
made human
and tangible
and touchable
and present, looks like.

And I never want to forget it.

“Sometimes the best way to bring good news to the poor is to bring actual good news to the poor. It appears a good way to bring relief to the oppressed is to bring real relief to the oppressed. It’s almost like Jesus meant what He said. When you’re desperate, usually the best news you can receive is food, water, shelter. These provisions communicate God’s presence infinitely more than a tract or Christian performance in the local park. They convey, ‘God loves you so dearly, He sent people to your rescue.'” -Jen Hatmaker