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
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 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 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
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
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 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 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 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 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 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

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 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 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 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 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

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 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 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 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 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 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, Theology

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


“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, Theology

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

Adoption, Inspiration

INSPIRATION :: Update on the Adoption Fundraising Auction (to be hosted on Mom’s Best Network!)

How Can I Help Orphans - How Can I Help People Who Want to Adopt - Adoption Fundraiser - Adoption Fundraiser Auction

Tina, my friend who’s adopting from Ethiopia, has been messaging me little updates as she moves along in the process, and let me tell you — my eyes have not been dry. I can’t share specifics, but God’s provision in every step has been nothing short of miraculous. God just keeps answering prayers. Part of me is in complete speechless awe, and part of me just says, “Yup, that’s my Jesus!”

While I can’t share the little personal details (the adoption is still mid-process), I can tell you Mom’s Best Network has generously agreed to host a fundraising auction for the Jensens! The auction will be held on the Mom’s Best Network Facebook page, May 1-6!

This is really big news, as the Mom’s Best Network platform will provide fantastic publicity and a far greater reach than I would be able to offer personally — it’s so thrilling and truly an answer to prayer!  There will be all kinds of fantastic items up for auction, and all proceeds will go to the Jensens — I encourage you to go like the page now so you don’t miss the auction when it happens!

Can I ask you to share this information with anyone you know who has a heart for adoption?

Or perhaps you’re a brand, a shop, or a handmade vendor, and you want to donate an item. It’s free publicity and link-back for you, and it’s EVERYTHING for one little child. You won’t even have to ship your item until later, when we contact you with the winning bidder’s shipment information.

Just email me (oaxacaborn at the following information:

• A photograph of the item(s) you wish to donate to the auction
• A brief description of the item(s)
• The starting bid amount(s) in $ USD (usually the retail value)
• Links to your Facebook page, website, and/or shop
• Your name and the best email address to reach you

(A few technical details — the bidding process will occur online, on the Mom’s Best Network Facebook page. Bids will be in the form of comments on the product photo. When the auction ends on May 6th, we will contact the winning bidder to obtain shipping information, and will then pass the mailing address on to you. And if you’d like to read more about the Jensen family, you can peruse their personal blog here.)

You guys, I’m believing that God will use this auction to provide far above and beyond what the Jensen’s need to complete this adoption. I know, I’m dreamin’ BIG here. But I believe. Tina was telling me yesterday, “I want to share with families that feel led that it [adoption] can be done even with our income. God provides so much and usually not the way you think!”

Let’s see what happens! Who else is excited?! Now let’s go share this post! ;)

Handmade, Humanitarian, Inspiration

HANDMADE :: The Adami Tulu Project, or, How I’m Sponsoring a Child in Ethiopia with One Etsy Sale Per Month

I first heard about the Adami Tulu Project through friends who volunteer for the organization, and who had recently traveled to Ethiopia to work with Adami Tulu school. I hadn’t checked out the website, though, until this afternoon.

Children at the Adami Tulu School

As I was browsing through the pages of children awaiting sponsorship, I read the following:

…Your sponsorship cost is only $19 per month – some 37% less expensive than most programs – and 100% of that money (after PayPal fees) goes into the field, spent on the costs of Adami Tulu School. 0% goes to US administration.

And I thought to myself, “Nineteen dollars. That’s less than what I charge for ONE hat in my Etsy shop. I’d only have to sell ONE hat each month to sponsor an Ethiopian child.”

All afternoon and into the evening, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I kept talking to God about it, and kept thinking about it. (Anytime I think too hard about orphans, and little kids needing love and food and blankets, I have a hard time not crying. But I was with Josiah and Aveline, in the middle of the grocery store, where crying just won’t do.)

I checked my email when I got home, and lo and behold — someone bought a hat while we were out running errands.

And I knew exactly what I needed to do.

So, meet little Yeabsira. He’s 4 years old, an orphan, and lives with his grandmother.
Yeabsira - The Adami Tulu Project - Sponsor a Child

Thank you, dear God, for reminding me today what is really important. Thank you for reminding me that You are the Giver of all good things. For what do you require of me but to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before You? (paraphrase of Micah 6:8)

[All images via The Adami Tulu Project]