The Holiday season is officially upon us and just as the decorations adorn the aisles of the stores and the music is played on cue, the giving offers are arriving daily. They show up in my rurual mailbox, my e-mail inbox. They are blasted over radio and television and snuck into various forms of social media. Some even come through the telephone or by text. A very few are bad, most are very good and many are great in my book.
I am sure you are familiar with these giving offers. Opportunities for us to share a portion of what we have been given with others. Fundraising happens year-round but the big push (often served with a heavy dose of guilt) comes during the month of December.
I don't know about you but I often feel overwhelmed with these offers. There are so many good causes to give to but unless we suddenly inherit a small (or large, I mean, as long as we are inheriting...) fortune my families resources are limited. It's easy to eliminate the bad, the would be scammers, and we can usually eliminate those that keep such a large percentage of money for overhead that only a few pennies on the dollar go to the actual charity. Those gone, there are still so many good causes that remain.
So where do you start? For me, I have found the best place to start is with the heart - my heart. Many tug at my heartstrings but a few seem to reach out and grab it. I keep a budget in mind too lest the guilt get the best of me. After we chose where to give, and how much, I can feel much more comfortable deleting the remaining offers, tossing or politely declining any remaining. I am open to being stretched in my giving though and if prompted will give out of my comfort zone.
Sometimes the charities I choose have a personal connection such as giving to the Federation for the Blind in honor of my Grandpa Peggy who had lived the last years of her life legally blind from diabetes related complications. They did such great things for her such as putting raised numbers on their microwave to providing a talking clock and recorder to listen to books on tape. We have also given to the local cancer walk yearly (and continue to do so) in honor of family and friends who have survived or succumbed to the disease. These are both charities that we have given to other times of the year than Thanksgiving or Christmas thus splitting up the cost throughout the year.
During the Christmas season we have given to our local Gospel mission to provide meals, a local food bank and a local pregnancy center. We have also given to a few medical related missions based somewhat locally that provide care and supplies to third world countries and this continues to be one that speaks to my heart. I also have a very soft spot for Show Hope or other adoption related causes. We also participated in the Operation Christmas Child shoebox project through Samaritans Purse for the first time this year. With the internet it is easy to check out where your money is going and how much will go to the actual project. Don't be afraid to check it out and ask questions. A true charity will welcome your inquiry.
Another way to give is to consider where you purchase your gifts from. This year I have purchased several gifts from companies who provide opportunity for economic independence and a step out of poverty. You get a great, handcrafted, one of a kind gift and are able to give back at the same time. Karama is a favorite for bags and ornaments and Noonday has great jewelry. Sevenly creates great T-shirts with a portion going to various, changing causes from adoption to autism and beyond and we were thrilled to help Mercy House reach one of their many goals this year in helping moms and babies to thrive. We also have an amazing family friend who works for Charity: water and we love helping provide clean water to those without.
Finally, giving doesn't have to be in the form of money. We also should consider giving of our time and talents as well as resources. And don't forget to pray. The needs are great, so pick the way you can best help and just do something for someone this Holiday season in honor of Jesus, the greatest gift ever given.
"Don't fail to do something because you can not do everything." Richard Stearns
How do you choose where to give? Do you have a favorite charity?