Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Alternative Gift Ideas

Image courtesy of Feelart/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?  Or are you waiting to fight the crowds on Black Friday?  I have one word for you.  Actually it's a hyphenation- DON'T.  That in itself is a radical idea to many people.  And why is that?  The mass media has us trained like Pavlov's dog to go and shop where they say, to buy what the advertisers tell us to buy.   Now I'm not a radical anti-capitalist.  There's nothing WRONG with buying gifts for loved ones.  Actually, it's a practical demonstration of grace- the unearned free showering of God's salvation on the undeserving.

However, what if, instead of succumbing to the media, we were to do something different this year?  Shower our friends with gifts that make a difference- a real tangible difference in someones life.  A difference that will change a person forever.  How about that?  That's something a new box of Legos just can't do.

I'm talking about alternative gifts.  Giving a gift in your child's or friends name to benefit someone else.  If you are able, why not sponsor a child as a family?  The education your children get as they send small gifts and notes (and receive them) to a needy child overseas will help mold them into the young man or woman you want them to become.  The benefits for your family are multi-faceted.  As you and your child pray for his new friend, you will be teaching spiritual values that your child will carry with him forever.  It's also educational- he can learn about his friends country, life, and people.

Mission Without Borders has child AND family sponsorship programs where you will be paired with an individual child (usually living in a government home) or a family- where your gifts, prayers, and letters encourage a whole family and help them move toward self-sufficiency.  There are other programs out there as well.  But I have personally visited this ministry in Moldova (they also work throughout Eastern Europe) so I'm more familiar with them.

Too Much?

I realize that sponsorship is a commitment.  A commitment that some people, for a variety of reasons can't make.  But don't abandon alternative gifts altogether!  There are smaller one time options available!  For example, you can provide a hot meal every day for a month for an elderly person for a one time gift of $48!  You could give the gift of self sufficiency by a starter pack of top quality seeds for a vegetable garden or even a pig!  "Giving a pig means you're giving families and orphanages the opportunity to develop skills in animal husbandry; to gain an income by selling the piglets and to have essential food."  You can make one time strategic gifts to provide a student with schools supplies, a new mother with needed supplies for giving birth and caring for a newborn. Visit the US shop and pick a project that meets your budget!

This is the perfect time to give to those in need and use this to teach children about the true meaning of Christmas.  Lessons that will last long after the toys break and are long forgotten.  Sit down now and explain what you want to do.  Maybe they have ideas.  Volunteer at a homeless shelter once a month.  Visit a nursing home.  Do something courageous and don't be satisfied with the same old Christmas routine. 

“I have never been especially impressed by the heroics of people convinced they are about to change the world. I am more awed by those who struggle to make one small difference.” 
― Ellen Goodman

This could be YOU this holiday season!

If you do shop online this holiday season, would you consider using my links to Amazon?  I get a small percentage as a commission.  I am setting this aside for a special project for my sponsored family in Moldova.  I would like to meet some of their immediate needs and help them and they move toward self sufficiency and learn more about God's amazing love for them! Thanks!  I look forward to sharing with you what great things are being done because you cared!

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