In May of last year, I made a trip with Compassion, International, to El Salvador that changed my life. (If you weren’t hanging around my blog last you, you can find the posts from that trip here.) After seeing poverty in such a real way, I knew I would never be the same.
And I’m not.
Last Christmas, I really struggled with the whole gift giving thing. I wanted to take all of our Christmas money and give it to an organization that could put it to use in what could make the difference between life or death for someone in this world. Of course, my husband didn’t have the same experience as me so he wasn’t quite sure what to make of my new convictions. My daughters went on the trip with me, however, and they were also profoundly affected. In fact, my daughter Anne recently hosted a discussion on her blog that will be similar to today’s discussion here on my blog.
Last year my friend Amy gave our family two flocks of chickens through Heifer, International. But she didn’t give them to us. She gave them in our name to a family living in poverty. She also donated to the Unsponsored Children’s Fund at Compassion, International, in our name. I was so excited when I opened the envelope…I was jumping up and down! Now that’s a gift I can get excited about!
Have you ever considered giving gifts that give back?
Here are some ideas from Anne’s blog to get us started:
Gifts of Compassion (My Personal Favorite)
World Vision Gift Catalog
A Gift from the Heart – Habitat for Humanity
Harvest of Hope
*Changing the Present
*Donors Choose – Connecting You to Classrooms in Need
*The Good Card
To Write Love on Her Arms
Maybe you’d still like to give a gift, but still want to help out. Check these out!
Toms Shoes (For every pair of shoes you buy, one is donated to a child in need)
Spend Yourself (100% of the profit goes to the cause each shirt supports)
Ten Thousand Villages (Your fair trade purchase of handmade jewelry, home decor and gifts helps improve the lives of thousands of artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.)
*Better World Books
*Gift Back (10% of purchase goes to charity)
*CommonThreadz – For every tshirt you buy, a school uniform is donated in Africa
Anyone else have any ideas for Gifts that Give Back?
*Any link marked with a (*) I have not personally purchased or known anyone who has purchased through them. I would encourage you to do your research. 🙂
What about you…have you ever given or received a gift that gives back? Do you have any to add to our list?
The winner of the Day 7 Drawing will win the Hearts at Home book Ordinary Mom…Extraordinary God by Mary DeMuth. This book offers mothering encouragement that refreshes your soul.
Don’t forget to include your email in your comment or to email me at jillsavagegiveaway (at) yahoo (dot) com if you choose to blog, Facebook, or Twitter about this topic! You can participate in this discussion/giveaway until midnight Tuesday 12/8/09.
I can’t wait to hear your ideas!
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I think that book is something that I should really be reading right now! Hope that I win!!
I've never given in someone else's name but we sponsor 3 kids through Compassion. That's definitely a gift that gives back! Getting to know these children is a delight and knowing that our gifts are changing their lives is amazing. The more I learn about the organization and get involved the more impressed I am with it.
We have participated in Samaritan's Purse "Operation Christmas Child" project for the last several years. We fill a shoebox for a child that is our children's ages. We take our kids out shopping and let them pick out toys to include in the shoeboxes and then we also put it items like socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, washclotes, combs etc. This year it hit our 8 yr old that this was the only gift this child would receive. We have also done Angle Tree gifts in the past. This was through our church. They would received names of children's who has a parent in prision and that parent has sent in a request for a specific gift for their child along with a special message for them. You then go out and purchase that gift and wrap it. The church then holds a special Christmas party for these kids where they are given their gift.
For several years, my brother and his wife asked us not to give Christmas gifts to their teenagers, as they felt they had everything. So, we gave them gifts through Mark Makers. In essence, they were given a gift card and allowed to donate the money in any way they felt led – to give a goat to a family or medical supplies or contribute to clean water, etc.
It was a neat way to donate in their name, but also give them a chance to give the way God lead them to.
Our family shops a lot at Ten Thousand Villages, but this year and last year my 10 year old daughter has chosen to start giving some of her money at Christmas to one of our church's mission groups. I know I didn't do that as a 10 year old, so I hope that she can be an inspiration to my younger kids.
I have another one to add to the list. Living Waters for the World is a wonderful organization that trains people to install water purification systems in some of the poorest areas in the world(indluding the Appalachian Mountain Region in the United States) where children and adults die every day because they are drinking dirty water. We are so lucky and spoiled to be able to fulfill that need for a drink of water by turning on our faucet and gulping it down. Most of the world can't do this. I am going on a trip with three others from my church, Fox Valley Presbyterian Church in Geneva, IL, in February to Jacaltenango, Guatemala to install a water purification system and survy the area to install another one. The need is GREAT! I pray that your blog readers consider giving the gift of clean water. http://www.livingwatersfortheworld.org/
Our family has put together shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. We have so much fun as a family shopping so we can fill that box to the brim, you get creative as time goes by a few years 🙂 I really have struggled with the gift giving this year and want to do more. Thanks for the ideas you gave and others too !
Giving in those ways is so much more rewarding and to know and see others come to know Christ is a gift in itself.
The book you are giving looks great, hope i win 🙂
I've done Operation Christmas Child for many years. We also have a local organization which may be called different things in your area. Here it's the sharing tree. Helping those locally who cannot give their children Christmas gifts or are have needs themselves. Also the local food banks. There is such a desperate need within our own communities, also.
We buy gifts for toys for tots..I let my two children pick out what they want to put in the tot box. We also donate once a week through out the Christmas season to our local food drives…they give the food to pantrys. We do it all year long but at holiday time can use the weekly donations.
After my daughter was born Jewish friends of ours planted a tree for her in the Children's Forest in Israel. I was so touched, and had a other tree planted there for his mother when she passed away.
I love Anysoldier.com. You can search for a soldier based on branch of service, hometown, area of deployment etc and find their wish list. You can purchase on your own and mail, or the site will do it for you. We usually do our own shopping and include art from my kids in the package. A great way to say thank you to those who protect and serve.
Our small group from church — Christian Community Church in Murray, KY — also puts together shoe boxes for children throughout the world through Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan's Purse. Our family as well as small group have also participated in buying gifts for local families in need through the school systems in past years.
I was just sitting down for coffee with a friend of mine saying how I wish I knew of some great places that we could give gifts with eternal value instead of ones that need 38*2 batteries! Thank you! Thank you for this great post!!!
We have never done any of those…I'm ashamed to say I don't know that it has ever occurred to me! Thanks for bringing it out to our attention Jill!
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We have done Operation Christmas Child for many years now and it is highlight of our shopping season. We have done angel trees as well. This year I am planning on donating in my parents name to one of the mentioned organizations…probably the ones that give goats.
We have done Operation Christmas Child for the past few years, which is great fun for the kids, but I also wanted them to realize that there are families right here in our own community who need just as much. So, last year, we adopted a family through a local ministry and purchased gifts for all the members of their family. My then four year old daughter helped wrap the gifts and, the next day, we took them to their home (which is a transitional shelter for homeless families) and prayed with them. It was unbelievably awesome.
We pack boxes for Operation Christmas Child – one for each member of our family. It is so neat to see how the kids get excited over this and want to know about "their" child that will receive their gift. I want to give to organizations that provide animals or milk or other necessities to impoverished people. My daughter started school this year and they are having 3 giving trees in the lobby to collect hats, boots, and nonperishable foods for people in the community. All of this at a public school. We are very concerned about teaching our children the importance of giving!!!
We pack a box for Operation Christmas Child and we sponsor a child through World Vision. When we get our taxes back we tithe ten percent. We divide the ten percent up six ways. Each of the four boys get to decide how they want to share their money giving back. They usually buy goats, sheep, clothing, food, medicine, or things like that through World Vision, Samaritain's Purse, or Compassion International. Our nine year old has started on his list for this coming year. He is very excited and loves to help others.
This may be violating some blogging rules since I already commented- but your post got me thinking. Another idea that I have done only once is we gave money to Bibles International. Another great source is Bible League- you can choose what country you'd like to donate Bibles to and they accept any amount of money.
BA–you can comment as much as you want! These ideas are great!
We like to purchase items at thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army.. the proceeds go to great causes. http://www.examiner.com/x-30987-Tacoma-StayatHome-Moms-Examiner~y2009m12d4-The-holiday-gift-that-keeps-on-giving
Tacoma Stay-at-Home Moms Examiner
I've received a gift from Donors Choose (listed in Jill's post). It was such a blessing for my students and my classroom! This is a reputable program, and I would highly recommend it. It's definitely worth checking out — especially if you're interested in giving to local schools. You have lots of control over how you give when you use this program.
My siblings and I have started buying my parents Mother's and Father's day gifts from the World Vision gift catalog. My mom is a retired school teacher so we give money to the girls' education fund in her name and my dad is a retired engineer so we donate to the water well building fund in his name.
We've sponsored a child through compassion for 7 years now. I think that is definitely a gift that gives back.
We have a community wide angle tree program….for the last couple of years instead of doing an angle, we've done an entire family. We've also done Make a Wish and St. Jude donations in the names of loved ones for gifts. Thanks for all of the links. I'll have so save them somehow, but I got to thinking, I always like to do something for my kids teachers and thought a Compassion gift for education materials would be a great idea!!!! THANKS for the links!
Hi Jill! This was our first Christmas as an extended family to skip exchanging gifts. Instead we took up a collection at Thanksgiving and were able to purchase a goat, a sheep, and a share of a donkey through the World Vision catalog. What a great way to give back. I'm sure this will be a new family tradition. Thanks for getting the word out about these fantastic ways to care for the world's poor.
We have given to the Samaritan's Purse where we got a fish pond in my brother-in-law's name, and our kids picked out things for other kids. I loved that they could be involved like that too.
We do Operation Christmas Child. Although, it would be fun to go try a different one for next year.
My husband has been to Uganda several times and we've established a relationship with a church movement there. As a result, we have started our own child sponsorship program in Uganda, and we sponsor 2 children thru that program (www.ducf.org). We give extra money at Christmastime for the children to have a party with gifts. My 4th grader's teacher does a class project with the Heifer Project. In lieu of teacher gifts, parents are asked to give money and the class donates an animal based on the amount they receive.
thanks for all the wonderful topics!
We also do Operation Christmas Child through our church.
My daughter's Sunday school class has been collecting money for the past year or so and purchasing animals from the World Vision catalog, last year for families in China, and this year for families in Africa.
Just yesterday, I read about Sweet Sleep (www.sweetsleep.org) on Angie Smith's blog "Bring the Rain" (www.audreycaroline.blogspot.com). This sounds like an awesome organization to add to your list! They provide beds and Bibles for orphans and abandoned children. I plan to donate on behalf of several people on my gift list this year!
jessicafeuser at hotmail dot com