With the passing of Thanksgiving and the succession of Black Friday to begin the holiday shopping season, people in developed countries took a moment to remember that they were thankful for all the stuff they had before barreling headlong into the search for more stuff. Consumerism has undoubtedly done a lot of good – for example, it boosts the economy, and sometimes, you just really need a new pair of good jeans. But a lot of people around the world are living with a lot less than we have, and this holiday season, perhaps you’ll consider spreading a little holiday cheer by giving.
Though NeW does not endorse any of these charities, I wanted to talk about a few reputable organizations with which I am familiar. If nothing else, I hope these organizations restore your faith in humanity, and let you know that good is being done in the world.
- Operation Christmas Child and Angel Tree are organizations who give Christmas presents to children. Operation Christmas Child sends shoeboxes filled with things like toothbrushes, toys, and socks around the world, and Angel Tree delivers presents to children who have one or more parent in prison.
- Global Orphan Project gives the gift of education. A lot of children around the world, especially girls, cannot go to school without a clean uniform. GO Project provides uniforms to children so they can go to school, and also supports the businesses that make the children’s clothes, so it provides education and jobs, as well as orphan care. You can also sponsor a child individually through World Vision, and learn about them, their family, and their life.
- Heifer International provides a calf or goat to a family in need. They can get food, milk, meat and more animals from one animal, and these foods and babies are passed on to other people in need – it’s the quintessential “gift that keeps on giving.” If you’re interested in supporting business that keeps giving, Videre is a great entrepreneurial endeavor in third-world countries that loans money to people who have a business plan. Once the business takes off, they pay back the money, which is loaned to other people to help them start a business. Every entrepreneur goes through a training program.
- Women for Women International assists survivors of war and helps them rebuild their lives so they can be self-sufficient. Another organization that does something similar for survivors of drug wars in Guatemala is Hope Renewed International. HRI is very close to my heart because I went on a trip with them last spring to Guatemala. There are many facets to the organization, including a work exchange program (we’ll give you supplies for your wall if you help fix someone else’s roof, we’ll give you clothes if you send your children to school with a snack) and a screen-printing business in the women’s prison so the incarcerated women can get a job and feed their families when they get out. Most of the imprisoned women are there because they sold drugs to feed their families, and some were falsely accused. It helps women get out of bad situations. So does International Justice Mission, which helps rehabilitate victims of human trafficking and also enforces perpetrator accountability to help reduce human trafficking instead of removing some girls only to have more brought in.
All of these organizations are worthy causes. I’m not trying to guilt you into giving, especially if you’re short on cash. But many of us are fortunate enough to have enough, and it would be great to help those who do not. According to stopthehunger.com, people spent more money on pet food today in Europe and America than it would cost to feed every hungry person in the world. Of course it’s important to take care of our pets, because we own them and they are our responsibility, but shouldn’t we take some responsibility for helping out our fellow man as well? It shouldn’t take a government mandate, because the problem is much bigger than one nation. Not because we are forced, but because we care, we should do what we can to help others. Burke puts it best:
Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.