You know, it really is true what they say about giving being better than receiving.
Samaritan's Purse (the same organization that does Operation Christmas Child)
and World Vision both have their annual Christmas Catalogs out right now. I recieved World Vision's in the mail, and found Samaritan's Purse's online.
This is how it works: You choose the gift you would like to donate and they provide it for a needy family somewhere in the world. In some cases, the country is specifically mentioned in the gift description. This would be a wonderful opportunity to show young children that our "neighbors" aren't just the people in the house next door.
If you choose to give a gift "in honor" or "in memory" of someone special, you can receive a card specific to their gift which you can then present to them in person.
This would make a great stocking stuffer- it takes up very little room, you don't have to keep track of a return receipt, and they will treasure it forever, knowing that you helped make someone's life better in their honor.
That beats a pack of gum or a votive candle any day!
I contacted Samaritan's Purse to ask how much of each donation actually goes toward the gift chosen. This was their reply:
Last year, Samaritan’s Purse worked in over 100 countries and has delivered more than 77 million shoe boxes to needy children in 122 countries since 1993. Many of the funds for our administrative and fundraising needs are pulled from our Where Most Needed fund. In 2009, eighty-nine percent of each dollar contributed to this fund was used for ministry (program) expenses, while five percent was used for general administrative costs, and six percent for fundraising.
World Vision states on the inside front page of the catalog that "89% of every gift goes toward helping children and families overcome poverty in nearly 100 countries."
Both organizations seek to empower families to rise above poverty and find hope in Jesus through tangible, sustainable gifts such as:
Gift 2 - Rescue a Child from Exploitation
Every day, thousands of children fall prey to human traffickers. Some are forced to serve as soldiers or perform menial labor—but many more are enslaved in the worst kind of exploitation and abuse. Samaritan’s Purse works through Christian partners worldwide to protect vulnerable children from trafficking and to rehabilitate young victims of exploitation. For $75, we can provide a child with basic necessities, safe shelter, job training, counseling—and the opportunity to experience true freedom in Christ. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36, NIV).
Gift 5 - Teach a Child to Read and Write
Without an education, this little Sri Lankan boy was probably doomed to a life of hard labor, hunger, and hopelessness. Around the globe, Samaritan’s Purse helps thousands of children like this through a variety of education and literacy projects that bring hope to impoverished communities and offer local believers an effective means of sharing the Gospel. A $15 gift can provide a month’s tuition or school supplies, enabling an eager student to learn of Jesus Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3, NIV).
Gift 1 - Feed a Hungry Baby for a Week
Mothers in southeastern Ethiopia carry their hungry babies for miles across dry, dusty plains to reach the Samaritan’s Purse feeding center. Though many of the children arrive near death, most are healthy enough to return home after a few weeks of nourishing food. Around the globe, malnutrition claims millions of young lives each year and leaves many others with physical and mental disabilities. In regions ravaged by hunger, a $9 gift can help us feed a baby or nursing mother for a week, presenting a powerful witness for our compassionate Savior. “For He will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help” (Psalm 72:12, NIV).
Gift 10 - Fruit Trees
A productive fruit tree is a prized possession for a poor family. Mangos, oranges, and other fruit provide nourishing food, and the surplus can be sold to generate much-needed income. The tree can also furnish shade from the heat and boost soil conservation. For $45, we can supply 30 seedlings that will grow to produce an abundant harvest. As our teams work in poverty-stricken communities, they can point people to Christ and share His promise of heaven: “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7, NIV).
Gift 15 - Honey Bees
Little honeybees can be a big blessing for struggling rural families, who can sell honey and beeswax to pay for education, healthcare, or other basic needs. The bees also pollinate plants, increasing fruit and vegetable yields. We provide the starter hives, equipment, and training to start a successful honey business. For $35, we can help a family get started in beekeeping and earn a hearing for God’s Word, which is “sweeter than honey” (Psalm 119:103).
Gift 19 - Sports Gear
This year, the world united to watch World Cup soccer, and children’s dreams of athletic triumph soared. But they can’t play without gear, and most impoverished families can’t afford the luxury of a soccer ball. A gift of $8 can provide a ball or other sports gear, equipping Christian workers to tell young people how to gain real victory in Jesus.
Gift 30 - Household Water Filters
Chan Chorn and his family still enjoy clean water from one of the household filters that Samaritan’s Purse installed 12 years ago in their village in Cambodia. “All the families I know who have a filter could not imagine life without them,” Chan said. Around the world, over 120,000 families in 24 countries depend on these simple filters, which require no chemicals or power, instead using a natural biological process to remove disease-causing microorganisms and pollutants. Best of all, our teams are able to tell the families we help about the “living water” of Jesus Christ (John 4:10-14). It only costs $100 to give a family a filter that can last a lifetime
Gift 41 - Bikes & Vehicles for Missions
Remote villages untouched by the Gospel might never hear of Jesus if not for faithful believers who pedal bicycles, putter on motorbikes, or bounce along in trucks over miles of rugged trails. Samaritan’s Purse has provided thousands of Christian workers with bikes and other vehicles, making it possible for them to minister to communities scattered over a wide area. For $100, we can purchase a rugged bicycle or meet other vital transportation needs.
There are so many more gifts available to choose from. Some are more expensive than others, all will help make a physical and eternal impact on a child, family, or village this Christmas.
And that's the best gift of all.