Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Tenth Day: 147 Million Orphans


147 Million Orphans was created by 2 moms to raise orphan awareness worldwide, create sustainable employment for impoverished women, feed hungry children,and help adopting families raise the necessary funds to bring their children home.


Women in Uganda are taught how to make beautiful necklaces out of recycled magazines. They are sold online, and the profits help them feed their children and boost their local economy.
Usually, 147 retains 50% of the profits from these necklaces for adopting families, but from now until December 24th, that 50% will be split between Project Hopeful- which raises awareness and support for families adopting children with HIV and AIDS, and Amazima- A program in Uganda that feeds and educates hundreds of children and is run by the amazing Katie Davis.

The site also sells shirts...

and accessories.

and each purchase allows mothers in Africa nurture their children and their communities.

The necklaces and bags would make great stocking stuffers for friends in your Sunday School, Mommy Club, or for that hard to buy for friend of yours! I know I will be handing some of those necklaces out on Christmas Day! They are absolutely amazing, even prettier in person!

The Ninth Day: Into the Streets of Ethiopia

I'm a tad bit partial to Ethiopia.
I am also partial to this shirt. I have one. It's my favorite shirt. I would wear it everyday if I could.

Into the Streets of Ethiopia was started by the Portilla family after returning home from adopting their daughter. They saw the need in Ethiopia and decided to do something about it.

From their website:

The aim of Into the Streets of Ethiopia is to raise financial support, basic living materials and educational needs for children living in Ethiopia. Improving the child's living standard and provision for education will help to contribute to their future well being and adjustment in society. It is our desire to partner with charitable organizations which serve underprivileged youth in Ethiopia. All funds will be devoted to the cause of helping street children and at risk children in Ethiopia.

What Happens With Your Donations?

Your donations support:
* Education programs (tuition, books, libraries, learning materials)
* Skills training (crafts and working materials)
* Basic living needs (food, shelter, clothing)
* Religious materials (Bibles, christian education curriculum)
* Recreational activities (sports and special celebrations surrounding holidays)
* Office equipment, training and support for staff in Ethiopia
* Special projects

Is anyone on your list asking for clothes this Christmas?
These shirts are so comfortable. I ordered a size up from what I usually wear, and it fits perfectly.
$30 (free shipping!) provides a child with life-saving food or formula for a month through Into the Streets of Ethiopia's feeding program. In return for your donation, they will send you this shirt. It's that simple. Feed children and get your Christmas shopping done at the same time.
Where else can you find a deal like that?

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Eighth Day: UNICEF Inspired Gifts

UNICEF was created in December of 1946 to provide food, clothing, and health care to children after World War II. In the years since then, UNICEF has advocated for children's rights to education, clean water, nutrition, HIV awareness, and safety from sexual exploitation and abuse in 190 countries. In 1965, the organization was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for "the promotion of brotherhood among nations."

From the UNICEF website:

We believe that nurturing and caring for children are the cornerstones of human progress. UNICEF was created with this purpose in mind – to work with others to overcome the obstacles that poverty, violence, disease and discrimination place in a child’s path. We believe that we can, together, advance the cause of humanity.

We advocate for measures to give children the best start in life, because proper care at the youngest age forms the strongest foundation for a person’s future.

Instead of slipping an iTunes giftcard into your loved one's stocking this year, how about a set of Insecticide-treated Mosquito nets?
Only $18.18 provides 3 nets to keep a family safe from dangerous mosquito bites while they sleep.
Click here for more information about Insecticide Treated Mosquito Nets

Like me, you might be wondering about the financial accountability of any organization accepting donations. It's always important to understand where your money is going. I won't advocate for any organization that I wouldn't feel comfortable donating our money too. As with all these posts, I do my best to research the specifics, but you should too.

From the UNICEF website:

What am I paying for?
We send the actual products displayed on the site. For example, if you purchase a mosquito net, we deliver mosquito nets. However, we respond to the real needs of children around the world, and as a result, there may be some cases in which the Inspired Gift you have selected will be substituted with one from the same category, because there is a greater need for it. For example, if necessary we may supply jump ropes if a school already has soccer balls. That way, you will always know which area of our work you are supporting and can feel assured that it really is helping the world’s children.

Here are some other great stocking stuffers. I'm really amazed at how inexpensive they are to provide.
FYI, if you've drawn my name for Christmas this year, any of these gifts would be perfect...

Click here for more information about Tetanus Toxoid (TT) Vaccine

Tetanus Toxoid (TT) Vaccine $20.60
Tetanus Toxoid (TT) Vaccine sends vital protection to women in developing countries, enabling them to stay tetanus-free through the child-bearing period. Your purchase will provide 412 doses of vaccine.

Click here for more information about Vaccine Carrier
Vaccine Carrier $32.50
Vaccines save lives. But it can be difficult to keep them at the right temperatures in hot climates. That's why this gift is so inventive. Your purchase will provide two cold-box vaccine carriers that will help make sure we get vaccines to children in remote areas who need them.
Click here for more information about Water Purification Tablets
Water Purification Tablets $69.50
How do you wrap 50,000 litres of clean water? Simple, send it in tablet form. Imagine how many children's lives you could touch with this gift of 10,000 water purification tablets, each able to turn 4-5 litres of dirty water into drinking water. This gift is definitely worth raising a glass to.

High Energy Biscuits $49.10
These high energy/protein biscuits contain minerals and vitamins and have been developed for malnourished children during emergencies. They are easy to distribute and provide a simple solution to quickly improving the level of nutrition. Your purchase will provide 1,200 high energy biscuits, especially developed for young children caught-up in emergency situations. Within one month of the earthquake in October 2005, UNICEF distributed more than 200,000 high-protein biscuits in Pakistan.

Click here for more information about Deworming Tablets
Deworming Tablets $35.80
This is probably not the most glamorous gift idea, but it's certainly effective. For $36, you can protect so many children from the misery of worm infestation- and make for an interesting answer to the "what did you get for your birthday/Christmas/anniversary/graduation" question.

Click here for more information about School-in-a-Box Kit
School-in-a-Box Kit $256
Buy UNICEF's innovative 'School-in-a-Box' and help UNICEF set up a temporary school for at least 40 children during times of emergency. The box contains books, pencils, erasers and scissors and even a radio, while the aluminium lid of the box doubles as a blackboard. Few gifts are as innovative as this a temporary school for children that costs just $256. Since the mid 1990s, UNICEF has delivered the School-in-a-Box to emergency situations all over the world, providing the chance for children to continue their education during the most extreme crises.

Click here for more information about Mother-Baby Pack
Mother-Baby Pack $87.50
This smart little box contains all the drugs and antibiotics needed to protect a baby from HIV infection - in the womb, at birth and while breastfeeding. For mother's living with HIV it's the perfect delivery.

Malaria kills a child in Africa every 30 seconds. By the time you get done reading this post, 5 children will have died from something ridiculously preventable.

Think about that when you are tucking your children under their covers tonight...

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Seventh Day: Soles for Jesus

It is estimated that there are 1 billion pairs of unworn shoes taking up space in closets and basements in homes across the U.S.

Why Shoes

Soles for Jesus is a nonprofit, 501c3 organization that collects new and gently used shoes and sends them to designated schools, hospitals, orphanages, and drop-in centers in Africa, as well as organizations like Project 61 that are changing lives in Korah, the city dump.

From the Soles for Jesus website:

Why Africa? Why Children?

DestinationEthiopia has over 4.2 million orphans. 44% of Ethiopia’s population is under the age of 15. Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any African country. One in six children die before their fifth birthday. These are some of the stats that quickly surface when researching Ethiopia. The team saw first-hand the desperate need for these neglected orphans and street kids and how it greatly burdens the heart of God. For this reason alone, the Lord has clearly established Soles For Jesus. Shoe donations will be sent to orphanages, hospitals, drop-in centers (for street kids), as well as other organizations that are reaching out to children and youth in great need (ages 0-15). These shoes are an amazing gift of hope and safety, given to those in such uncertain surroundings.

Could you go one day without shoes?

Could you let your children play outside without shoes?

For Christmas this year, instead of putting another pair of new shoes under the tree, why not send them to a child in Africa who desperately needs them?

Or host a Shoe Drive and collect new and gently used shoes from family, friends, and neighbors and send lots of shoes to Africa!

Instead of doing a White Elephant Exchange, have everyone bring a pair of shoes!

The possibilities are endless!

Soles for Jesus collects shoes in toddler sizes through Adult size 9. I bet most of you reading this, if not all of you, have some little shoes in those sizes laying around somewhere in your house that don't fit anymore. I know I do.

Shoes ship to Milwaukee, and if you use the flat rate boxes from the P.O, shipping is a piece of cake. They are then sorted into sizes/gender and sent to Africa.

You can also choose to donate financially to help send the shoes overseas, this helps alleviate the costs for Soles for Jesus, and without generous contributions, they would not be able to do the work they do.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever!"
Ps. 118:1

Have a great day everyone!

The 12 Days of Christmas will continue tomorrow.

Day 3: 2000 Tutus
Day 5: Toms

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Sixth Day: Charity:Water

Charity:Water is a nonprofit organization that uses 100% of donations to build water wells in desperately needed places.
In the last 4 years, Charity:Water has raised more than $20 million and funded 3,196 water projects in Uganda, Malawi, Rwanda, Kenya, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, India, and Honduras.

I don't know about you, but I have a special little boy that still uses a bottle from time to time, and that picture just makes me sick. What wouldn't I do to make sure my baby never had to drink water that looked like that?

But that is the reality for so many mothers across the world right now. Clean water is a necessity that they just can't provide to their children. I wonder how that makes them feel?

I can get up from this chair, walk a few steps into my kitchen, get a clean glass from the shelf, turn on the faucet, let the water run a little until it gets to a good temperature, pour some in my glass, turn it off, and take a drink. Then, I can pour the rest down the drain.

15 seconds.

In Africa alone, people spend 40 billion hours every year just walking for water. Women and children usually bear the burden of water collection, walking miles to the nearest source, which is unprotected and likely to make them sick.

Time spent walking and resulting diseases keep them from school, work and taking care of their families.

Along their long walk, they're subjected to a greater risk of harassment and sexual assault. Hauling cans of water for long distances takes a toll on the spine and many women experience back pain early in life.

With safe water nearby, women are free to pursue new opportunities and improve their families’ lives. Kids can earn their education and build the future of their communities.

Some say it is good luck to be born in America.
Instead, I think that God puts some of us, maybe even all of us, here so that we can use our abundant resources to do great things for his people and show the world what living out the Word looks like.

From the Charity:Water website:

Right now, almost a billion people on the planet don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water. That’s one in eight of us.
charity: water is a non-profit organization bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations. We use 100% of public donations to directly fund sustainable water solutions in areas of greatest need. Just $20 can give one person clean water for 20 years.

Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of diseases and kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Children are especially vulnerable, as their bodies aren't strong enough to fight diarrhea, dysentery and other illnesses.

90% of the 42,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions are to children under five years old. Many of these diseases are preventable. The UN predicts that one tenth of the global disease burden can be prevented simply by improving water supply and sanitation.

They also sell some really cool t-shirts and accessories, which fund administrative costs so that all donations can fully fund the water projects.

And did you know that Charity:Water proves all its projects with videos, photos, and GPS? They do, which is pretty darn cool of them.

And your donation is tax-deductable, if you're into that sort of thing.

A $20 donation to charity:water will give 1 person clean water for 20 years. Not only does clean water help fight disease, but it ups a person's life expectancy.
Did you know that in the Central African Republic, the average life expectancy is 39 years?
How old are you?
Give a Charity:Water donation card to your favorite water drinker this Christmas, and make them smile every time they turn on that faucet, knowing that someone else can do the same.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Fifth Day: Toms

If you would like to know what this 12 Days of Christmas in November is all about, click here.
To catch up on what's already been done, click here:

Toms has done for the slip-on shoe what, oh, the Beatles did for pop music-flipped it over and made it awesome.
Mens Picnic Classics TOMS Shoes Side
From the Toms Website:

In 2006, American traveler Blake Mycoskie befriended children in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. One for One. Blake returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff later that year with 10,000 pairs of shoes made possible by TOMS customers.

Many children in developing countries grow up barefoot. Whether at play, doing chores or going to school, these children are at risk:

•A leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted diseases, which can penetrate the skin through bare feet. Wearing shoes can help prevent these diseases, and the long-term physical and cognitive harm they cause.

•Wearing shoes also prevents feet from getting cuts and sores. Not only are these injuries painful, they also are dangerous when wounds become infected.

•Many times children can't attend school barefoot because shoes are a required part of their uniform. If they don't have shoes, they don't go to school. If they don't receive an education, they don't have the opportunity to realize their potential.

Toms even has a shoe that is close to my heart:

charity: water Earthwise Women's Classics


The purchase of these shoes helps fund the building of 3 new clean water wells in Ethiopia, as well as provides a new pair of shoes for a needy child. I received these shoes a few weeks ago and I absolutely love them. They are so comfortable and didn't need any "breaking in." I wear them around the house, to the store, anywhere.

Toms come in some classic colors, but they do throw some funky ones in the mix for those who like to spice it up.They even have Wedding styles and "Tiny Toms" for kids! They also offer hats, shirts, and jewelry.

These shoes would be a great gift for those crazy teenagers you never know how to shop for, or put a Toms giftcard in your Secret Santa gift, and the recipient will spend all year thinking how they can top your gift next Christmas. Score!

(Plus, knowing that a child somewhere in the world has a new pair of shoes is pretty wonderful. )


Pink Women's GlittersMens Olive Canvas Classics TOMS Shoes SideMens Navy Bimini Stitchouts TOMS Shoes SideMens Natural Canvas Classics TOMS Shoes SideBlack Grommet Women's ClassicsLove is the New Black Navy Colorway Men's ClassicsTyler Ramsey Men's Hand PaintedAsh Waxed Twill Men's CordonesUniversity Khaki Rope Sole Seaport Men's Vegan ClassicsPomegranate Cord Women's Classics
Baobab Embroidered Tree Men's Classics

Fourth Day of Christmas: Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree

I read not too long ago that the abortion rate in the US of babies who are deemed to have Down Syndrome is 94%. Of all the babies whose test results come back as likely-positive of DS, 94% are killed. Roughly 66,000 children thrown away.
Deemed worthless.
Did you know that the waiting list to adopt a Down Syndrome baby in the US is currently about 300 families long? That means that if you are adopting, and in your report, you say you would like a baby with Down Syndrome, there will be on average 300 families ahead of you in line to receive the very next baby with DS available for adoption.
If you've been around here for long, you know my feelings about the children at Reece's Rainbow. RR is not an adoption agency, but rather a site that advocates for children with Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and HIV in Russia, Eastern Europe and China.

There are no lines of families waiting to adopt babies with Down Syndrome in these countries. There are no social programs, support groups, therapies, or counselors for families that dare to keep their mentally disabled child in these countries, if they are even allowed to. Most are removed from their families at birth or shortly after. The parents are disowned, they lose their jobs, their families, their marriages, all in the name of dedication and love to their child who, in their country, is called worthless, meaningless, and unwanted.

Reece's Rainbow offers hope.
They provide pictures and medical information of children who are desperately waiting for a family.
Children who are running out of time.
Each child has a separate account tied to him or her, which is funded solely by donation. Whatever is in their account is used to fund their adoption. The entire amount is given to the adopting parents. Some children have $0,some have a couple of hundred dollars. I have even seen some with almost $30,000.

Money is the only thing that stands between these children and a family.
Just. Money.

Just a willingness to throw off the weight of the "American Dream" and put on the freedom of what Christ calls True Religion. Just a step (or a leap)of faith out into the dark wilderness of Obedience with only the Light of the World to guide you.

There is a way that you can help these children find a family to love, cherish, nurture, and comfort them this Christmas. You can donate to Reece's Rainbow's Christmas Angel Tree. For a donation of $35 or more to a specific child, you will receive an ornament with that child's photo and name that you can hang on your tree, or put in a loved one's stocking as a reminder of your special connection to that child.
Your donation will help ease the financial burden for prospective adopting families, and show that these children are worth fighting for.

This would be a great ornament to put on your own Christmas tree, as a reminder to pray with your children for those around the world who are lonely and in need of rescue. God is definitely in the business of answering prayers. Pray with your children, for your Angel Tree child, and see if God doesn't show Himself faithful! Who knows- you may end up being the family that was meant for him/her all along!

From the RR website:
All of these children could be HOME with their "forever families" by next Christmas. Money is the ONLY thing keeping them apart. Every penny helps. It all adds up. Make a donation, purchase an ornament…send a check, use Paypal, or even donate stock! It's so easy to "give the gift of a family" this holiday season.