Monday, December 3, 2007

Charity And Christmas

When doing my post about Ideas for a Cheaper And More Meaningful Christmas, I realized that there was more than one topic I wanted to write about and I was inspired to continue on the Christmas topic. In all of the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, it can be easy to forget giving shouldn’t just be limited to family and friends on your list. There are several charities that depend on Christmas generosity in helping out people in all walks of life.

I’m sure that you probably remember Hurricane Katrina and the Tsunami of 2004? Both are huge natural disasters where thousands of lives were lost and thousands more effected by the aftermath. Recovery and rebuilding continue and donations would be appreciated. Both events show us all that we have a lot to be thankful for. Here is the U.S. government’s webpage for Katrina. For the Tsunami of 2004, some charities you could give to are the United Way, United Nations OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), UNICEF, American Red Cross, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Since the Tsunami was almost three years ago now, there aren’t so many high profile programs to aid, you could also donate to one of these organizations and indicate that you wanted to your donation to go to the Tsunami (or other disasters for that matter).

The Christmas season is one of the biggest times of the year for charities. For a lot of them, this is where they tend to shine and much of their activities are focused on this time of year (i.e. many of the toy based charities), for others it is a time of year that they have a higher visibility. A large portion of many charities budgets comes from donations made during the Christmas season. While it should be noted that money is almost always needed by most charities, your time and talents are also welcome. Many of us are familiar with the red bucket of the Salvation Army but they do some much more than this, they also have an opportunity to help out with the cyclone victims in Bangladesh amongst other opportunities. The U.S. Marines have been running Toys for Tots for many years now. You can buy Christmas Seals from the American Lung Association for your Christmas cards and letters. Secret Santa is an organization connecting people with local toy drives. Samaritan’s Purse was created based on the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) and have several relief projects around the world, they’re putting on the Gift Filled Shoe box project. Familygivingtree based out of California (but expanding) helps fulfill the holiday wishes of kids that would otherwise have to go without for Christmas. Makeawish gives hope to kids with life-threatening medical conditions. based on the Christmas carol “All I Want for Christmas” charitable gift-giving efforts of community organizations throughout the U.S. enabling charities, daycares, and preschools to accept toy donations online. From the Prison Fellowship puts on Angel Tree which provides toys to children of parents that are in prison. Here is a site with several links to local charities in the U.S. Here is an article about helping charities at Christmas when money is low Have you seen the movie Pay-It-Forward about the boy that started a chain reaction by doing some good deeds for others and then asking the recipients to pay it forward instead of repaying him? Here is a story about some people that actually put it in action. If you have doubts about a charity, then maybe you could check them out at the Better Business Bureau (for the U.S. and Canada)

Are there other ways that I can help? There are lots of other things that you do to help out your fellow man. Blood is always needed by local blood banks, sometimes it is needed more this time of year, so you could check with your local blood bank or Red Cross, as there is probably a blood drive near you. You can see about serving a meal at a local soup kitchen over the holiday season (at other times would be welcomed as well). You could mentor a child at Big Brothers Big Sisters International, they mentored over 280,000 kids in 12 countries (according to their website). You could become involved at, a local hospital, or nursing/retirement home. You can also show your kids the importance of giving of yourself and involving them in some of the activities.

I hope that you spread some holiday cheer to others and help to make spirit and giving of the season last longer than December. Happy Holidays

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