Like most children, Christmas was my absolute favorite day of the year. While I still love all of the sights, sounds and smells of the holiday, as I have become an adult, I have found myself becoming much fonder of Thanksgiving than Christmas. I think the primary reason is Thanksgiving includes all of the things I love most about the holiday (food and family) without the one thing I dread, which are the gifts.
It’s still amazing to witness moments of rapturous joy when my young children unwrap a present and first lay eyes on the thing they have been praying and hoping for all year. But, the difficulty of finding something both practical and heartfelt for my adult family members makes the overall gift giving experience less than enjoyable. In fact, my wife and I have made a pact to not buy each other anything this year.
For the most part, there is little in this world we need or want, and when we do need something, we have purchased it long before December 25th.
Because we are such a blessed people, I believe most Americans are in this same state of having more than they need. (or at least should be). That’s why the movement of giving presents with a purpose is growing so quickly.
The form of these gifts can vary, but the rationale is always the same, using the blessings God has given to us to not only bless loved ones close to us, but to also bless strangers half a world away.
One such present idea comes from an organization my church has supported for many years, Triumphant Ministries. Based out of Branson Missouri, pastor Rick Johnson and his organization serve the people of Myanmar by providing both job training and water wells to its poorest residents.
In fact, this organization has become so efficient in the process of building sustainable clean water sources that an individual or a group can have a well installed in a village for less than the cost of a TV.
What makes this an even better gift is the sign placed at the well with the name or names of those who purchased it in the native Burmese language. I don’t know about you, but I would love to receive a well dedicated in my name as a Christmas present. For more information this mission check out triumphantministries.com
If a physical item to give is more what you’re looking for, two great companies I am personally aware of are Noonday and Generous Coffee.
Noonday partners with individual women throughout the poorest areas of Southeast Asia who create one of a kind handcrafted clothing and jewelry that is then available for purchase at noondaycollection.com. Generous Coffee, founded by “Bachelor” star Ben Higgins is a coffee company based out of Denver that donates 100% of its profits to local charities in the regions in which the coffee beans they use are grown, including Columbia, Honduras, Guatemala and Rwanda.
You can learn more about this organization at their website generousmovement.com
In my favorite Christmas movie of all time “Christmas Vacation”, a membership in the jelly of the month club that Clark receives as a Christmas bonus, is described as the gift that keeps on giving.
Might I suggest another option that could be a bit more appreciated this Christmas? Through Kiva.org, you can gift to someone the ability to issue small micro loans to individuals around the globe. What makes this particular gift so cool, is it’s not a one-time donation. Instead the recipient receives giving credits to their account, and they get to choose which people or groups to issue no interest loans to.
Because the repayment rate is 96.8% the giver usually receives the amount they have given back over time and are then free to gift the funds out again to other deserving people. In fact, a single gift of as little as $25 can result in dozens of loans impacting hundreds, if not thousands of lives.
It truly can be the gift that keeps on giving indefinitely. And because 100% of every dollar you give to Kiva goes to funding loans you don’t have to worry about administration costs eating up those funds intended for the less fortunate.
Obviously, in a single article I can barely scratched the surface of all the worthwhile organizations that are making a difference this time of Advent. I hope this article simply inspires you to think outside the box when developing your Christmas list this season.
Investigate these and other organizations and find one that speaks to you. I personally will guarantee you that by giving presents in this manner both you and the recipient will be just as blessed, as those who ultimately receive these gifts of generosity.
–Luke Davis is Director of Operations and Compliance at Stewardship Capital.