In my previous post, I talked about doing the very best with what I have right now and I promised to share with you some of my favourite charities/organizations that are doing great things around the world. These past few days of waiting must have been torturous for you! Hush now, dearie; Momma-Nita’s here to make it all better. So without further ado, here are my Favourite Things (somewhat like Oprah’s Favourite Things, except my favourite things actually help other people and save lives as opposed to convincing you that your life is meaningless without thousand-dollar slippers):
First up: Samaritan’s Purse.There are two projects within Samaritan’s Purse that I want to highlight, both of which can be accessed from their home page. First is Operation Christmas Child (OCC). In the summer of 2004, I was visiting an orphanage in South Africa and was delighted to see that all the children had these beautifully wrapped shoeboxes filled with gifts from donors like you. I had heard about OCC, but meeting a few of the children who had received the gifts and seeing how much they cherished them made the whole concept very real to me. Since then, filling OCC shoeboxes has become a family tradition. It’s such an easy way to give. It’s a tangible and fun way to teach charitable giving to our kids. And these boxes actually do end up in the hands of children across the world who otherwise wouldn’t get any gifts at Christmas.
Samaritan’s Purse also has a Christmas Gift Catalog. This is a fantastic way to donate towards a specific cause that you are personally passionate about. You can give towards medical supplies, disaster relief, clean water, anti-trafficking, orphan care, school construction, mosquito nets… You can give just because you want to, or you can give in honour of someone else. This is an awesome Christmas gift idea – for those people on your list who don’t need more stuff, and for all the teachers/coaches/mailmen etc. who probably don’t want another mug filled with chocolate.
There are a few big charities that do this catalog idea, and there are certainly pros and cons to these types of fundraising campaigns. However, we have compared several of them and Samaritan’s Purse is our chosen winner. We like their integrity in the high percentage of donated money that goes directly to the ministry that it was intended for.
Now that you’ve done all your Christmas shopping, let’s move onto this very cool business loan organization. Kiva is “a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.” You are the lender. You register an account and deposit as little as $25 into it. Then you look through the pages of borrowers and choose one that you want to lend your $25 to. Borrowers are small-business owners around the world who need a boost to grow their business so they can better provide for themselves and their families. The needs are pretty simple: some extra sewing supplies or a cow or upgrading their store shelving or hiring a worker. A realistic repayment schedule is in place for each borrower, and as they repay, it goes back into your kiva account. When you regain your $25, you can loan it to someone else. It’s a great way to help someone out with very little risk and expense.
Maybe you’re looking for a smaller (more personal) organization to support on an ongoing basis. Maybe you have an insatiable compassion for orphans, but the world-wide needs are too overwhelming and you don’t know where to start. Here are two ministries that I love.
We visited Embracing Hope Ethiopia on our most recent trip to Ethiopia last Christmas. There is so much I could say about how great their work is and all that they’re doing, but I just wouldn’t do them justice. Please visit the website and browse around. All I can add is that they are legit and they are passionately in love with the beautiful people they serve.
God’s Littlest Angels is an orphanage in Haiti. I haven’t visited it personally, but I did research this ministry extensively when it was looking like our church might send a team there a couple of years ago. I have since kept tabs on how things are going as they continue to rescue and care for orphans. Haiti is still in very desperate need since the earthquake. Thousands of people are still living in tent cities (also called rape camps) without clean water, sufficient food, or adequate clothing and shelter. GLA is just one of hundreds of organizations making a daily difference there, but it’s one that I’ve looked into and I’m confident in recommending them to you.
Perhaps you are looking for an organization that is fighting a bold fight against sex trafficking. Ratanak is just the thing you’re looking for! Their work in Cambodia is inspiring, challenging, dangerous, life-saving and still insufficient in the face of such ongoing, unspeakable injustice. Please consider partnering with them in some way.
A little bit closer to home (but not close enough for my liking) is PAXnorth, an urban church plant in Halifax, Nova Scotia, pastored by our best friends, Brad and Shelby Somers. You can browse around their website and see what they’re up to. You can well imagine (or maybe you can’t, so I’ll just tell you), when your congregation is filled with people who are living in poverty, there isn’t much in the offering plate each week. God always provides in other ways to meet the church’s needs and to allow them to keep serving homeless people, drug addicts, prostitutes, teen moms, abused kids etc. If you would like to be one of those “other ways”, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask how you can make a donation.
In a completely different vein (heh heh, that’s funny. Keep reading.), let’s talk about blood donation and other such things. If you are a healthy adult, you should be giving blood. It’s free and it saves lives. And you get cookies and juice. Go to www.blood.ca to get started. Next, you should be an organ donor. Just because you’ve signed that little form that comes with your driver’s license doesn’t mean you are a registered organ donor. Go to www.beadonor.ca to make sure you are registered. (Edit: This website is for residents of Ontario. If you live elsewhere, a quick google search will help you figure out where to register.)
One more thing: have you ever considered stem cell or bone marrow donation? My best friend’s (the aforementioned Shelby Somers) 8-year-old niece was diagnosed with leukemia two weeks ago. They haven’t been talking bone marrow transplants for her yet, but my mind immediately leapt to that. What if it was my child? I would want to already be on the donor list. What if it’s not my child but I’m still a possible match for someone else? I want to already be on the donor list. So I registered online, had a quick phone interview to discuss a couple of past medical issues, received my Buccal Swab Kit in the mail, swabbed my mouth, and sent back my DNA for them to keep on file. Rest assured, if I ever do get chosen as a possible match, I will recount every single detail for you! In the meantime, I am so excited at the possibility. You should do it, too. Tell them I sent you.
Well folks, if you’re still reading – bless you. And I’m sorry. Sorry for boring you and sorry that you were already bored enough to just keep reading. Regardless, there’s my list as it stands right now. If you have had positive or negative experiences with any of my favourites, please share. And if you’d like to add some of your own favourites, you go right ahead and start typing away in that little comments box below.
P.S. Did you notice that I finally figured out how to imbed the websites into my text? I feel another round of lavish self-praise coming on!