Happy Thanksgiving! Today I will be spending the day with Kevin’s family at his aunt and uncle’s home. Before we head over I plan on watching some of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade which I love to do each year. The Bears also play today so I’m sure football watching will also take place. However you are spending today, I hope you have a wonderful holiday!
Our small group is currently going through the New Testament Challenge and one of the things we talked about recently is how every time you see Jesus pray in the Bible, He always starts off by praising God and giving thanks. I have so much to be thankful for yet I am guilty of overlooking the good in my life and I focus more on what I don’t have or what more I wish I could have. As I have been studying Jesus’ life and seeing how I should be living, my prayer has been for my heart to change and that I learn to be content and grateful in my current circumstance. I definitely can feel God working on that area of my life and have noticed subtle changes and it feels good not giving into want and jealousy.
In light of all of that, I have been thinking about some different ways I can give back and have put together a list of some great organizations that you can participate with this holiday season.
ONE | Operation Christmas Child – The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. This is a great tradition to do each year as a family by filling a shoebox full of toys, hygiene items, and school supplies to be sent to a child around the world who may not otherwise receive any gifts for Christmas. You can also include a note and a picture of yourself as well. The national collection week was Nov. 17-24 so unfortunately it is too late to participate this year, but definitely something to keep in mind for next year!
TWO | Angel Tree – Angel Tree, a program of Prison Fellowship, reaches out to the children of inmates and their families with the love of Christ. This unique program gives your church an opportunity to share Christ’s love by helping to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the families of prisoners. Growing up our church always participated in this ministry each year. It was really fun to shop for kids who have a parent/parents in prison and then be able to deliver the gifts to them on behalf of that parent. It brought a lot of joy to know these kids will feel loved on Christmas even though they can’t physically be with their parent.
THREE | World Relief – World Relief works alongside local churches and communities around the world to serve the vulnerable. Your generous gift will be joyfully stewarded to support the program area your gift represents. Every year around this time we get a World Relief gift catalog in the mail. Items in the catalog include clean water, goats, chickens, etc. Did you know purchasing one goat ($60) will provide families in Haiti, Malawi, or Zambia with income and daily milk for their children? A couple of years ago our small group collected money and purchased a couple of goats and chickens through this catalog.
FOUR | One Warm Coat – Their dream is that One Warm Coat will become a part of the American lifestyle; that when a coat is no longer needed, people will think of them and donate it; that donors will be warmed by the knowledge that their coats will go directly to children, women and men in need. The other day I was getting out my winter coat out of our coat closet and realized how crowded it was for just the two people living in my house. I counted and between the two of us we have 7 winter coats, 6 fleece jackets, 2 raincoats, and 5 hoodies/pullover jackets. That is a total of 20 coats for just two people! Even with all of that I still complain about being cold during the winter. Talk about eye opening! One Warm Coat is a great way to help those who can’t afford even one coat to keep them warm. You can find a donation center near you on their site.
There are also many different retail companies who give back with every purchase made. Here is a list of sites to consider shopping for gifts this Christmas:
- Headbands of Hope -For every headband purchased, one is given to a girl with cancer and $1 is donated to fund life-saving childhood cancer research.
- She Does Justice – She Does Justice is an advocate for those who need one. It is a space where organizations who are working for the good of others are recognized. It is a community of people who want to show love to the ‘least of these’. A place where we strive to show those in need that they are known and loved. Each month they will spotlight an organization. Each month they will donate at least 10% of their gross profit to an organization to help further their mission.
- International Sanctuary – The mission of International Sanctuary is to empower people rescued from trafficking to transform themselves into survivors by embracing their true identity and worth. The mission is to empower young women and girls rescued from commercial sexual exploitation. By providing meaningful employment through International Sanctuary’s social enterprise, Purpose Jewelry, girls are able to support themselves and obtain job training and experience.
- TOMS – With every product your purchase, TOMS will help a person in need – One for One. TOMS will match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of shoes for a child in need. This year they also launched TOMS Roasting Co. With every bag of coffee purchased, TOMS will provide one week of clean water to a person in need.
- Noonday Collection – Noonday Collection’s mission is to create economic opportunity for the vulnerable. They partner with artisans in the developing world, empowering them to grow sustainable businesses. By creating a marketplace for their goods, they create dignified jobs at living wages. This allows the artisans to earn more in order to support their families. Noonday Collection also donates a portion of sales from adoption trunk shows to place orphans in forever families.
I hope we are all able to feel thankful today and everyday for all of the blessings we have been given! Happy Thanksgiving!