It can get tricky for my family during the holidays when it comes to giving gifts. It seems sometimes that we spend all year trying to teach gratitude for what we have and generosity for others, and then the Christmas season comes around and the first thing we ask the kids is, “What do you want for Christmas?” Of course, because they’re kids, the answers usually have to do with the newest electronic, hottest toy or “that thing from the show with the guy. You know what I’m talking about, Mom?”
I often feel conflicted because I recognize how blessed we are with what we have and I realize there are so many out there who are in need. However, I’m not going to lie, I love giving my kids gifts. I love seeing their faces light up when they see the presents start to accumulate under the tree. I love watching them count and shake and speculate on what is inside. I even enjoy the chaos of Christmas morning when there is paper all over the floor, squeals of excitement and a desperate search for batteries that weren’t included.
In light of that conflict, over the years I’ve compiled a list of companies and organizations that provide a way to satisfy that desire to give gifts to my children and family members, but that also benefit others in our community or around the world.
In case you find yourself in a similar position this Christmas, here is a list of gifts and companies that have a mission to help others with each purchase you make.
(None of these are affiliate links – I don’t receive anything if you buy from these companies. This is purely my own opinion based on what we have done in the past).
Purchase Effect was begun by a friend of mine who is a missionary named Connie Rock, who had a vision to help people around the world with one purchase at a time. Her and her team buys the products from people in countries around the world who make them in order to feed themselves and keep their families off the streets. A portion of all profits go to charity. You can buy things ranging from jewelry and bags to wallets and wall hangings online, or if you’re lucky enough to live in Gainesville, Georgia you can visit their brick and mortar store (I hear there are some awesome boots there).
Trades of Hope is similar to Purchase Effect in that all of their products are made by women in countries around the world who make these products in order to escape poverty, or as they recover from the trauma of sex trafficking. A portion of the proceeds from purchases go to charities which help girls who have been trafficked. Trades of Hope is a direct marketing company, so you may know a distributor personally, but you can also purchase directly from their website.
Truth Tales is a compilation of 15 children’s folktales from India, edited by a friend of mine who is a missionary. The stories are sweet and easy to read, and like most folktales, are followed by a moral. They reflect a rich culture, and are written in a way that children of all ages will enjoy and understand. The profits from sales of Truth Tales will go to build schools in the remotest villages in India and SriLanka. If you are looking for a gift for an elementary-aged child, or you want to help out this beautiful ministry, you can purchase the book here. If you would like to read my review of the book, you can see that here.
If you’re anything like me, you can’t do Christmas shopping without going to Amazon at least once. This year, when you do your online shopping, try going through Amazon Smile. You can still use your Amazon Prime benefits, you still get the same Amazon prices, but on qualifying purchases Amazon gives .5% of the purchase to a charitable organization that you choose. It may not seem like much, but for many of these organizations every dollar counts!
Not to take away from Target, the mall, or other big box stores, but another thing we do is try to buy at least some of our gifts from local, family owned businesses. When you buy from your local shops you are only helping your local economy. Also, don’t overlook your friends that are distributors for direct marketing companies. I have a number of friends who use that to supplement their family income, so if you want to get a gift that will make your sister-in-law happy but will also help a friend buy gifts for her children, why not do both at the same time?
Donate Gifts to Relief Organizations
Another option, especially for people who don’t want gifts or who already have everything they need, is to go through various organizations that offer gifts that directly go to less fortunate families around the world. Compassion, Samaritan’s Purse and Heifer International have paper gift catalogs you can print or order. We have our children go through these just like they do the popular toys catalogs, and they circle the gifts they want on their Christmas list.
For instance, one year my daughter asked to give a chicken for Christmas, and so we donated the $14 in her name for a family to receive a dozen baby chicks. It was fun to see her open up her card that year and get excited because another family was getting chickens because of her.
The gifts at these sites range in price from very low, like $7 to protect one child from parasites, to much larger, such as a $500 heifer that can change an entire family’s life. The three sites that I have used and would recommend are: Compassion, Samaritan’s Purse, and Heifer International.