For the last few years, my husband and I haven't been big on getting Christmas gifts for each other. We get a few things here and there, but most of the time we just agree not to buy each other anything major. This year, we ordered a Panini Press on sale at Williams Sonoma as our gift for each other.
I think the joy of Christmas really comes from kids---seeing their smiling faces opening up their gifts and being so excited about Santa. I was lucky enough to be introduced to some charities where we can make a difference in the lives of children we'll never meet.
Before I get into this post---this is not about "bragging" about what we do philanthropically---it's about empowering other young people to reach out and make a difference in a child's life. I feel like I have a platform here to really spread a message about giving back and based on the amazing comments I get everyday from my incredible readers, I know I will learn about many important organizations that a lot of you support as well.
Earlier this year, we started to sponsor a little girl named Jenifer in Guatemala through an organization called The Arms of Jesus Children's Mission. My cousins have both gone on a Mission trip with this organization to help build houses for some of these families, so it's an organization we wanted to contribute to because we know it makes a direct impact on the life of a child like making sure they have food and get to go to school. For just $35 each month (a few trips to Starbucks or ordering pizza in) you can help a child get the essentials we take for granted each day. During the holidays, The Arms of Jesus gives you a list of items you can choose from as a special holiday treat for your sponsored child. This year we had them send Jenifer some clothes and shoes and toys. If you'd like to learn more about this organization, please visit their website at: http://www.armsofjesus.org.
(from The Arms of Jesus website)
Every Christmas, we also sponsor a child through CPS (Child Protective Services) through their "Bearing Gifts" program. You can fulfill the wish of a child in care of CPS in Harris County by sponsoring a child and purchasing the three gifts on their wish list. This year, we sponsored a 7 year old girl. She wanted an Easy Bake Ultimate Oven, Girl Tech Password Journal and Hello Kitty CD Boombox. It was so much fun to go to Target and Walmart with my husband to get the gifts for her, knowing that though she is going through a tough time that she may not fully even understand...she will get to smile on Christmas morning like all children deserve to. You can check out the Bearing Gifts website if you are interested. Gifts are due by Dec. 14th. You can also help the organization in other ways, here.
(from the Bearing Gifts website---toys ready to go to each child that was sponsored!)
My boss at work sponsors several families through her church each year so a lot of my co-workers got together this year to sponsor multiple families. A lot of the kids are asking for coats and clothes and some toys---but the most heartbreaking thing I saw on the list was blankets. I don't know why but (maybe due to my pregnancy hormones) I got teary eyed in the car on the way to Walmart because I was thinking of a child asking for a blanket on their Christmas wish list. We got some blankets and some sports equipment like a football, soccer ball, etc. I don't have a specific link for this one, but a lot of schools and churches do programs like this for children and families in need during the holidays. Ask around in your community to see if there is a program in your area that supports local families.
If you can give this year---or any time of year---I encourage you to look into volunteer or sponsorship opportunities where you can make a difference. No matter what you're passionate about, make one of your New Year resolutions to help make the world a better place---it's an easy one to keep (and feel good about all year round) I promise.
Thank you for reading! Please feel free to share below any organizations you support during the holidays (or any time of year).