It’s a Wonderful Time for Giving

It is now 3 weeks until Christmas.  For those of us who like to prepare well in advance, our shopping is down to those last few hard-to-buy-for loved ones.  Procrastinators still have 20 shopping days left and some have 18 or 19 days until they begin shopping.

Whether you have been done with your shopping for weeks or haven’t begun, there is still time for you to think of others who are less fortunate.  It isn’t too late to put some money in the Salvation Army kettle or buy a gift for a needy child.

In case you haven’t decide which worthy charity to support this year, I am offering up a few of my favorites.

Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child–The ministry founded by Franklin Graham has provided shoe box gifts to 157 million children in impoverished countries for 25 years.  It’s too late to drop off a box at a collection point, but there is still time to build a shoe box online.   For a $25 donation, you can select items for a boy or girl.   You pick the age range and are lead through the process of picking a Wow item, 2 small toys, and 3 accessories.  Essential items, including toothbrush, comb, crayons, colored pencils, and a notebook, are added to each box.   https://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/

Prison Fellowship Angel Tree Ministry–Donations to this ministry provide gifts to children who have an incarcerated parent.  2.7 million children in American have a parent in prison. Prison Fellowship provides gifts to more than 10 percent of those children using donations collected.  To learn more about this ministry and/or make a donation, go to https://www.prisonfellowship.org/about/angel-tree/.

Toys for Tots–The Toys for Tots toys collection drive sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps since 1947 has another week or so left in their toy campaign to provide toys to less fortunate children.  You can drop off a new toy at a collection bin and the toy will be given to a child in your area.  Or you can make a cash donation.  97% of donations go to provide toys and 3% is used for fundraising expenses.  To find your nearest collection site, go to https://www.toysfortots.org/donate/toys.aspx

These are just a few of the many organizations that are devoted to helping children in your community and around the world have a very Merry Christmas.

“The Lord Jesus himself said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  Acts 20:35.

May your family be blessed as you share His blessings with others this Christmas Season.

Sharing Christ’s Love Through Christmas Generosity

At this time of year, most people are in a generous mood.  The Christmas spirit inspires us to share with those in need and we are bombarded with opportunities to give.  From the Salvation Army’s red kettles to Toys for Tots drop boxes to food drives, there are ample choices for everyone to give to those needs that are most dear to their hearts.  There are so many worthy charities that it is hard to decide which ones to support.  Each year I struggle to balance the desire to give to every great cause while staying within my budget. So I want to share some steps that have helped me in making these tough decisions.

1) Ask God for wisdom in determining which charities to support each year.  If we all followed God’s guidance with our giving, all the needs would be met.

2) Decide how much money you can afford to give and stick to your budget.  I once read a definition of debt as “misguided charity.”  Being overly generous can lead to financial difficulties just as surely as greed and selfish spending.

3) Support charities whose values line up with your own.  As a Christian, I support charities sponsored by Christian organizations.  While I recognize that the beneficiaries of charitable giving appreciate the assistance regardless of the source, I want to share the message of Christ’s love while blessing others.

The following are some of the charities that I have supported over the years.

1) Angel Tree–This ministry of Prison Fellowship provides gifts to children of prison inmates.  They desire to reconcile prisoners with their families by delivering gifts to the children in the name of the incarcerated parent.

2) Operation Christmas Child–A ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Christmas Child has delivered nearly 100 million Christmas gifts in shoeboxes to children all over the world.  Each box contains materials that share Christ’s love and plan of salvation with the recipient.

3) Salvation Army–Through their red buckets and their Angel gifts, the Salvation Army blesses needy children and senior citizens.  The Salvation Army’s mission is to reach the lost, the last, and the least with the message of Christ’s love.

4) Toys for Tots–This toy drive is sponsored by the Marine Corps and Marine Corps reserves and provides toys to disadvantaged children.  The mission of Toys for Tots is to provide a message of hope that will assist children in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens. 

5)  Food banks.  I donate to my church’s food ministry and our local food bank.  It’s hard to share Christ’s love with people who are hungry.  When we feed people, they know we care about them and it makes it easier for them to believe that Christ loves them.

That’s my list of favorite charitable organizations. What are some of yours?  What other ways to you share Christ’s love at Christmas?

Christmas celebrates the beginning of Christ’s earthly journey and the hope that He brought to the world.  As we give Christmas gifts to those less fortunate than us, we have an opportunity to share Christ’s love and the infinitely valuable gift He gave us when He left his home in Heaven to live among man and ultimately pay the price for our sins. Please pray and ask God to direct your giving this year.  If we all give as God leads us, many needs will be met and many lives will be changed.  The true message of Christmas is that Christ came to Earth to change lives.