Thursday, November 21, 2013


It’s that time of year - the leaves are getting crinkly, the air smells beautifully smoky from the chimineas in our neighborhood, and plans for gift-giving are becoming ever-present in our minds.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve sat down to work on budgeting for Christmas shopping, which I’ve vowed will not catch me off-guard this year. And so far, it hasn’t – I’ve already finished shopping for most of the people on my list, and I have solid ideas for the remaining gifts I need to purchase and with which paycheck I’ll be able to buy them (yeah, I’m getting THAT detailed). 

But for some reason, this gift-giving season has already felt so materialistic to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love cutesie gifts and sparkly things, but for the past few days, I’ve just felt like I’ve been preparing for “empty” giving. Sure, I’m giving out of love, but my gifts are really going to people who have no “need” – it’s just a gesture of kindness (and let’s be real – we need a LOT of kindness these days).  

While reading Glamour Magazine’s “Gift Guide,” I came across an article called “31 Days of Giving,” a calendar for the entire month of December which has a different charitable organization to give to for everyday of the month. The missions of these organizations range from sending books to those in need in Africa, to providing instruments for US schools who have been undergoing severe budget cuts, to funding the rescue of dogs in puppy mills. 

As a college student, I’m basically too broke to give every day – but I was still inspired to pick a few of my favorite organizations and charities to donate to, and then do more research for others that weren’t included on Glamour’s list. Over the course of the next couple of months these are some of the ways I plan on giving – and I encourage you to give too! Find a group that holds a special place in your heart (whether it be on this list or not), and give back – because the fact that you even have access to a phone or a computer to read this blog entry is proof that you have been blessed abundantly, and it may be your time to bless others.

Along with a brief description of the different charities, I’ve provided a link to the organizations’ websites, so just click on the title of the group! 

As their website states, this is a non-profit organization which “encourages working actors, artists and musicians to voluntarily dedicate their time and talent to children who are battling serious medical conditions.”  This California-based group provides workshops and camps for kids and their families, and donations given will be used towards providing artistic workshops for hospitalized children. 

For each half-dozen of cookies ordered ($22 per half) through this partnership with Momofuku Milk Bar, a portion of the proceeds will be used to provide meals for those in need through the organization FEED, founded by model and designer Lauren Bush and activist Ellen Gustafson.

This organization seeks to develop educational programs for communities in need in Laos, Ghana, and Guatemala. Every $25 donated to the organization will pay for a student’s entire tuition for a year.

Bead for Life is a non-profit that allows for women in Uganda to sell hand-crafted goods such as jewelry made of hand-rolled paper beads, which helps to “[lift] their families out of extreme poverty.” These different goods are available for sale on the organizations website, and they also give the opportunity for supporters to host Bead Parties, where many of the products will be shipped to you to sell amongst friends and family so that you can send the proceeds back to the company along with the unsold goods. 

This Christian organization allows many different ways to give to those in need around the globe – the site allows for you to choose how you want your money to be used, whether it be feeding needy children here in the US, providing clothing and education, and even donating Bibles, soccer balls, chickens and other gifts to children and families around the world in need. Just look under the Gift Catalog section for all of the different options.

This company is a good way to sneak in Christmas shopping for book lovers (they have super fabulous jewelry, clothing, accessories, and gifts) and give at the same time: for every product sold from this website, Out of Print has partnered with Books for Africa to donate a book that will be sent to those in need. 

This organization, founded by Texas natives Shawn and Whitney Koonce, partners with different groups and individuals in their missions to do good around the world. As stated on their website, they “are not starting new programs, constructing buildings, operating schools or orphanages, providing micro-business opportunities or building a church. [They] are helping those who have a passion and desire to do these things, get over the bumps of finances, strategic partners, personnel, etc.” In other words, Tin Roof Society acts as a guide and help to those who seek to change the world, which is an absolute necessity to those getting started.

As most of you know, my dad is a Fire Fighter, and so it goes without saying that anything involving our heroes in the Fire Department holds a very special place in my heart. As stated on the website, “The Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial Fund was founded in 1976 to recognize and honor professional fire fighters and emergency medical personnel killed in the line of duty and to provide funds and assistance to their families.” Every year they hold the IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial Service. As the daughter of a fire fighter, I couldn’t IMAGINE losing my dad in the line of duty, but I know it happens across the country, and I think it’s important to support the families going through these situations. 

Though the Kimbell isn’t exactly a charity, I believe it is always important to support the arts and the preservation and maintenance of art collections. For that reason, I encourage you to donate to museums of your own preference – I feel like I practically live at the Kimbell through my school work, and so it holds a special place for me.

And finally, I encourage those who attend church to give abundantly this Christmas season – your church needs help monetarily to maintain the facility, and the money you give can also be used to support missions across the world. OR if you would rather give in other ways, consider purchasing Sunday School materials or craft supplies for your Children’s Ministries. There are SO many ways to be a blessing within your own church home. 

Happy Giving! 

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