Friday, December 27, 2013

Lottery Winnings



If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money? Dreams of new houses, cars, trips and jewelry may have just begun dancing through your head. It’s a fun game to play. 

And of course, you would give some money to charity, too. 

I recently inherited some money and have both enjoyed the idea of giving some of it away and then have been stuck on where to give it, not because there aren’t enough worthy charities, but because there are so many. Truly, it hasn’t been that hard. I have given to several charities which I support regularly.

What about $40 million, what would you do with it? Fulfill your needs (and a few wants), help out your family and then put some away for a rainy day? 

Or would you give it all away? If you’re Tom Crist you would. The Canadian lottery winner didn’t even tell his children he won for seven months. 

He had what he needed to live, to take care of his children, but what he didn’t have was his wife. She had died nearly two years earlier with cancer. 

So he decided he would put the $40 million in a trust for charities in her honor. His children agreed with him. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all do that? Take the extra we have and give it to charity?

That’s what we should do anyway.

For Christians, the Bible says we should give a tenth of what we make to God. It adds that we will be blessed from doing so. This is one of the reasons why the church you go to is so important. Will your funds be used wisely to help others? Going to a church that has a missions focus is essential for me. My last church had many missions and my new one since we’ve moved does as well.

But I do give to other charities as well. You know that I think we are all blessed when we give. It’s one of my favorite sayings, that when we give, we actually get more back.

So, think about it. What would you do if you won the lottery?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Top 10 Last Minute Charitable Christmas Gifts

With only five days to go, Christmas is getting closer but it's not too late to do something to make a difference this holiday. The unique gift items below can be given with the best intentions—to help others. You can send the notice of the present by email or in many cases, you can print out your own card to hand to your friend or family member. 

 

1.       Spend $25 or more to free forced labor slaves with International Justice Mission.

2.      A sheep from Heifer International - A share is $10 while a whole sheep is $120. Heifer provides all kinds of animals from chicks to water buffalo to families that can use them to generate income and useful resources for the family.

3.      A chicken from Mercy Corps International - for $35, it provides eggs and future hatchlings as well.

4.      A water purifier from Oxfam American Unwrapped - for $35 you can provide a water purifier for one of the more than one billion people who do not have access to clean water.

5.      Mosquito Nets for a family from Plan International - for $50 you can save a family of seven from mosquito-transmitted malaria, the number one killer of children under five all over Africa.

6.      Shelter in refugee camps from International Rescue Committee - $54 provide sets of rope and durable plastic sheeting to help four families construct temporary shelters in refugee camps, keeping them safe from the elements.

7.      Books for children from Trees for Life International - from $5 to $100 you can provide 1 to 20 books for children in their native language.

8.     Small business loan from World Vision International - for $100 you can help an impoverished woman start or expand her business so she can feed, clothe and educate her children. The loans are repaid and then used to provide new loans to others.

9.      Give food for a year to a child so he or she can stay in school for $50 through World Food Programme.

10.  Good Card (any amount) - If you can't decide what to get, then let the recipient decide. You pay for the value on the card and the recipient chooses a charity to which it will be donated.

 

Happy last minute shopping!

Friday, December 13, 2013

This Time of Year



I love this time of year. Not only are we celebrating the birth of Jesus our savior, but everyone is in a volunteering, charity giving mood. You hear of opportunities to help others on the radio and television. There are clothing and toy drives in the Walmarts, drug stores, and other businesses. You only need look around a little bit to find a way to help others.

Some of my Facebook buddies have come up with a way to help homeless people—by carrying gallon ziplock care packages with them in the car. They fill them with toiletries and hand and foot warmers. Some are getting their neighborhood associations together to put bunches of them together.

Here are a few more ideas for things to do: 

1.       Write letters of appreciation: Take the time to write letters of appreciation to people you truly appreciate. Think about the postal service workers, maintenance workers and your child’s bus driver who keeps him safe every day.
2.      Babysit for free: It can be very difficult to find a babysitter during the holidays, when parents have shopping, holiday parties and events to attend. Make things easier for a family with young children by offering to babysit.
3.      Get your feet wet volunteering: call local churches, homeless shelters and soup kitchens for opportunities to help. At this time of year, there are usually plenty of ways to help with just a commitment of a few hours.
4.      Give to a local food bank. When doing your holiday grocery shopping, also get a list of needed items from the local food bank which will be providing food for hundreds of families.
5.      Help a senior do something they love to do but can’t do by themselves. Visit a nursing home and take time to listen to your elders, learn about their lives and stories.
6.      Sponsor a family. Contact local churches to find out if they are providing food or presents to local families in need. Find one that you can help and change their Christmas this year.

Related to the care packages my friends are making, I have an even smaller survival kit that I make for friends, family and whomever needs a lift. The kit includes:

A clothes pin so you can keep it all together
A penny so you never have to say you’re broke.
A marble so you’ll never have lost them all.
Plenty of hugs and kisses (the chocolate ones, feel free to enjoy)
Most importantly, a cross so you’ll know that someone has had it harder then you and He wants to show you how much he loves you.

I pack these little things in a sandwich bag and pass them out to people when they seem kind of down. It makes them smile.

Well, that’s all for today. I feel like I don’t need to share as much as I usually do this month because it’s so easy to find a way to help others this time of year and I think that’s just the way it should be. God bless, everyone!




Thursday, December 5, 2013

2013 Holiday Gifts That Give List



Ten Gifts Under $50 That Give Three Ways for the Holidays – to the Receiver, the Giver, and a Charity! When was shopping ever this much fun?
I am releasing my Gifts That Give List just in time for the holidays and I’m keeping each item under $50. It’s a way to let you know how many retailers are making it easier to be charitable than ever before and that there are some amazing gifts out there that help causes in America and around the world.
1.       Make-a-Wish Star Bracelet for $30.00. I love gifts you can personalize and this one comes with a star attached that you can have engraved. You can get it at Things Remembered which will be giving a minimum of $150,000 to the Make-a-Wish Foundation which grants wishes to terminally ill children.
2.      Handmade glass ornament for $29.50. Use it at Christmas or any time hanging in a tree or window where it can be seen by all. Net proceeds from the ornament will go to fund the ASPCA helping America’s animal population via community outreach, government relations and humane education. Find it at the ASPCA gift store.
3.      World of Good Gift Box for $49. Indulge in a delicious bottle of ONEHOPE Merlot and Madécasse Chocolate bars. Each bottle of ONEHOPE Merlot helps fund treatment for children with HIV/AIDS in Africa. Madécasse chocolate generates income for indigenous African farmers, too. Find it at One Hope.
    4.  Punjammies for $35 in a variety of colors and patterns. These pajama bottoms give girls saved from sex trafficking a second chance at life. The International Princess Project teaches girls formerly held in slavery for sex how to sew and make a living. These great jammies are the result! 
  5. Obakki water bottle for $29.00. What’s great about this water bottle is that it provides water for you and 100% of the money of you spend on it goes to provide wells for people in the Sudan, too. Find it at Obakki.
     6.  Beautifully artistic journals and notebooks for $9-$15 at Denik.com. Created by artists from around the world, these notebooks fund new schools around the world and also help artists get their work seen.
    7.   Argyle blanket for $50 from Blanket America. Blanket America gives one item for every one purchased to stop poverty in America. It also has a Choose Haiti option for blankets and sheets to go to help Haiti.
   8.  Love Boxes for $20.00 to $24.00 from Peace Keeper Cause-Metics. Give awesome Yum balms, mega balms, or lipstick or nail polish while providing funds for women’s health advocacy and urgent human rights issues.
 9.  St. Jude Glass Knot paperweight for $19-39. West Elm will give $5 to St. Jude Children’s Hospital from the sale of each of these assymetrical paperweights.
   10.  Janji Designed Good Running Shirt for $35.00. All Janji running apparel helps to end the global food and water crisis by funding efforts in Bangladesh, Haiti, Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania. They look great, too, with a cool color wrap on the front and back of the shirt! Get them at DesignedGood.com.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Giving Tuesday




Usually on this Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, I put out a list of gifts that give, ones that you can buy that help a charity do its work. But this year, I decided that rather than point out what you can buy to help others, I’d like to point out a new tradition—Giving Tuesday. I will still put out my “gifts that give” list, but I felt it had to wait.

During December 3, Giving Tuesday, individuals will start volunteer projects, make online donations and gather at dozens of events to celebrate the start of the holiday giving season by giving back to the causes they care about most. Want to know where some of these events are? Check out Giving Tuesday.

The U.S. White House reports that more than 7000 partners across all 50 states are taking part. Why should you? Well, let’s think about it.

What does the holiday season really mean? Is it just about having a good time with your family and friends? Is it about the gift of love that Jesus brought when he was born? For most people, no matter what religion you are, the holidays are about sharing love in one way or another. You can share love with your family and friends and then take it to the next level—your world.

Many charities get the majority of their donations in these final weeks of the year because people like to give to help others during this time. Many people also volunteer time to help others during this busy season.

I am beginning to work with a new charity myself next week—the American Red Cross. I will be interning with them in the new year. I am really looking forward to learning more about them and helping them with their mission.

In the meantime, I am making plans for Giving Tuesday. I have several charities that I will be giving to at the end of this year. I’ll start volunteering with the Red Cross on Wednesday. What will you be doing?

If you want some tips about how to give wisely on Tuesday, check out Charity Navigator’s page on Giving Tuesday. Otherwise, think and pray about what you can do to give on Tuesday and in the new year.

God bless!