Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Christmas Giving - How Much To Give to Charity

Beyond our annual tithe, we give an annual Christmas gift to charity. The first year we were married, we filled a box for Operation Christmas Child. This is where you fill a shoe box with small toys and necessities for a poor child in another country. It is a nice program, and one Dan and I thought would be fun to continue with our children.

Our second Christmas together, though, we found a charity that we agree with so whole-heartedly that we give to it as our Christmas gift now, and are strong advocates for it.

Gospel for Asia is an Asian mission agency that sends people in Asia to be missionaries to Asia. This often has more of an impact over sending missionaries from America to third world countries, where the American missionaries often continue to live an American lifestyle, instead of taking on the lifestyle of the native people.

For my non-religious readers, Gospel for Asia does a lot more than typical mission work. They have an amazing livestock program. You can give a pair of chickens or rabbits for $11, a pig for $55, a goat for $60, a lamb for $130, a cow for $375, and a water buffalo for $460. Among many other options including a donation to their medical program, you can give a blanket for $5 or a biosand water filter for $30. These go to needy families and needy communities.

This is something we try to get our church involved in as well. A children's Sunday school class could raise enough money to give a pair of chickens. That pair could produce a flock of chickens that could lay up to forty dozen eggs a year. That makes a huge difference to a truly needy family.

A Sunday school class could also raise money for a Bible for $3, a musical instrument for a missionary for $5, or materials for Vacation Bible School to be taught to children on the other side of the world for $5. This does not need to be limited to Christmas time giving only, but could be incorporated throughout the year, a pair of animals given while you teach on Noah's ark, and raising money for Vacation Bible School during Vacation Bible School over the summer.

We have been giving a bike to a missionary each year for $105. A missionary on foot uses much of their time travelling. A bike makes a big difference on how many people can be reached. We have money set aside for this gift this year.

Another option that I saw this year was something for the "Untouchable" caste in India. It is a child hope pack that allows a child of the "Untouchable" caste to go to school. For $50, "your gift helps provide school uniforms, books, tutoring and help with homework, at least one nutritious meal each day and a yearly medical checkup."

One thing I love about Gospel for Asia is that whether you have a little or a lot to give, you can know you are making a difference. There is really so much they are doing to help both physically and spiritually. I would encourage people to go to their website and poke around a bit. They have a bunch of free downloads of books, video, audio and more books, so even if you have nothing to give to them, they can still be edifying to you, as they have been to me.

With Gospel for Asia, "one hundred percent of all contributions designated for use on the mission field are sent to the mission field."


Simple in France said...

Emily, that sounds like a fabulous charity to give to. It's all really affordable too. I had a friend who had to give up her sponsorship of an African school child because she couldn't afford it any more!

And 100% of funds earned going to people is also really amazing too as non-profits go. I'm impressed. Thanks for the charity idea.

Scottish Twins said...

Sounds like a great charity!

Mary Ann said...

My sister's family gives to Gospel for Asia. We do the shoeboxes every year and this year, my husband and I are volunteering for a day at one of their distribution centers that we are close to. We also like to give gifts through Samaritan's Purse. They have a catalog similar to GFA where you can choose something to sponsor. Last year we gave in some of our family members names. They all loved it and some have requested that we do that this year as their whole gift! The prices range from $4 on up, so really it's something that can be accomplished on any budget!

Devon said...

When you gave the name of the charity I was thinking 'yeah, preaching the word will really help those starving people' but then I was happily surprised to see the other good things they do! Great idea, great charity!!

Farwood said...

What a wonderful charity! I love the idea of selecting and knowing exactly what your donation is going towards. I don't know if we will make the donations a gift or not but we will be making a donation.

Diana Par-Due said...

I love the shoebox ministry and used to do Samaritan's Purse for that. My Mom always gave to Gospel in Asia and I'd forgotten about it but thank you so much for reminding me!

Moxie said...

It is such a wonderful thing to bless others during this time of year! We like to give extra to our local food banks as they try to really reach many during the "foodie" holidays!

Katie said...

That's awesome! My husband and I also give to a charity every year. It's nice to see others do the same.

Debtfreemommy said...

Emily- Thank you for highlighting such a wonderful ministry. Since out daughter was born (this is her 3rd Christmas) we always make a donation of some sort in her name.
The first year we donated to Saint Judes hospital because she has a cousin just a few months younger then her who was being treated for cancer. This past Christmas we donated to the Atlanta Childrens Hospital (we bought our Christmas cards from them and a % goes to their research) and Ronald McDonald house (aluminum tabs donation which fund the housing) because her cousin was being treated there for his checkups and they were staying at the RM House.
We were looking for another mission for this year and I think we have found it thanks to your blog. :) thank you again

Dee said...

I wanted to ask you, do you have an Angel Food distribution site near you? If so, h ave you looked into using their services? Have you broken down cost for that?

Clisby said...

It does sound like a good charity. I'm not interested in the religious aspect, but that's a far cry from saying that religious charities never do any good.

Emily said...

Dee, from what I have seen, it is not such a good deal. On their site now is a 7 lb box of meat for $23, which is over $3 per pound. I don't pay more than $1.50 per pound for meat and rarely pay more than $1 per pound for produce. For people who don't want to put the time into finding better prices, it may be a good deal, but I don't think it's that hard to be getting meat for under $3 per pound. They also have more processed food, cereal and breaded meats, that I don't want.

Dee said...

That makes sense. I was excited for your input as I was thinking about doing it. Good to know!

Anonymous said...

Asia is a continent, not a country. Also, there are several ministries that give the same type of donations to various countries on the continent of Africa, as well as to locations such as Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Asia is not the only part of the world that needs assistance.

Anonymous said...

What part of Asia are they working with? Asia (the continent) spans over a lot of area in that part of the hemisphere. There are Asian countries that most people don't even know are Asian, and not all are underprivileged. Just curious!

Mommy Musings and Meditations said...

I do have to put in a good word for Angel Food Ministries, aside from their box of meat at $3/lb. :) While they do have a few processed foods, their signature box has a good amount of fruits and veggies (the menu changes each month). Although many of us do take the time to find the best and lowest prices on food, some people don't have the time or energy or tips on how best to do that, so Angel Food Ministries fills a nutritional need that I think some other programs are lacking in (WIC for example, although they have started offering produce now). It doesn't work for everyone, but is a good option and a good ministry in my experience! Thanks for your post on Gospel for Asia. Our youth group kids contributed money for two goats through this ministry last year!

amulbunny said...

This is another organization that helps the poor in 3rd world countries by giving them animals, clean water and the chance for a better life:


They help people empower themselves by learning and sharing the gifts.

Emily said...

Anon on what part of Asia:

Other Anon, I never said Asia was a country. I'm fully aware that it is a continent, but thanks for telling me. Of course there are other places that need assistance, but this is where we are giving.

crabcakes said...


I 100% agree about angel food ministries. Too much processed food, we don't eat a ton of meat, and in order to get the produce box you have to buy the main box (which is a lot of meat). I can find healthier foods at better prices myself.

Although you're right, that if you're a single parent working full time and you don't have the time to budget shop than this can be a really good deal.

Marcee said...

We used to support some friends that worked as staff at the GFA office. GFA is a GREAT ministry!!! Totally support them in all they do.

TaraS said...

"Asia is a continent, not a country" - LOL, some people really do scrape the bottom of the barrel for their criticisms. Hey, Anon, is Africa a continent too? My female brain has trouble keeping track of such pesky details. :-p

Jennifer said...

Why don't you take care of the poor children in our own country first? Do you realize how many resources are used in sending trinkets overseas? I'm sure there are many families in your own town that would appreciate gifts.

Anonymous said...

www.omfam.org is a really amazing charity.

Emily said...

Jennifer, I'm not "sending trinkets overseas," nor is that what this organization is about. Even if someone wanted to focus on only physical needs (not spiritual) in Christmas giving, Gospel for Asia provides clean water, medical treatment, education, vocational training, livestock, and buildings. I'm not going to attack how any one else wants to give, but that, in my mind, makes more of a difference than picking up some toys for a local family. Regardless, OUR gift is focusing on spiritual needs, which is why we give a bike, because more people can be reached with the gospel, which is what we care about the most. Everyone needs to give based on their own values.

Anon, oxfam does look like a good charity,

Blessed said...

Jennifer, I completely agree with you about trinkets, and about taking care of the needy here in the US. But here is another way to look at it:

my sister-in-law moved to India to work as a counselor. The first year she was there, she befriended a young man who had--by himself--started an orphanage for boys who had lost parents to AIDS. At that time there were 18 boys between the ages of 6 and 18 living in one room--a clean room, but all they space they had for sleeping, school, meals, etc.

Anyway, when my SIL visited, the room was quite bare, since the boys don't have anything except the clothes on their backs and I think a cup. Except there was a cabinet against a wall--filled with brightly wrapped shoe boxes. These were shoeboxes the orphans had received through Operation Christmas Child, and it was clear that the boys treasured them.

I know some people put plastic trinkets in the shoeboxes, but most I know put in new socks, soap, combs, hair bands, pencils, erasers, notebooks, gum, art supplies like chalk, etc. These are things we take for granted that kids in other countries sometime just don't have. While I am not saying kids overseas who don't have "stuff" need "stuff" from Americans, I think the gesture is appreciated more than we realize, here where every home, even the poorest ones, are usually already too full of "stuff."

We do shoeboxes every year, but with a twist: when one of my daughters has a birthday party, we ask our guests to bring a small something for a shoebox for a girl the same age as the birthday girl, instead of bringing a gift for the birthday girl (who will get plenty of gifts from family). The shoebox is decorated and is the centerpiece of the party table. I have a tub I add to year round whenever I see really good deals on school supplies, etc. and after the guests put their "present" into the shoebox, all the kids get to pick goodies from the tub until the shoebox is full.

The kids learn about generosity while they have a good time, and our guests don't feel like they have to bring expensive gifts, and we don't end up with too much stuff in our tiny house. win-win all around!

I think purpuseful, thoughtful (even prayerful, if you are religious) giving is the point, however you do it.

Dogfood Provider said...

Strange how this post has really brought the crankypants out in people. You never can tell what will agitate folks. I really like to give throug the Heifer Project (http://www.heifer.org/), which doesn't have a religious aspect to its mission but does give sustaining gifts of farm animals and other tools to help people get by in less developed nations.

Recently I have started making a donation to Heifer on behalf of newlyweds. It started because I was kind of resentful that this couple that has been shacking up for like 7 years and already had a houseful of stuff was registered for hand thrown pottery. They are allowed to register for whatever they want, of course, but *I* didn't want to subsidize their stuff. I was also, frankly, a little jealous because single gals don't get to throw a big party and get to have friends buy them all sorts of fancy kitchen toys. Anyway, the couple really liked the flock of ducks I donated on their behalf, and my attitude changed from being really resentful to being quite happy for both the couple and for what their gift would do in their name. Food for thought.

CJ said...

I applaud anyone who decides to give to any charity in any form! What a selfless act. It's a good thing we're all passionate about different things, or else we'd all be giving to the same charity, huh?!

Amber said...

That really is an amazing charity, one that I'd heard of before and have on my list of possible Christmas charity giving every year. This year our church adopted a children's home in honduras and we filled shoe boxes for them.

The one thing I take offense to in your post is this:

"This often has more of an impact over sending missionaries from America to third world countries, where the American missionaries often continue to live an American lifestyle, instead of taking on the lifestyle of the native people."

Please tell that to the Reeds who are living on a house boat in the Amazon jungle. Or the Tovarezs who are living in the middle of a tiny Mexican village. I could go on and on. We just met a missionary to the homeless who lives out of an RV. The point is, saying that American missionaries often continue to live as Americans is completely and utterly untrue and a real knock against missionaries who are giving up their lifestyle to follow God's calling.

Emily said...

Amber, I'm glad that the missionaries you know are giving their whole life to the mission field. You must be part of a godly church community. My husband and I looked at several mission agencies as possible missionaries and found that to not always be the case. In the post, I said "often", not "always." I know that there are many who surrender all, as we all should.

Anonymous said...

Another good 'charity' is Kiva. I put charity in quotation marks because the money you give isn't a donation, its a loan. Kiva works with various groups to find people who want to start or expand a small business. You fund as much of the loan as you like (the minimum loan amount is $25), and as the loan is repaid, you can either reloan the money or get your money back.

I'm not knocking pure charity, but giving people access to small loans helps a lot of people, especially women establish small businesses that have a huge benefit for the entire community. The website is www.kiva.org

Anonymous said...

What a complete waste to send money that could be used for food or medicine to be used for throwing your religion at peole who already have their own religion.

Srishti said...

As an Indian, who is now in India untouchables or anyone who goes to public schools are given uniforms, books and breakfast and lunch free of charge by the government. I wouldn't donate any money to this if I were you. There are however thousands of orphanages, old age homes where they don't have money to house and feed them and so are forced to turn away some people. Check out www.sevalaya.org

Anonymous said...

i just last week bought our charity item for christmas. we did the "give a goat" thru the haitian health foundtion. i was going to do the heifer.org charity, but i found a place called i think, charity navagator or something like that. anyhoo, they have charity ratings and the breakdown of the financials including the salaries of the main people. in my mind, the lower the salary the more legit the charity.

so this cost 150.00. basically it is in lieu of christmas presants for the kids. they are fine with it and will still get a stocking with candy and a couple books and a t-shirt or 2.

why spend just to spend, i say. we buy the kids what they NEED throughout the year and they get some wants too. they love going to taco bell and it's cheap.

please don't think my kids are deprived. they are 9 and 11. (the 9 year old was adopted from china 18 months ago) they share a bedroom and also have a TV, xbox and computer in there to share. they are BFFs and love sharing a room.

we are NOT rich by any means, i'm a SAHM, my husband is a casino supervisor and we have 2 kids and one on the way (thru adoption). adoption is not cheap at all.

i didn't mean this to be so long! LOL

the point is it really is better to give than recieve. i can't stand selfishness.

we will also bring a couple bags of food to our local food bank.

and to the people who say "help people in america" in my mind, if you are an american you always have an OPPORTUNITY. if you live in haiti or many other places, you don't even have a chance.

K said...

Thanks for posting this! It's wonderful to read about how God has led you to bless others who are in need.
I'm confused and saddened by all of the critical comments on this post. God calls his children a body of believers, and he uses all of us as different parts of this body to reach the whole world, which means that some will be led to participate in or contribute to one continent, country, mission, etc. and others to another. I hope that those, spiritual or not, who feel passionately about the needy in their own city or on another continent feel compelled to take action by this post.

Blessed said...

Hey just a quick comment--

I don't think anyone should be sad about any negative comments posted to this topic. Clearly those commenters are being moved to comment negatively by their own baggage, which might be negative past experiences with some aspect of giving (or what they perceive as "wrong" giving). Any topic that makes people feel and think and respond is a good thing. : ) Maybe they are processing something in their own lives that this dialogue will help them work through. And I see WAY more positive comments here than negative, so let's just focus on that!

Kudos to Emily for posting the negative responses!

Anonymous said...

People need to understand that "poor" children in this country is not the same as "poor" in a truly impoverished country. A poor child here is often given food and resources. A poor child in the United States is rich in comparison. Poor children in sub-saharan africa die.

That's why people give overseas. Because poor over there means death.

Amber said...

I just wanted to say that I am, indeed, a part of a very God and Christ centered church. :) We are a missionary Baptist church and we support (not 100% of their support but a small bit), right now, 11 missionaries. It is wonderful! All of them are wonderful people who have given their life to God to live in a specific part of the world where God has called them. Some are in the USA and many are outside of the country. Missionaries give so much, and the very least we can do is something like give them a bike!

I think supporting children in other countries is great, and supporting children in your own country is great, too. Even to the native Indian who said that the untouchables have their basic necessities met... hey, that doesn't mean they're getting extras and don't children deserve extras? When I packed the shoebox for the 14 yr old Honduras girl we adopted for Christmas, I packed it full of stuff that most 14 year olds in the US would take for granted... even the poverty stricken. Hair ties, tooth paste, brush, hard candy, paper, pencils, tooth brush, lip gloss, a watch. The list goes on.

You can't compare poor in the usa to poor in a 3rd world country. You really just can't.

goldenangel1723 said...

While I don't agree with missionaries as a whole, I think the charity part is simply amazing! A chicken or a cow can make a world of difference in some countries.

Granted, I wish you'd actually contribute something like a chicken instead of a bike because honestly, people need those over the missionary needing to "spread the Gospel" some more, but that's just my opinion. -shrugs-

Other than that point, I don't understand what people are complaining about. The poorest person in America is USUALLY richer than the wealthiest person in a third world country. (I uppercased usually because people don't see it otherwise).

daphne16 said...

We try to give locally. Our church does a giving tree and we choose a child. I try to sew some pj's, pillowcase, blanket, knit a hat, scarf, mittens and buy a small toy, book, an outfit, socks and underwear. I usually include some snacks too.

I actually didn't run a Thanksgiving Basket program this year, but ran it for the last 6 yrs (ds is no longer in that school) and miss it very much. The social workers actually picked up the items and delivered them. Every year at least 2 or 3 cried, because some of the families just could not survive with out help and were amazed at how generous the school families were. (the same families were lucky to donate a small box to Salvation Army before I changed the program so it went directly to families)

Emily it is wonderful that your family is able to give and the charity you choose seems great. I too am a sahm and try use our money the best way possible.

Clara said...

Dear Emily,

I read your post on Christmas giving and I wanted to see if you would like to place some banners or links on your blog for Gospel for Asia Christmas Campaign, a program that helps thousands of people in some of the most poverty sticken parts of Asia.

I would very much like to tell you more about the ministy and answer questions you may have.
Your participation can touch many lives.

Clara Serrano

tarynkay said...

On the subject of tithing, if you WERE in debt, would you tithe? I know that you avoid debt, and that you do tithe currently, and that's wonderful. We tithe 10% of our income currently. We are in a significant amount of debt, even though it's the "good" kind- student loans and a mortgage. We're paying this down as quickly as we can, but we may well be in debt for the next 30 years. I don't want to wait 30 years to start tithing, but I was thinking about what you said on your debt post about the money not being yours if you are in debt, and wondered what your take is on this.

Emily said...

tarynkay, I think if I were in debt, I would still see all of the resources provided for me as from God, so I would tithe. Looking at the Old Testament laws, a person being in debt wasn't an excuse not to make sacrifices to God.

tarynkay said...

Thank you for answering, Emily! The Old Testament sacrifices is a helpful analogy.

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