Every Christmas, Trenton and I used to head to the Christmas tree lot and pick out a perfect spruce. We’d head to Hobby Lobby, buy the prettiest ornaments and decor, and fill our home with “Christmas cheer”. Then we’d go online and buy gifts for everyone we could think of–parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, best-friends, co-workers, and, of course, each other. It was a magical time, indeed, but very taxing on the wallet, even though we would set budgets. It wasn’t until I moved overseas that I realized just how much money we had been spending on Christmas! There were no peppermint mochas to splurge on, no cute stocking-stuffers in the stores, no Black Friday sales, no Christmas decorations displayed in the stores begging to bought, no tree lots, no ice skating rinks–nothing. I soon realized the money I had once spent on this holiday could now be used for a greater purpose–towards charity!
I hope that you don’t have to move to another country, like I did, to realize how much of “Christmas” is really just a marketing ploy to get you to buy all the things. Instead, you can make the decision now to carve out some finances in your holiday budget to spend on a much more lasting gift–the gift of giving.
I’ve gathered the top 5 charities that I personally love. These are all great causes that use their donations to make a lasting difference in people’s life.
- First up is Project Giving Light
Did you know that 39% of the homeless population is under the age of 18? There are over 28,000 homeless children in Orange County, California, alone. Project Giving Light is a Christian-based non profit organization that provides birthday parties to these homeless children. They want to be a light in each child’s life by showing them love and pure joy. Your donation will help support these homeless children not just by providing a birthday celebration, but also by providing clothing, field trip sponsorships, lunch for school children, school supplies, and pantry essentials. Head to Project Giving Light to learn more and donate.
2. Secondly, we have Wycliffe Bible Translators
Did you know that there are over 2,000 languages that don’t have the Bible translated into their language? It’s so insane to me that we live in the 21st century, yet there are people in the world who don’t have a written language, much less the Bible. By donating to Wycliffe, you can help fund these translations projects so more and more people can hear, and read, the gospel. If you’d like to learn more, head over to Wycliffe. You can donate directly to the organization, or you can browse ongoing projects and choose one to give towards.
3. Here we have The American Cancer Society
Chances are, we all have a family member, friend, or co-worker who has suffered through cancer. It’s one of the most deadliest diseases, but I believe that we are on the brink of finding a way to cure and prevent this illness. By donating to the American Cancer Society, you can help bring hope to cancer patients and play a role in finding the cure.
It only made sense for me to include a picture of my mother. This photo was taken at the Washington Monument, just over one month after her last chemo-therapy treatment, as you can see from my mom’s short hair. She has now been cancer-free for four years! She is a living example of how incredible of a job researchers have been doing on finding ways to heal cancer patients. You can to The American Cancer Society to learn more and donate.
4. Next up is the The Hope Effect
Over 26 million children, world-wide, live without parents. Less than 1% of those children will ever be adopted, so how we care for the remaining 99% matters. The Hope Effect is improving orphan care around the world by providing family-style care that allows orphaned children all the advantages of growing up in a healthy family. Currently, funds are being used to provide family-style care in both Mexico and Honduras. Head to The Hope Effect to find out more. Below is a picture I took a few years ago of a little boy in Honduras. Trust me when I say that children like him can benefit from your generous donation.
5. Lastly, we have the National Resources Defense Council
This organization seeks to protect the basics—air, land, and water—and to defend endangered natural places, with an eye toward how these long-term decisions affect us as humans. After living in China and seeing how the water is massively polluted, the air is toxic, and how the beautiful forests are being destroyed in a way that is detrimental to the natural environment, I have realized just how vital environmental protection is to ensure our survival on this planet. Consider giving by heading over to the NDRC website.
Picture by Kyle Obermann
I hope you will be inspired to give to one (or all!) of these charities this Christmas season. Donating to these organizations will provide a lasting gift that will change people’s lives.
Be sure to share this post on social media and head over to my Instagram for a peak into my daily life in China.