How one family radically changed their Christmas giving

What if your family spent less money on Christmas gifts this year?

What if you focused more on giving and helping others instead?

What if you did something amazing, like bringing clean water to a desperately poor village?

Family at Christmas.
Several generations of Rod Robison’s family gather at Christmas. Last year, they donated enough money for a well in Somalia.

That’s exactly what Rod Robison’s family did last Christmas – and they’re doing it again this year.  Instead of spending hours in crowded shopping malls, spending loads of money on “stuff,” Rod’s entire extended family pooled their money and raised enough to pay for a well for needy families in Somalia.

He said the idea came after his son Jordan, a freshman in high school, did a report how the lack of clean water impacts poor communities – causing sickness, loss of productivity and income, and perpetuating poverty.

Rod, who had given gifts to family members for years from World Concern’s Global Gift Guide, sent a letter to all of his extended family members who gather in Dallas for Christmas each year.  Here’s part of that letter:

“In a real sense, the lack of clean water is drowning people in a cycle of extreme poverty that continues from generation to generation.  That is, until someone steps in to help break that cycle.

That’s what I’m suggesting the Robisons, Herringtons, Hansons, and Lambs do this Christmas.  Break the cycle for one village.

During Jordan’s presentation he held up a catalog from World Concern.  He showed the kids in his class how they could buy ducks, chickens, pigs, or goats for a family caught in the grip of extreme poverty. Or even a well for an entire village in desperate need of clean water.

He challenged his fellow classmates and their families to spend some of their Christmas money this year on someone else.  Someone in desperate need.

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate God’s grace this Christmas than to share some of that grace with someone who needs it badly. Can you?”

Rod’s family members were thrilled with the idea. His daughter, Jennifer, a mom of twin one-year-old boys, said she and her husband had asked for only gifts that helped others, like those in the Global Gift Guide.

Global Gift Guide gift cards.
Some of Jennifer’s immediate family members who received Global Gift Guide gifts for Christmas.

“My parents did a great job of teaching us there are lots of people who had less than us,” said Jennifer. “We have enough stuff. We really wanted to do something for someone else. At Christmas, we’re celebrating Christ’s birth, but what are we really giving to Christ on his birthday? He says, ‘Whatever you’ve done for the least of these, you’ve done for me.’”

The family raised most of the $3,000 for a shallow well in Somalia, but they also had others join their efforts. Rod shared the story on a radio station and one of the hosts asked afterwards if she could donate to their project. They ended up raising several hundred dollars extra and were able to give some animal gifts as well.

“It was very exciting to see it come together,” said Donna Lamb, Rod’s sister. “We were thrilled to be a part of it.”

Rod, who is the host of a radio program called “Radical Stewardship” on the Family Life Radio Network, said he hopes others will consider changing their mindset from one of ownership to one of stewardship.

“We were put on this earth for a greater purpose than heaping stuff on our laps – to use what God has blessed us with to help others,” he said.

Rod suggests families start by taking 10 to 20 percent of what they would normally spend on Christmas and putting it toward helping others. “That’s going to buy a lot of good,” he said. “The stuff you could have bought with that money doesn’t mean a lot, but it means the world to someone else in need.”

See more gifts that change lives at

Car dealership helps drive away poverty

Kurt and Craig Campbell with goats in their dealership.
Craig (left) and Kurt Campbell know that goats like these can have a huge impact on the life of someone living in poverty.

Customers at Campbell-Nelson Volkswagen and Nissan in Seattle might be hearing, “Baaaa!” rather than, “Ho, ho, ho!” this holiday season. That’s because owners Kurt and Craig Campbell wanted to do something to make an impact on the lives of the poor this Christmas, so for every vehicle sold, Campbell-Nelson is giving a goat through World Concern to poor children and families in developing countries.

And car buyers are loving it.

“Our customer feedback has been 100% positive with many of them actually feeling a strong connection to the good that a goat provides to those struggling in poverty around the world. I have seen several customers smiling as they walk toward their new car, holding the plush goat they receive after their purchase,” said Kurt. “We have given 340 goats and are well on our way to reaching our goal of 500 goats by year end.”

Salesman Clint Richardson agreed his customers really appreciate the outreach. “World Concern does amazing work, and we love being part of it,” he said.

“Goats are a very tangible way for us to help people suffering from dire economic circumstances in some the poorest countries in the world,” said Kurt, whose compassion for hurting people led him to visit Sri Lanka with World Concern. One of the most significant things Kurt observed was how the World Concern staff pays attention to individual people, walking with them through their struggles. (Read more of Kurt’s story)

“We’re affecting people’s lives and it’s wonderful,” he said.


It’s Giving Tuesday! Make your holiday shopping matter

You survived (or avoided) Black Friday and Cyber Monday and made it to Giving Tuesday!  A much more meaningful day, we think. Giving Tuesday was created to encourage giving to charity during the holiday season, which we heartily support!

A boy in South Sudan drinks clean water from a well.
Clean water is a life-saving gift. You can provide this for children like this boy in South Sudan, knowing your gift is changing lives.

Here at World Concern, we have a special Giving Tuesday challenge – an opportunity for you to double the impact of your gift. Any gift made to the Global Gift Guide by the end of today will be matched. We’re already more than half way to our goal! After hearing about the success of this challenge, another donor has offered up an additional $10,000 in challenge money. An amazing blessing.

Will you help us reach our goal and ensure the families we work with benefit from these matching funds? If you’ve been thinking about giving alternative gifts that truly impact the lives of the poor this year, today is the day to do it. You’ll double your impact, helping provide life-saving care and practical gifts to twice as many children and families living in extreme poverty.

Here’s a little inspiration – a few of our favorite gifts:

Clean WaterHelp build a well! For families who are used to walking for miles to fetch dirty water, a well is a real blessing.

Give a Goat!Help hungry children with a kid goat. Once full-grown, goats can produce up to a gallon of nutritious milk each day.

Soccer BallsSoccer is more than fun and good exercise—it’s a sport that unifies and builds friendships. A soccer ball shows kids somebody cares.

Thanks for helping us reach our Giving Tuesday matching challenge goal, and for giving gifts that really matter.

Donate a Goat and Change a Life this Christmas

In June, I traveled to Haiti to see firsthand how gifts like goats for kids  and deworming medication are transforming lives there.

Our trip began in some places we’re just starting to work– desperately poor villages with great needs. Haiti is dotted with rural villages that lack development and basic services, like clean water, schools and health care. And to be honest, the poverty in this country can seem overwhelming.

Belony and her brother in Haiti relieve deworming medicine.
Belony and her brother Widlin hold the little white tablets–deworming medicine–that will make their stomach aches go away and allow them to grow.

Children in tattered, dirty clothes and bare feet ran out to greet us. Some had bloated bellies—a likely sign of intestinal parasites. This was confirmed as their mothers and grandmothers talked of painful stomach aches that woke their children at night.

“She has stomach aches all the time—so bad that sometimes she cries out in her sleep,” said Angelicia a mom of two. Her 10-year-old daughter, Belony, a wide-eyed girl with braided hair, looked no older than 7. Her legs were stick-skinny and her growth was clearly stunted. “She doesn’t eat well, and even if she eats, she’s not growing.”

We all watched with excitement as Belony chewed up one of the small white deworming pills we were distributing to children in the village that day. What a joy it was to be able to tell Angelicia that her little girl would be feeling much better very soon!

“I’m so happy … so happy,” she said. “I pray that the next time you come, you will see a change in Belony.” We assured her that this was certain.

As we traveled further along dusty, twisting mountain roads, I began to see evidence of progress and hope in villages where we’ve worked in for many years. After several hours, we arrived in a village I first visited in 2009 called Lyncee. There was such a

Healthy kids with goats in Lyncee.
Here are some of the healthy, happy kids we met in Lyncee, where World Concern donors have been giving goats and changing lives for many years.

contrast in the appearance of the children in this village compared to others we’d seen. Their eyes were bright and their bodies looked strong and healthy. Even their clothes were clean and pressed. The biggest difference I noticed—they were all smiling and laughing as they proudly showed off the goats they’d received from World Concern.

World Concern built a school here in Lyncee, more than 15 years ago. It’s totally self-sustaining now, and the classrooms are bursting with enthusiastic learners. They’re learning math and reading, of course, but they’re also learning animal husbandry through raising and breeding their goats.

Delona, an 18-year-old student who is studying in 6th grade (not uncommon in rural Haiti), received her first goat last year. Her goat got pregnant, and through the sale of that baby goat, she was able to pay for almost an entire year of school.

“It’s all I have, and it’s providing for us,” she said.

As I was talking with the children, a sweet, freckle-faced girl with a cheerful grin caught my attention. I instantly I recognized her as a young girl I had met in 2009.

Marguerite in 2009 and in 2012

Her name is Marguerite (I remembered this because it’s my grandmother’s name). Marguerite is now a healthy, growing 12-year-old! She’s doing great in school and, thanks to support from World Concern donors, she’s able to pay her tuition and other expenses through income from several goats she’s owned over the years.

I was so encouraged to see the progress in Lyncee. When you give gifts through the Global Gift Guide, you are a part of this progress.

Together, we are helping put an end to extreme poverty—one child, one family, one village at a time.

Please visit  to donate a goat and change a life this Christmas.

Why I give gifts that change lives

Jean Myrick, Global Gift Guide donor
Jean Myrick gives life-changing gifts (including goats like this one!) through World Concern’s Global Gift Guide every year.

Jean Myrick doesn’t bother with crowded shopping malls, or hunting for the “perfect” gift for her family members. She uses World Concern’s Global Gift Guide for all her Christmas giving.

“Since my family has grown so numerous, it is impossible for me to know what each one wants for Christmas. Most of them are trying to downsize, and I dislike the idea of wasting money on unwanted gifts,” says the grandmother of 19. “Besides, at age 88, it is difficult for me to go shopping, and there is always the problem of making equal gifts.”

“I use the Global Gift Guide to solve this problem. I choose a number of gifts that sound good to me. I am pleased with how practical and ingenious the possibilities are. Then I ask World Concern for enough gift cards to go around,” explains Jean.  “When we gather for Christmas, I pass out the cards, and people share with the others what has been given in their name.”

Everyone is grateful not to be taking home the wrong-sized sweater or an unwanted knickknack.

“One year for Christmas, Mum gave me the gift of a latrine for a poor village. I was delighted with such a pragmatic gift, knowing the huge importance of safe drinking water and the connection between this and proper sanitation,” said Jean’s daughter, Anne Saenz. “It was great to see World Concern using this to help people in developing nations. Truly a thoughtful gift!”

For Jean, the Global Gift Guide is a practical resource that helps her “shop” for her whole family. But more importantly, she says, “I and my family have the satisfaction of helping meet the real needs of desperately poor people.”

If you’d like to make a difference through meaningful gifts that help change lives, join Jean and thousands of others who are changing the way they give—to their families, and to those struggling in extreme poverty.

Shop online:

Blown away by generosity

Yesterday, a man walked into our headquarters office and said he wanted to make a donation. He ordered a few gift cards for goats from the Global Gift Guide, then proceeded to write a check—for $10,000.

A husband and father of two, he told us he had picked up a copy of the Global Gift Guide at an event and started pondering the tremendous needs of children and families living in poverty, and compared this to his own life. He was moved to tears. He and his family talked, prayed and decided to make this donation.

A World Concern donor in Kenya
World Concern donors help transform the lives of those living in extreme poverty, offering hope for a better future.

Over the past few weeks, we at World Concern have been in an almost constant state of awe at God’s provision for our work through the generosity of others this holiday season. As a humanitarian organization responding to some of the worst disasters in the world, and working in some of the poorest, most difficult to reach places, we have the privilege of seeing the impact your donations are making every day in the lives of suffering people. We never take this for granted.

The gifts that have come in this past year – and particularly this week – have, quite honestly, blown us away. Large or small, they are heart-felt, God-led, powerfully meaningful gifts. Each one has a story behind it. We wanted to share a few of those with you.

After one of her Christmas tour shows, Addison Road lead singer Jenny Simmons had a 13-year-old girl named Kate approach her. She wanted to use her Christmas money to buy a goat in honor of her uncle Clint, a pastor who had been murdered in his own church by robbers. “Taking care of poor people was what he loved to do. I want to do as much as I can to keep his spirit alive. He would have loved buying a goat. This is the perfect present for me,” she said.

At church this past Sunday, a friend handed me a check made out to World Concern for $350 to buy animal gifts for poor children. I looked at her a little confused because the week before she had told me she was sad that she couldn’t buy any gifts from the Global Gift Guide this year. Her husband had been laid off from his job. I hugged her and told her I’d pray for him to find work.

But God touched their hearts that week and they felt led to give, even beyond their current means. “We talked it over, and this is what we want to do,” she said, handing me the check with a smile. More hugs.

It reminded me of the widow’s offering in Luke 21:1-4, where Jesus said, “All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

The gift is even greater when it’s given sacrificially.

We received an email from a college student saying he had accidentally donated more than he intended. No problem, we told him, we can refund the difference. But he sent another message saying that after praying about it, he had decided to leave the donation as is. “It’s a leap of faith,” he said, and was excited to see what God would do with it.

Earlier this week, a family of five with two special needs children donated an entire school for a village in Kenya. Because of this gift, children in this village will be blessed for generations.

Just this morning, a donor purchased a year’s education for two children and wrote this: “This is given in honor of my mother who died earlier this year. She was an amazing mother, spouse, teacher, and advocate for women and children. She had such a tremendous spark of life and hilarious view of the world. She gave of her gifts always, whether to family or to her students.”

Wow. To say we are humbled by the outpouring of love in these gifts is an understatement. Because of these gifts and so many others, we are able to freely give to those in need, reaching the farthest corners of the planet. What a blessing to witness love like this in action.

Thank you to everyone who has given a gift this year. Have a merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

Addison Road singer encourages fans to “give a goat” this Christmas

Addison Road poster
Jenny Simmons helps promote World Concern's work as she tours.

When Addison Road lead singer Jenny Simmons takes the stage, she makes it her mission to encourage her audience with stories and songs of hope. Her winter tour, A Night of Stories, aims to engage people with the idea that they’re part of God’s story of hope and redemption.

“Each one of us has a beautiful calling to be a part of the story,” said Jenny, who weaves stories of personal struggles and perseverance in with songs from the band’s latest album, “Stories.”

But she takes her convictions one step further, encouraging fans to take part in ministry, helping others and giving generously. A passionate supporter of World Concern, Jenny shares the Global Gift Guide video during her shows and provides copies of the guide, a donation jar and even displays a small Christmas tree she decorated with tiny goats, water spouts and other ornaments symbolizing the life-changing gifts found in the catalog.

“It truly is better to give than to receive,” said Jenny, who asked her blog readers to give a goat for her birthday in November. “There is joy that comes in pouring ourselves out in little ways or big ways. It enhances our spiritual life.”

Jenny says she “fell in love” with World Concern while researching our work to help promote the 44-Cent Cure on the radio in Dallas. “The first thing that caught my attention was this idea of being able to reach communities that are so remote and so poverty stricken that others can’t reach them,” she said. “I thought of scriptures that say to go to the ends of the earth. I thought, oh wow, they have found the ends of the earth and gone there.”

Considering herself somewhat of a social policy buff, Jenny appreciates World Concern’s commitment to long-term change. “World Concern walks alongside communities. The truth is, dumping money into communities and leaving is inefficient. It has to be sustainable, real change,” she said, citing education, clean water and elevating the status of women as ways that can help change the future of a village.

“The very last words Jesus said were to go to the ends of the earth and share … we are to care for the widows and orphans. He went to leper colonies and touched people who had never been touched. He loves the unlovable, the untouchables, prostitutes, liars and thieves … it’s a beautiful picture of what he’s called us to do,” she explained.

Jenny Simmons
Addison Road singer Jenny Simmons.

Jenny strives to live a life of service and sacrifice, paraphrasing humanitarian Katie Davis in her mission: “I want to make a difference, no matter how small, and I want to love so hard and work so hard for the good of God’s people that I fall asleep each night filthy and exhausted,” she says. “It’s not always perfect, but that’s okay, because somewhere in the course of that day, I followed God’s call to love people well.”

The Global Gift Guide helps her put her mission into practice as she shares Christmas songs and stories. She hopes others will follow in her footsteps, giving life-changing, meaningful gifts this Christmas.

“What do I want for Christmas? $200 worth of makeup would be awesome,” she said. “But what I want more are things that last and matter eternally.”

Dates and locations for Jenny Simmons’ Night of Stories Christmas Tour can be found here.

Shop World Concerns’ Global Gift Guide online here.

Compelled to help: How one church made a difference

A church yard sale helps famine victims
More than 100 people shopped this church yard sale to help families affected by the famine.

Maria Evans said she and her friends felt compelled to do something to help people suffering in the Horn of Africa after hearing about the famine at church last month.

“It touched my heart when I saw those slides,” recalled Maria, who attends Community Bible Fellowship in Lynnwood, Wash. “Here we are enjoying this luxury, and we complain so much. At least we have water. It’s been a wake-up call for everybody.”

The church members decided to hold a yard sale to raise funds for World Concern’s famine response. Knowing that every dollar would help bring food, water and emergency supplies to families affected by the drought, they got right to work gathering donations of household items for the sale.

After promoting their event on Craigslist and Facebook, more than 100 shoppers showed up for the event, which was held Aug. 26-28 on the church lawn.

“Friends and people from other churches came and bought stuff. Some gave an extra $20 cash donation,” said Maria.

The church raised more than $1,400 from the sale. “We feel good, knowing it will help a lot,” she said.

Church yard sale volunteers
Community Bible Fellowship raised $1,400 to help feed hungry families in the Horn of Africa.

Maria said the church members had so much fun organizing donations, tagging items the night before, and hosting the event, because they knew it would ultimately help desperate families in the drought. “We didn’t even get tired!” she said. “We enjoyed every minute of it.”

Want to help too?

Start a personal fundraiser

Get your church involved

Donate to the crisis

Volunteers organized the yard sale
Church members felt compelled to help families affected by the famine after hearing about it at church.

Sweetening the deal: Cinnamon Roll Fridays help protect children

Fundraising isn’t as hard as it may sound. If you’re passionate about a cause, and have a little bit of creativity, people will get behind you. Here’s what Lorene told us about how she raised more than $700 to help protect children and women from trafficking and abuse.

I first heard about human trafficking several years ago, but took the “put my head in the sand” approach.  It was (and is) so horrific to me that this goes on in this day and age.

Lorene on her way to the race.
Lorene on the ferry on her way to the 5k.

Then, last year a friend gave me a novel to read called “Priceless” by Tom Davis.  I read it but still felt so helpless. The problem is so very overwhelming, and I wondered what I could do about it.  I received the “Free Them” 5k emails last year, but dragged my heels. I have done fundraisers for things like the Breast Cancer 3 Day and the MS Walk, but somehow raising support to stop human trafficking didn’t have a “feel good” element.  I’d have to explain what it is, and how could I do that when I’m burying my head in the sand?

When I got the email this year, I decided to take the step of faith. I would do the fundraising, answer any questions people have about it, and get ready to run a 5K (which I’ve never done before).

First I sent out an email to get support. Then I baked cinnamon rolls to take to work. I’ve done this for other fundraisers and called it “Cinnamon Roll Friday.”  I have Thursdays off to bake the rolls.  One batch makes 15 to 16 large rolls, and I ask for a suggested donation of $3 each. The response from work was overwhelming. Folks were very excited that I was doing a fundraiser for this cause. I held Cinnamon Roll Friday three times and raised almost $400!

cinnamon rolls
Lorene's sweet deal: $3 per cinnamon roll to help stop human trafficking.

I appreciate World Concern’s efforts to stop human trafficking. I signed up to be a part of Women of Purpose, having first heard about this group thru the “Free Them” run.

Anyway, there you have it.  You will see me next year!


Lorene’s efforts paid off. Not only is she helping protect hundreds of vulnerable children, she won fifth prize in our fundraising competition for the 5k, earning herself a $50 gift card to FIVE Bistro & Restaurant.

What are you passionate about? Feeding the hungry? Providing jobs and income for the poor? Bringing better health to other countries? Get creative and fundraise for your cause!

Learning to live generously

Chenal Valley youth group.
The Chenal Valley Church youth group gave $4,500 to help poor kids in other countries.

Kids are so amazing. We just received a check for $4,500 from the 30-member youth group at Chenal Valley Church in Little Rock, AR. The letter below tells how and why this donation was sent. But the reasons are deeper than the letter states. Their Facebook page provides some great resources, including these verses about why we give.

Zechariah 7:9-10, James 1:27,

2 Corinthians 8:1-15, 1 Timothy 6:17

I encourage you to look them up, but here are a few from the 2 Corinthians passage:

At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” – 2 Corinthians 8:14-15

Here is the letter from their youth group:

Dear World Concern,

In December, our youth group created and participated in something we called the One Gift Campaign. We challenged kids to help those in need by asking their parents to scratch one gift off their Christmas list and donate that money to the One Gift Campaign instead. We had several donors offer to match their donations, so everything the kids gave was matched at an 8:1 ratio, up to $500. They hit their target goal, so we are happy to be able to send you a check for $4,500. Not bad for a youth group of 30!

One of the cool things about the One Gift Campaign is that after the money was raised, the kids were the ones who got to decide how it would be allocated. I pointed them toward your website, had them research the different ways they could give through World, and then let them decide where the money would go.

I send you this check with the request that you follow their divisions as closely as possible. Thanks for all you are doing to meet the enormous needs in our hurting world. They asked that the money be divided in the following way:

$600 latrines

$500 barnyards

$1,000 toward machine dug wells

$795  five health packages

$720 children sent to school

$500 shares of a village school

$300 desks

$85 parasite medication (44-Cent Cure)

In Him,

Aaron Kirkpatrick, Youth and Family Minister