How one family brings more meaning to gift giving

Sarah Carpenter’s nephew Stephen is 19 years old and in college, but he still enjoys receiving Christmas gifts from his aunt, knowing they will fill a vital need for someone living in poverty.

Ever since they were young, Sarah has given her niece and nephews, as well as other family members, gifts from World Concern’s Global Gift Guide. Over the years, she has discovered creative ways to match gifts to individual interests or even family holiday themes.

Sarah and her nephew.
Sarah and her nephew Stephen.

“When they were little, I loved giving the kids the privilege of picking something themselves,” said Sarah. “I told them I will provide the money and you pick the gift.”

One year, Stephen saw a picture of people fishing with a net in the Global Gift Guide. He related to that because he was learning to fish himself. So Sarah stocked a fish pond in Bangladesh in honor of her nephew for his gift that year and gave him a photo of a man fishing with a net in a pond World Concern had helped him stock. “He posted it on a bulletin board by his desk and kept it there all year,” recalled Sarah.

As an adult, Stephen has continued to help others and make a difference in the world. He worked in a South American village, serving the poor, and spent a summer at Oxford studying the conflicts in the Congo.

“He’s grown into a lovely person,” said Sarah, who hopes her Global Gift Guide Christmas presents were some of the many influences in his life that gave him his passion for helping others.

Sarah has come up with other creative ways to honor family members with gifts from the guide, like the year their family orchard in Yakima became the theme of their celebration. Can you guess what her relatives received from her? A share of an orchard in a poor village. And for the teachers in her life, she’s chosen education related gifts, such as school uniforms and classroom supplies so students in rural areas can attend school.

“I’m conscious of how much all of us have to make our way through the piles of stuff we’ve accumulated,” said Sarah. “I think others are happy to receive gifts that don’t add to their clutter and that honor something they’re interested in.”

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Published by

Cathy Herholdt

Cathy Herholdt is World Concern's Senior Communications Director. With a background in journalism, Cathy honed her writing skills as a newspaper editor and now enjoys sharing the inspiring stories of those World Concern serves. She has served with World Concern since 2010.