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 www.globalgiftguide.org.

18 year old humanitarian saving the world

humanitarian megan edmonds
18-year-old Megan Edmonds helped World Concern raise $7,000 for water wells in Africa.

This past weekend, I met a high school student in Arlington, Washington, who decided that her senior high school project would be to benefit World Concern. Of course, I liked the idea.

What surprised me is the execution of her benefit – and the response of the community. Megan Edmonds had heard about World Concern’s projects to bring clean water into communites through the construction of wells. She saw in World Concern’s Global Gift Guide that $1,400 could finance the construction of one machine-drilled well in a developing country. So that’s what she set out to do. Raise $1,400 and build a well.

But humanitarian Megan accomplished so much more.

Through generous donations from her community, she offered more than 20 auction items. Friends and community members bid on the items during an evening event at a local church. After a short presentation about the value and need for clean water, people generously gave for the cause.

Instead of $1,400, Megan raised more than $7,000. That’s enough for five wells.

I don’t know how many lives will be touched because of Megan’s fundraiser and the generousity of the Arlington community. But to be sure, there are people who will be receiving a clean water for the first time in their lives. They will have a much better chance of taking a drink and not getting an intestinal parasite. Or some other kind of disease. Or just a cup full of muddy water. They will actually enjoy taking a drink.

I am inspired to work harder and help those who do not have the basics of life. I know Megan enjoyed the experience of the fundraiser. And I am sure the donors got a thrill as they took a leap of faith and put their money where their heart is. Best of all, though, it really will do some good.

Thanks, Megan!

Here’s an article about the event in the Everett Herald.