Gifts to wrap, food to buy, parties to attend – it seems your to-do list around Christmastime grows longer each year.
You search for the best gifts for your children (or grandchildren) and once Christmas morning comes and the wrapping paper flies off in a flurry, they’re lost in the wonder of new gifts. It’s an exciting time for sure, but sometimes the true meaning of Christmas can get lost in the excitement.
Talking to your kids about generosity during the Christmas season is important, but finding the right time to do so can be difficult.
Give a goat, change a life. If you’re anything like me, you may be asking yourself, How does that work? This time of year, we talk a lot about goats and the impact they can have on a person’s life; especially those living in extreme poverty in places like Haiti and Southeast Asia.
Maybe you’ve seen our photos of cute kids from around the world with their goats playfully draped around their necks and maybe you’ve even given the gift of a goat to someone in need, but have you ever wondered if and how a goat can really change a life?
For me, it wasn’t until I heard Khuki’s story that I began to understand…
Khuki is among the poorest of the poor in her low caste community in Bangladesh. For her, every single day is a struggle. Growing up, she barely had enough food to eat or a shelter to sleep under, let alone the opportunity to go to school. Life after childhood only became more difficult for Khuki.
Like many young girls whose parents can’t afford to care for their children anymore, Khuki was married off by the time she just 15 years old. Five years and almost three children later, Khuki’s husband began abusing her and eventually left Khuki for another woman. Unfortunately, this situation is not uncommon for many women like Khuki, who end up alone, rejected and without any hope in a country that does not typically value women.
Pregnant with her third child and fearful that her two daughters would starve, Khuki had no other option but to go door-to-door begging her neighbors for help. Khuki had reached the end of her rope.
Soon after her son was born, she heard about World Concern’s micro-credit program for the poorest women in her community. She learned how something as simple as a goat given to women just like her —widows, the poor, the hungry and the uneducated—can help give them a second chance. This was the opportunity that Khuki needed to get her life back on track.
Before she knew it, Khuki finally had a stable source of income. She was now the proud mother of three children and one kid goat. Khuki began selling the goat’s milk, allowing her to earn a stable income, save money, and eventually purchase more goats. For the first time in her life, Khuki is able to provide for herself and her family. More than that, she now has a sense of worth and dignity that she has never known before.
“I understand the importance of education and sending my children to school,” Khuki explains, “…the support has opened new doors for me and my family.”
In fact, recently, Khuki has been able to build a small home for her and her children to live in, something she never before would have thought possible. And to think, it all started with a goat!
Now through midnight tonight, Tuesday, November 28th, your gift will multiply when you give a goat to someone just like Khuki, changing not one but two lives this Christmas season!
Every year, Reneé Smith’s family draws names for their Christmas gift exchange. It just so happened that in 2012, it was Reneé’s turn to buy a gift for her sister-in-law Patti.
Patti was battling a recurrence of breast cancer that had spread to her bones and liver. Christmas would be different for everyone that year.
“The news was devastating for all of us,” recalled Reneé.
Patti’s loving and generous spirit was evident in her family relationships. She was a wonderful mom and aunt to her nieces and nephews, and a former preschool teacher who loved children. But she was also an introvert—a quiet person who struggled to come to terms with the fact she was dying.
“She was terrified of dying and leaving her kids and her husband,” said Reneé.
Reneé felt led to help Patti, but their personalities where so different, and she felt unsure of how best to help. She started by just showing up. They lived three hours apart, but Reneé made the trek to Ridgefield, Wash., from her home in Gig Harbor every other weekend to help take care of Patti.
Over time, Reneé’s calling became clearer through three words she constantly felt impressed on her heart: “Love her extravagantly.” With each chemo visit, the bond between the sisters-in-law grew. Eventually, Patti allowed Reneé to bathe her and care for her in intimate ways.
Reneé started a Facebook page called “Pray for Patti Peace” (Patti’s last name is Peace) where friends and loved ones could stay updated on Patti’s condition. The group had about 100 members who posted regular messages for Patti. It became a great source of encouragement during the dark days of cancer treatment.
As Christmas drew near, Reneé often thought about Patti’s gift. “What do you get a dying person for Christmas?” she wondered.
One day, they were out shopping, surrounded by Christmas displays. They stopped at a table stacked with toys and Patti said to Reneé, “I don’t want any presents this year. I’d rather just help kids.”
That moment, Reneé had an idea. Rather than trying to find a gift that Patti wouldn’t be able to use, Reneé decided to fulfill her sister-in-law’s wish to help children.
World Concern’s Global Gift Guide had arrived in the mail and Reneé scoured it for ideas. “I got so excited. I was seeing all these gifts to help children get an education and animals to help them earn income and feed themselves. I knew this would bless Patti’s heart,” she said.
Reneé and her husband had a set budget for gifts. “Then I thought, wouldn’t it be neat if I had a whole lot more money? What if Patti could help a whole village? It dawned on me that she had all these Facebook followers on her page,” said Reneé.
Not wanting to spoil the surprise by posting on the page, Reneé emailed everyone she had addresses for and asked if they wanted to participate. Within a few days, Reneé had received almost $500 for Patti’s gift.
“It was just amazing to me. Even people who didn’t know Patti, had not ever met her, wanted to show love to her in this way and let them know they cared,” said Reneé. “I’m a church secretary and people would walk in the door and say, ‘Here’s $20 for Patti’s animals,’ or message me saying, ‘I’m mailing in a check.’”
Reneé was able to give 40 chickens, 24 ducks, two goats, and two pigs (all with vaccinations, feed, and supplies) in Patti’s name to help children living in places like rural Kenya, Myanmar, and Haiti.
She could hardly wait for Christmas. Reneé bought stuffed animals to symbolize each gift, and put a tag on each one with a note describing the impact of her gift, “In the name of Patti Peace, a child will receive ducklings, which will provide income and nutrition for years to come.”
On Christmas morning, Patti opened each gift and read each tag aloud.
Reneé will never forget Patti’s joy-filled response. “She looked up at me with tears rolling down her face and mouthed the words, ‘thank you.’”
“It felt like the best gift anyone could give her,” said Reneé.
Patti passed away in February, but Reneé and the entire family are comforted by the fact her memory will live on through the life-changing gifts given in her honor to children in need.
The Christmas season is upon us again, and like Patti’s gifts, yours can also have a memorable and lasting impact on children in need. You can look through the Global Gift Guide to find ways to change lives this Christmas and bring joy to your own.
Have you seen the 2017 Global Gift Guide yet? One of the more popular items are goats, and for good reason. Read about a young girl in Haiti named Fania to find out why the gift of a goat means she’ll get to stay in school.
In the rural community of Mersan in southern Haiti there is a primary school called Ecole Mixte Bon Berger. Since 2012 World Concern has partnered with this school by providing goats and husbandry training to students. With a goat, students are able to earn an income by selling the goat’s offspring and using the money to pay for school tuition and other supplies.
One of these students in Mersan is named Fania Bien-Aime, a shy 14-year-old girl who has a smile that is hard to forget. She lives a 15 minute walk from the school with her parents and six siblings. “I always walk to school. In the beginning it was difficult but now it is easy.”
“I know how to take care of the goat because I learned some things in the training,” she said. “When it’s raining I have to shelter the goat but usually during the day it sits in the shade because the sun is too hot.”
Now her goat is in heat and Fania expects it to become pregnant shortly. When working with communities, the ‘long view’ must be taken into consideration. There may be solutions that would provide temporary assistance to Fania, however this lacks sustainability and requires a handout to be given repeatedly. World Concern is interested instead in long term solutions.
A goat is a treasured asset in rural Haiti because it represents a steady income. “Each year a goat can give between six and nine kids, and she may produce kids for up to 10 years,” explains Pierre Duclona, World Concern’s regional coordinator for southern Haiti.
While a goat and relevant training may not produce immediate results, it will provide students like Fania with a way to earn an income for years to come and give her new skills which she can carry into adulthood.
Fania will soon begin the 6th grade and is looking forward to returning to class after the summer break.
“The sciences and mathematics are the ones I like. I like to study,” she shared. “Education is important so I can help my parents and also for myself to feel good and help in society.”
“I would like to be a tailor but I can’t sew right now. For now this is the profession that is in my head,” explained Fania. “You can get money from this skill because when school begins, parents need to send their children’s uniforms to get sewed.”
With a goat and specific training, Fania is well-positioned to earn an income and therefore continue with her education which will give her opportunities to provide for herself and her family. It is because of your generosity and partnership that we’re able to help keep girls like Fania in school! Give the gift of a goat today.
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?
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.
“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.”
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!
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 Water – Help 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 Balls – Soccer 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.
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.
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
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.
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 donateagoat.org to donate a goat and change a life this Christmas.
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.
Whether you’re passionate about bringing clean water to thirsty African villages, or want to ensure children living in poverty get an education for a better future, personal fundraising is a trend that enables you to make a bigger impact.
It’s pretty simple: Ask friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances to donate to your cause. You can do this by dedicating your birthday for a cause, or designating an anniversary or other special day. Instead of gifts for yourself, you ask for donations to your cause.
You can also do this by participating in an event. Right now, hundreds of people are successfully raising money to help protect children from slavery by participating in the Free Them 5k Fun Run to Stop Human Trafficking. Last year, top fundraisers brought in more than $1,500 each in donations for a cause that’s near to their hearts.
Whatever your passion, here are some tips for increasing your impact with donations from others.
Ask! You’ll be amazed at how willing people are to give if they’re asked. Some of us have received donations from unexpected Facebook friends or others, despite having little contact with them recently. You never know who’s just looking for an opportunity to give.
Explain why you’re doing this. When you share from your heart, others will relate. If you’re a parent and issues like child trafficking touch your heart, tell other moms and dads about why you care.
Carrie Yu, a Seattle mom of two young children, explains why she participates in the Free Them 5k. “As a parent, it’s heart-breaking to think about. I can’t imagine having to make the decision to sell a child into slavery in order to survive,” she said. “I can’t go into the mission field, but I can run for this cause. I can raise money. This is something I can do right now where I am in my life.”
Use your talents to raise funds. Lorene Jansson sells cinnamon rolls at her office as way to boost her fundraising. Last year, she was a top fundraiser for the 5k. This year, she started selling hand-made beaded jewelry as well. “You take your passion, whatever it is, and apply it to what you want to do,” suggests Lorene. “It’s inspiring to see so many like-minded people wanting to do something about trafficking.”
Find out if your company matches donations. This is a super simple way to double your impact immediately and effortlessly. If you’re not sure if your company will match your donations, use our online tool to find out, or ask your HR department.
Spread the word. Use Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, email, snail mail, or casual conversation to tell others what you’re doing. Be yourself and have fun with it. People will respond if they see the real you coming through. As someone who has never been a runner, all I had to do was tell my friends I was actually running and they showed their support by donating. Pretty cool!
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.
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!