City of Roses
In Proverbs 19:17, it reads, "He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done."
I truly believe this with all my heart, for if I alone get that warm smile after seeing an orphaned child get that gift he had been dreaming of so long or when an elderly citizen feels comforted during the otherwise lonesome times at a community center when a high school student or girl scout comes to visit, imagine just what God must be thinking.
Within the last four years, I have begged my loved ones to limit their spending on me and give much of my Christmas money instead to contribute to charities to help the needy worldwide. One of my favorite charities I love contributing to is Heifer International.
It is a non-profit 501 organization which every tax-deductible purchase of a gift animal or tree seedling helps families around the world in third-world countries become self-reliant, and ensues also the plants and animals are healthy and are treated with respect under their mooto, "Ending Hunger, Caring For The Earth". And I believe by contributing to this wonderful organization, I am lifting someone or a family out of hunger, poverty and environmental degradation. After all, Christmas is the happiest time of year, and I want to see it I make those in less fortunate communities have something to cheer about this year.
You can also contribute to these other great alternative gift charities:
My Two Front Teeth(MyTwoFrontTeeth.org's vision is to reduce the pain of poverty and help strengthen the bonds of society by bringing simplicity, efficiency, and personalization to the charitable gift-giving process, thereby encouraging all to experience the incredible power and joy of giving)
World Vision(Another great alternative gift catalog)
Charity Commission(U.K based regulator of a wide list of trusted, efficient charities)
Great Gifts(Another great source for alternative, goodwill gift giving)
Charity Gifts(A charity Christmas card/gift shopping mall)
Vetaid(Non-profit, international development organization working for reduction in poverty and increase in food security of people dependent on livestock.)
Generously chip in a few bucks for a box hive so children in Zimbabwe could have honey, or a dowry for orphans in Rwanda, or saris and warm shawls from weavers in Gujurat to protect widows and poor women in north India during the cold winter and to get closer to earning a living wage, anything. Have fun and give a hand.
Finally, try and find some time between now and Christmas to volunteer an hour or two at your local rescue mission. It is the gift of the heart, through involvement and community-building, that helps feed and care for the hundreds of homeless and needy men, women and children. Unconditional acts of kindness is great stewardship. Give generously to make a difference into their lives, become a friend to the homeless! Iíve volunteered myself numerous times before when working at the Denver Rescue Mission, serving french onion soup and warm rolls to a diverse group of residents, helping store away the bread in the storage room, and then, yep, I also was happy to help out with cleaning dirty dishes smothered with macaroni and cheese and ranch dressing. I even got a break time and got to talk to some local residents, who would tell me their own anecdotes and life experiences, and they truly made me feel welcome and all toasty inside each holiday season. Itís an enlightening experience.
So, take some time and help prepare and serve some meals to hometown residents, assist with the stuffing and distrbution of Christmas stockings for the children before Christmas, help out with the Adopt-A-Family program and provide impoverished families presents and a dinner to make their Christmas day special, help pack and distribute food boxes to needy individuals and families, volunteer at the Santa Shop, meet up with two to five friends of yours, call your local Family Rescue Ministry hotline, and set up a mentor session, anything of these sorts is wonderful. Or, you could also always give a monetary gift to help provide hot meals, safe shelter, clean clothes and Christian counseling to hungry, hurting, and homeless people. Itís these simple acts of kindness that bring out the Christmas cheer not only to others, but in ourselves.
I leave you with these words I also find immesnely meaningful:
"When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers, your relatives or your rich neighbors;if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind and you will be blessed. Although they can not repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." (Luke 14:12-14)
Why does Scrooge love Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Itís not because every dollar is dear to him, but because every buck is dear to him! (giggles)
"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other"