Each year Dale and I contribute 5% of the gross earnings that we receive from our home business – EasyCall Communications – to Mercy Corps. For 29 years, Mercy Corps has been working in countries where communities are recovering from disaster, conflict or economic collapse. Their mission statement: Mercy Corps exists to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities.
Last year we started a new tradition in our family by directing our donation to the purchase of various Mercy Kits in the names of our 7 grandchildren. Each child was invited to review the types of “kits” available and make their own choice. Several choose “goat kits” because they raise goats themselves. Our grandson who loves bugs, chose the “beehive kit.” Depending on the cost of a kit, some were able to purchase several kits.
As we contemplate the economy this year, we realize that there is very little we all really need, yet there is so much need in other parts of the world. We are thankful to be in the position of being able to again purchase Mercy Kits to help others around the world.
Last weekend we were taking two of our grandchildren on an outing. On the way the kids told us about their mom giving $2 to a “houseless” man with a sign that was standing on a street corner. It apparently made a very big impression on them and was likely the first time they realized there actually were homeless people right here among us.
Our trip was going to include a ride on the Santa Train in Tacoma. Our grandchildren have never believed in Santa Claus, but they still find him amusing, so I asked them both what they would ask Santa for. The 4 year old girl asked for a pony – of course! But the 9 year old surprised me in that he had no ideas. He said he thought he had everything he needed. He ended up telling Santa that he wanted for all the poor people to have enough food. Wow – what a heart of gold at such a young age! Santa said he wanted to keep him!
You just can’t have Christmas with children without having some gifts to open, but like last year, we will be channeling our resources towards Mercy Kits in the kids’ names. Each child will receive a gift card that tells them a little bit about the kit that was purchased in their names.
The Mercy Kit project not only helps those in developing counties, but it is also an excellent tool for getting children involved and educating them to the needs of others. The economy may be bad this year, but I believe it has opened people’s hearts beyond measure to help those who are not so fortunate. I think it’s because we can more easily see just how “wealthy” we are when we have the basic necessities of life when others are struggling just to feed and cloth their families.
Mercy Corps is not the only organization to make an impact, but it an organization I know I can trust to manage our donations responsibly. Other options would include World Vision and Heifer International. Other related sites I’ve found recently are In Lieu of a Gift which allows you to send party invitations with a request for a donation to the charity of your choice in lieu of a gift, and Gaiam fair trade shopping options that allow you to purchase artisanal crafts as gifts or for yourself while empowering craftspeople to preserve their rich cultural traditions and create better lives for their families and communities.
What’s the take away?
Holiday shopping does not have to be extravagent and stressful. By giving a charitable gift in someone’s name, you can spread holiday cheer beyond our borders and gain a sense of well being unatainable in material gifts.