The gifts that keep on giving

By TIM BEELAND,

We were in my hometown — one county to the east of here — Sunday where we attended church services with my dad at First Baptist Newton and later put up his Christmas Tree and decorated the house for the holidays.

It’s bittersweet this year with my mom having died unexpectedly just two months ago, but I’m certain she would have approved. In fact most everything we did was in her form and fashion down to some of the ornaments on the tree which were hand-crafted by her several years ago. And I’m certain she would have approved the going to church part which gets me back to the gist of this column.

Prior to the preacher taking the pulpit a group of children from first to sixth grade Sunday School classes, I believe, took to the stage and told us of their projects to help out the needy this Christmas, and of some of the gifts they had purchased that can’t really be wrapped. Things like chickens, and pigs, and fish, and seeds and even tarpaulins. It reminded me of a column I had written on the Samaritan’s Purse Gift Catalog around this time years ago so I went back into the archives and looked it up. Come to find out it was 12 years ago.

Back in those days our mailbox was almost always stuffed with catalogs displaying holiday gifts of all kinds and many of them I enjoyed browsing through. Samaritan’s Purse was one such catalog because, like the Sunday School children Sunday, it offered gifting ideas intended to help those less fortunate rather than heap more useless stuff upon those of us which have plenty.

After finding the column, I was curious as to how much, if any, things have changed in a dozen years so I googled it and sure enough the catalog still exists on line. I’m not certain about print.

I found out that items like number 41 where one can adopt a box for Operation Christmas Child is still number 41, but the price has risen a little bit from $7 to $9. That gift will adopt a box that has already been packed by kids and senior citizens who spend all they can for the gifts and cannot afford a donation toward the processing and shipping costs.

A brood of baby chickens, on the other hand has gone down from $20 to $14 but the size of the brood had dropped from 24 to 12. The starter brood can grow to feed a family and hopefully then continue growing to be sold at market.

A $70 gift will still provide a dairy animal for a needy family. It not only provides milk and a way to make cheese for the family, it also provides another means for the family to earn an income.

A gift of $55 can give a farming family valuable resources, like supplying drought-resistant plants, teaching farmers to diversify their crops, and offering fertilizer, tools, and training that will help ensure they reap a plentiful harvest. That’s up $10 from 12 years ago.

Only $9 can still feed a hungry baby for a week and a month’s worth of care can be purchased for an orphan for only $35. That’s food, a place to stay, health care and education. Same price as 2007 too.

Just $6, you can give a cozy blanket or other snug bedding to a suffering family and a $35 gift will help us provide enough grains, beans, oil, and other food staples to feed an entire family for one month

There are plenty of other needs that can be addressed through Samaritan’s Purse, but one that struck me this year is something we rarely thought of 12 years ago. A $125 gift can help put a stop to human trafficking by educating people on safe migration and how to avoid abusive employers, “allowing them to live in peace and freedom from bondage.”

Regardless of your ability to spend this season, Samaritan’s Purse has something to meet your budget. Likewise there are many needy charities right here in our own backyard. So, why not make a donation this year and make the holidays happier for everyone.

You can find out more about Samaritan’s Purse at www.samaritanpurse.org.

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