If you're feeling charitable with the holiday season upon us, or if you're racking your brain over what to get the people who have everything, here are some ideas for making the world a better place.
Whether or not you agree with the political situation in which our country is embroiled, it's important to support the troops who give their lives to protect us every day. You can send a greeting via email to a member of the armed forces at www.operationdearabby.net, or sign a virtual thank-you card at www.defendamerica.mil/thanks. To help service members stay in touch with their families, donate a calling card at www.operationuplink.org.
Unfortunately I just missed the deadline for Operation Christmas Child, which is a wonderful program that sends shoeboxes filled with Christmas gifts to children around the world, but Samaritan's Purse has plenty of other opportunities for donation. Check out the gift catalog or the current Prayer Point.
Probably my favorite charity is Heifer International, a great organization that provides impoverished families with various farm animals. You can give a flock of ducks, a water buffalo, a llama, or, of course, a heifer, to a family in desperate need of the sustenance and income. I think this makes a terrific Christmas gift, as you can make donations in the names of your loved ones, and they'll receive really cute cards with a picture of whatever animal you chose.
Supporting a third-world child costs $28 a month. Give up two lattes or one cocktail a week, and a child will be fed, clothed, and educated. And receiving their letters several times a year is really neat--it's wonderful to see God's work going on. Visit Compassion International to give a child a Christmas gift he or she will appreciate for years to come.
Last but not least, Focus on the Family never ceases to blow me away with their incredible and untiring hard work. For a small donation you can give or receive a subscription to one of their magazines (Citizen is one of the best magazines I know of), and also check out their many books and other materials for really worthwhile Christmas gifts.