Before we get to the meat of this thing, you’ve only got until December 14 at 2359 central to enter the contest for the miserable (but clean) bedsheets and fruitcake. Don’t delay – subscribe now and enter to win!
Back to the topic for the day. Everyone of us knows someone that is tough to shop for at the Holidays. Perhaps even on their birthday. Or Fathers/Mothers day. Or Groundhog Day. That special someone you want to share your love with but can’t find the right gift. Perhaps they’re just the type who has wierd tastes and you never seem to hit the right buttons. Or, like my late father, they go out and buy 8 golf shirts the week before Father’s Day.
No matter the reason you find that shopping so difficult I have some suggestions on the perfect gift: give the gift of love. Give them something so much better than a gift certificate that it will humble your heart. What is that? The labor of your heart and the gift of financial security for good charities.
This year get out of your rut and volunteer. Go and man the phone bank at the local Christian radio station. Volunteer to feed the homeless. But do it the “other” way – do it for two or three dates other than Christmas and Thanksgiving. Lots of people volunteer to do that as a family event on those two days. The charities love the help, but a week later they’re struggling to meet the needs again. It’s not that it’s wrong, but people in need are around all year. Sit down right now and pick 3 dates you can put out for that activity and call the agency. They’ll be stunned when you call and say, “I’d like to come in with my crew and help feed the homeless on April 12th. We’ll pay for all the food and prepare it. We just need your help in doing it the right way.”
And then send the beloved who’s hard to shop for a gift certificate you make by hand that says, “In the name of Jesus Christ I’m sponsoring a dinner for the homeless. We will be feeding 150 people a hot meal in your honor to celebrate your birthday/Christmas/Mother’s day, etc.” Can you imagine the look? When you make the meal, take pictures and turn it into a little book (tons of web applications to do that) and send it to them signed by all the volunteers.
Whoa! That sounds like a lot of money and a lot of work. Not really. I do it twice a year with my good friends Pat and Pam. They round up the volunteers from among their church and work places, and I bring my looney bunch of pals along as well. Four of us meet a night or two before the meal and make up the meatloaf. It takes about 2 hours. Costs under $500 for the whole meal. It feeds about 300 people. We freeze half for emergencies when nobody can make it to help out or sponsor the meal. Two days later I get to the church at 7:30 and put the meatloaf in the oven.
When the other volunteers get there we set the tables, start the gravy, do the noodles, butter the bread, etc. And when the doors open we’re ready to do exactly what Christ has asked of us in taking care of our brothers and sisters. And we do it on days other than Christmas and Thanksgiving. It’s fun. Hard work, but the smiles are awesome. And I get to wear my chef’s coat.[
“But,” you say, “I don’t cook. And I don’t have friends that would do that.” Or, maybe that’s way outside your comfort zone. Cool. Then you find a great charity and donate to them in that person’s name and make up the same card/gift certificate and let them know what you’ve done.
“But there are so many bad organizations out there, I’m not sure if they’re reputable.” Once again, I’m here to help. Below you will find a list of genuinely good organizations that really need the help. They provide Christian programming, shelter for the poor, rescue for animals, Bibles for prisoners, and other great services. You are now officially out of excuses.
And if you feel that you cannot volunteer, or that you don’t have the funds to give, then you should just pray. That’s right. Here’s the link: Prayer Works. Just log on and pray for the people who have requested it. Dont’ make it a paltry stop. Give some serious time in prayer and you will not only feel better but you will be answering a need. And put into your card to Uncle Agzo that you prayed for 7 hours for people in need. And include a note about how it makes you feel to do that work. It might just prompt Uncle Agzo to think about his spiritual life as well. Again, isn’t that one of the things Christ calls upon us to do?
Do you have any further obstacles? I’ve given you labors of love, gifts from your hands, financial options, and the gift of prayer. Is there something I missed? What would you suggest to plug that “gift gap” in your life? And what’s stopping you from doing it right now?
I hope you have a great day. See you tomorrow.
Cayo Christian Academy of Belize
One final favor: when you do this, please leave a comment about what you’ve done. You don’t need to leave a dollar amount, or your name. But I’d like to see what ideas people have come up with, and which charities I’ve listed above they’ve donated to as a result of this blog post. It helps me in my writing.