A Christmas Shopping Guide

As we enter the Christmas season, I’d like to offer a few suggestions. Well, one suggestion, really: Stop and think about what you are buying.

The United States is a nation with a lot of purchase power. Why don’t we try using that power for something better than supporting massive toy makers?

Why don’t we try using our money for something better this Christmas?

Here are a few ideas.

1. The Great Commission Catalog. Most of the people on your shopping list don’t actually need anything. Why don’t you give to someone in need in their honor? World Gospel Mission makes it easy: Just follow this link and spend a few minutes browsing different projects and ministries you can support. Mosquito nets in Uganda are $10 a piece. Or send an orphan to school for a year for less than $150. In South Sudan, you can pay for a life changing eye surgery for $50. You will even save money on the wrapping paper.

There is even a catalog geared towards kids. It’s never too early to talk to your kids about giving– or to help them start. Kids (and adults) can even pick larger projects (such as helping provide computers for a school in Honduras) and encourage friends to be a part of it.

(Samaritan’s Purse also has a catalog of projects to which you can give, as do many other organizations. I just prefer WGM because I know many of the people involved in these projects.)

2.  Amani Ya Juu. Kiswahili for “a high peace” Amani Ya Juu is probably my favorite store of all time, anywhere in the world. It began in Nairobi, Kenya as a way to empower marginalized women and there are now branches in  Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, and Liberia. I’ve toured the workshop and store in Nairobi and met women whose lives have been changed by this ministry–and who will go back to their communities with their new skills to teach others. Beware: everything is beautiful and you will want all of it. It’s hard to resist. But it goes to a great cause.

3. The Noonday Collection. A similar idea to Amani Ya Juu, Noonday works with artisans around the world to find hand crafted items and empower people to build sustainable businesses. Again: beautiful (and very interesting) jewelry, accessories, and home goods.  A friend gave me a beautiful bracelet made from metal recycled from old weapons from Ethiopia. Beauty from ashes, indeed.

4. Village Knits. Located in Albania, this ministry gives women in rural villages, who have limited employment opportunities and resources, a way to provide for their families.

5. The Micah Challenge, a Christian campaign dedicated to alleviating poverty, has done hours of research and written the Ethical Shopping Guide, a list of companies with responsible business practices, who give back to their communities and others around the world, and who make good products.

Just a few thoughts! If you know of other good companies or resources, feel free to comment!

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