The holiday season is fast upon us, and Christmas is merely a week away. For those frantically trying to find the perfect gift for "the person who has everything," Christian groups are offering unique gift catalogs that feature anything from a dairy cow to a house to school supplies.
In the spirit of Christmas, many Christian humanitarian and development organizations are encouraging Christians to give these alternative gifts in the name of family and friends that will change the lives of the desperately poor in the world.
Instead of giving video games and clothes to their love ones, Christians are asked to give a dairy cow, build a clean drinking well, or provide school supplies for people living in poverty as an alternative gift.
World Vision, one of the largest Christian relief and development organizations in the world, offers more than 100 poverty-fighting gifts ranging in price from $20 to $20,000 in its "2007 Word Vision Gift Catalog." The gift recipient will receive a special card describing the gift that was purchased and the impact it will have on the life of a person in need.
In a drought-prone region, a bull provides milk, meat and income and can help an entire village thrive. It costs $715 to purchase an entire bull, or a person can donate $25 for a share of a bull.
For a more ambitious gift, a person can give an entire animal farm to a needy village. The gift of two sheep, two cows, two goats, two pigs and 20 chickens will offer new hope and lasting impact for a dozen or more families. The entire animal farm purchase costs $2000, or a person can donate $100 for a share of farm animals.
In developing countries, clean water is one of the most needed items where disease-infested water from dirty lakes too often causes illness and deaths. To drill a deep well that can provide up to 2,800 gallons of safe water a day for as many as 300 people would cost $18,000. A donation of $100 can also help purchase a share of a deep well.
Other gifts include a sponsoring an AIDS-affected child to attend school for a year for $70; building an adobe home in Honduras for $4,700; purchasing two Bibles for $36; buying two soccer balls for $16; and stocking an American school with learning supplies for $25.
In 2006, schools, churches, and corporations helped purchased nearly $17 million in life-saving gifts through Word Vision.
Alternative gifts can also help Christian parents give their children a God-pleasing gift that teaches good moral values this Christmas season. In a recent Barna survey, a significant percentage of Christian parents said they purchased DVDs, CDs, and media products for their children, but did not feel comfortable with or had concerns about the content of products. Aternative gifts offer a meaningful present that embraces the life-giving meaning behind Christmas.
Christian humanitarian groups such as Operation Blessing, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, and the Salvation Army also offer their own alternative gift catalog.
On the web: www.worldvisiongifts.org