Everyone has "that person" on their Christmas shopping list. The person who has everything and doesn't need or want anything but you still feel compelled to get them something because, well, that's what you do at the holidays! And so there comes the option of some sort of charitable giving in honor of a person. There are lots of great options out there, and if there is a cause particularly close to your heart or the heart of the person you're honoring, by all means go that route. But in case you need some suggestions, these are a few of my favorites.
Heifer International - I really appreciate the mission of Heifer because it's more than simply providing nourishment. It allows neighbors to help neighbors, teaches important skills, and provides some sustainable resources. There are gifts in all price ranges and to all areas of the world. And if you want something to wrap, there are great little cards they will send you.
Simon the Loving Lion - Simon is a ministry of the Pastoral Care department at Children's Hospital. He is a tangible reminder of the presence of God and the love and support of people who you probably haven't and may never meet! This is one of my "pet" causes, in part because I have gotten to share this amazing gift and witness to exactly what it is and what it can do! In addition to the donation of about $20 that covers the cost of the Simon and story book, you also pledge to pray for the child and his/her family, even though you will never know who they are! The pastoral care department has little red rubber bracelets that say "Simon says: 'Pause for Prayer'" or little lapel pins that you can wrap up and give as a representation of your gift.
Friends of Matt Miller - I've said it before and I'll say it again. I am so incredibly blessed to have gotten to know Matt Miller. And I am even more amazed at the way he is continuing to love and serve others through the legacy he has left behind. One thing he was very passionate about was this food pantry, and so this group now exists to continue this work. You can but a T-shirt for $16 (for adult size, youth are cheaper) and all the proceeds go to the food pantry. Or, if your t-shirt drawer is simply full enough, you can donate $25 to donate a box of food to a family in need for the holidays.
UMCOR - For those of you who don't speak Methodist, that is the United Methodist Committee on Relief. They work all over the world wherever there is a need. Whether it's helping folks in the US whose homes and communities have been devastated by natural disasters to providing for healthcare all across the world and everything in between. I can't tell you about everything, but please look at the website and read about their work. I'm sure there is bound to be a project that touches a special place in your heart or in the heart of the person in whose honor you are giving!
Bravery Hearts - This is the one un-gift that is actually a real gift. All the proceeds from the sale of this jewelry goes to support the Bravery Beads program. Bravery beads are a really great program that the kids at UAB who are in the hospital for a while participate in (including our RNICU babies!) For every procedure, test, or experience a new bead is earned. And they get to wear or display these beads however they would like as a symbol of their journey, because no two strings are alike! It's a wonderful program that I love being a part of, and the gifts that support it are pretty stinking beautiful. If anyone shopping for me still needs suggestions, I will gladly take the necklace (see photo above) in the middle size!