During the holidays, my mailbox is flooded with catalogs from Pottery Barn to the most random one-offs that sell leopard print, stiletto shoe wine holders and fancy-pants steam jet, jewelry cleaning machines. But over the last few years, I’ve also started receiving gift catalogs far more unusual. They are from humanitarian organizations.
People often make contributions at this time of year and these days, when contemplating giving to an organization, we want the specifics on where our money is going. In response to this, some humanitarian organizations now offer full-color, pictorial catalogs that describe very specific items and projects for which you can purchase to donate. You shop through the catalog and choose which you’d like to support.
Here are a few examples from Samaritan’s Purse catalog:
- Mosquito nets for malaria prevention ($10)
- Emergency shelter (for disaster victims) ($130 or you can purchase a share of the cost at $13).
- Rescue a Child from Exploitation ($75). This, I think, needs a little more explanation. It provides a rescued child with basic necessities, safe shelter, job training and counseling.
They are tangible. They are specific. And, they let you choose to support a cause that matters to you perhaps for a very personal reason.
Heifer International is another organization that has embraced this gift catalog. In fact, they were the first I ever received. They focus on livestock and agricultural programs as ways to provide a source of income and self-reliance.
A couple of years ago, some good friends of mine made a donation in my name to help a family in the Andes, making me the proud contributor to the cost of a llama (or alpaca…I can’t remember which, and wouldn’t know the difference anyway). But, I thought it was great.
It might be a nice idea to go through one of these catalogs with your children—as a way to see another side of Christmas beyond what they hope to find under the tree. But be prepared. If they are anything like my nieces, I can pretty much guarantee they are going to pick a cute flock of chicks or Angora rabbits to donate. But then, it could be a lesson on what these animals can provide to help their owners. Just a thought.
Have you received these types of catalogs? What do you think of them?