November 25, 2014

10 Places You Should Do Christmas Shopping Before Going To WalMart

I think Christmas gifts are overrated. (I will save that sermon for another day.)

But…I do not think that things like helping people in need or aiding sustainability in poor countries or supporting awesome things like adoption and work-from-home-moms and missionaries are overrated. So while you are Christmas shopping, why not support a few good causes along the way? Why not allow your money to kill two birds with one stone: to check one person off your shopping list while also doing something cool like filling a hungry belly?

This list is small. There are most definitely other great causes to give your money to this Christmas (and all year long). These are just a few places we have either shopped at before, or have personal connections to through people we know. No, we can’t support every great mission out there, because there are too many. But one. We can each support at least one this Christmas.

I added a few at the end where you can give money to in lieu of buying gifts at all, because again, spending money on ourselves or on those people we have no idea what to buy for, or on those people who already have everything – which is most of us – is silly.

(Also, you are allowed to take my ranting on Christmas gifts with a grain of salt as I am not a love language “gifts” person. At all. And Christmas is not about being a hater.) 

Places to Shop for Gifts:

1) Noonday Collection

What you’ll find: an assortment of super duper stylish jewelry, bags, scarves, headbands, belts, and home accessories. I mean, so super duper stylish that this stuff could be sold at the Loft. (***Cough, cough, Mom, Amber, Becky, Mackenzy, Madi, Savannah and all other Loft Lovers.)

Who it helps: Both men and women artisans in poor countries such as Guatemala, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Vietnam, as well as families looking to adopt.

Their Mission (as stated on their website): Noonday Collection's mission is to create economic opportunity for the vulnerable. We partner with artisans in the developing world, empowering them to grow sustainable businesses. By creating a marketplace for their goods, we create dignified jobs at living wages. This allows our artisans to earn more in order to support their families. We also offer no interest loans and make advance payments on orders. This way we are able to shoulder the costs of materials and build a lasting relationship based on trust. We offer scholarship programs and emergency assistance. Noonday Collection also donates a portion of sales from adoption trunk shows to place orphans in forever families.

***Make sure to use the link listed above to support my dear friend, stay-at-home-mom, and Noonday Ambassador, Shari Meyering!

What you’ll find: Everything. Who doesn’t shop Amazon during the holidays? This is probably the coolest thing I have heard a major company doing in awhile. All you do is click the link above, shop what you normally shop for on Amazon, and a part of the money you spend on Amazon goes to a great cause. It does not cost you any extra money!

Who it helps: There are many “tiny URLs” you can shop through for a variety of causes. This specific tiny URL is for our dear friends John and Laura Edwards who are in the process of adopting a baby from Uganda. How cool is that? You do your normal Amazon shopping, and a wonderful couple is just a tiny bit closer to raising the funds necessary to bring home their child!

3) Because of Hope

What you’ll find: jewelry sets, necklaces, bracelets, apparel, bags, totes, nativity set, car decal, (and in lieu of gifts, the opportunity to provide education for one child in Uganda.)

Who it helps: Widows and orphans in Uganda (cough, cough James 1:27)

Their mission (as stated on their website): Our mission is to sustainably empower widows and orphans living in Uganda. With every purchase, you provide the opportunity for widows to earn income to support their families. In addition, BOH aims to spread compassionate global awareness within our local communities, uniting people from different continents and cultures with the purpose of generating solutions to the problems that arise from poverty.

***I met Natalie while volunteering at Amani Baby Cottage in Uganda. What her and Because of Hope have been doing since is awesome. You can find a lot of other ways to get involved with BOH on their website.

What you’ll find: Gift Giving - another tiny URL link for Amazon to support Eagle’s Nest through your regular Amazon shopping, and purses, jewelry, books, and bracelets with the Eagle’s Nest name. In Lieu of Gifts - the opportunity to sponsor a child at Eagle’s Nest ($33/month), the opportunity to give the gift of education to a child in need ($550/year).

I love Eagle's Nest. Here is one of our former IAS students helping out at a carnival day for the kids of Eagle's Nest.

Who it helps: Eagle’s Nest is a Children’s Home and Retreat Center in Sololá, Guatemala. They currently care for roughly 50 children. They also run other ministries such as a school for children in the community, a church, a feeding center, as well as house short-term mission groups who come to visit.

***We visited Eagle’s Nest a few times while living in Guatemala, and know many friends who have been on mission trips there as well. Talk about a beautiful, well-rounded, mission in the community of Sololá!

5) Mercy House

What you’ll find: jewelry, bags, apparel, art, the book Rhinestone Jesus (awesome read!), gift boxes.

Who it helps: pregnant teens, single mothers, and women in poverty all over the world

Their mission (as stated on their website): The Mercy House exists to empower and advocate for pregnant teens, single mothers and women in poverty all over the world through awareness, employment and support in the name of Jesus.

***Why? I read the book Rhinestone Jesus and loved it. I think you would like it too.

A few that aren't ministries...but if you're buying these products around Christmastime anyways...

6) Rodan and Fields Skincare Products

What you’ll find: Everything under the sun in skincare – from teenage acne to grandma’s wrinkles to everything in between.

Who it helps: An awesome, fantastic, hardworking mom trying to put herself through grad school.

***Use the above link to shop under my dear friend, Grace, who is a Rodan and Fields Skincare Consultant

7) Jamberry Nails

What you’ll find: Jamberry nails for women and girls – nail decals/stickers that are a fantastic substitute to nail polish. It lasts up to two weeks, and is totally stylish and adorable. And you will save money if you are a regular mani/pedi person.

Who it helps: My awesome, fantastic, hardworking sister-in-law who decided to sell Jamberry Nails.

***Use the above link to shop under Becky’s name as a consultant.

People to Donate to in Lieu of Gift Giving:
(Because honestly, the people we give gifts to in our family do not need everything we get them for Christmas, (and samesies for the gifts we receive.) Why not surprise them with an empty box and instead support people who could actually use our money for a good cause? ;)

8) Gospel for Asia

What you’ll find: Rather than buying gifts for ourselves, you can purchase tools for missionaries and help empower the poor – everything from bicycles to chickens. It’s crazy.

Who it helps: Missionaries among unreached people groups and the poor in areas where the Gospel has not yet been shared.

Their Mission (as stated on their website): Our ministry is about changing lives—both for this life and for eternity. We are committed as a family of believers to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with lost men, women and children throughout South Asia who have still not heard His precious name. We rejoice to see the mighty works of God as individual lives are transformed and whole villages experience the love of Christ. We join our hearts to be the hands and feet of Jesus, for such a time as this. Together, by His Spirit, we can reach this generation. "'Not by might - nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts." — Zechariah 4:6

9) InnerCHANGE

What you’ll find: Support our personal missionary friends in Guatemala! They do beautiful work as they live and work among the poor youth and women in prison in Guatemala. We firmly believe in and love the mission of InnerCHANGE.

Nate & Jenny Bacon – 4461-00
German &Karla Avila – 3181-00
Julio & Melanie Avila – 7431-00

(From the InnerCHANGE website): InnerCHANGE aims to catalyze authentic movements of God’s kingdom among the poor, models holistic ministry for the mainstream Church, and recalls the broader body of Christ to God’s tender heart for the marginalized. Our members seek to exemplify a style of community life befitting an order, placing the well-being of people and the quality of their relationships before programs. InnerCHANGE purposefully attends to the lifelong formation and development of those called to share themselves with the needy.

***Follow the link above and use the Fund Number code listed next to the three names to donate to our missionary friends. You can make a onetime donation or give regularly.

10) Your Church’s Missionaries
Why not bless them with an extra financial gift this Christmas? Why not send a little extra love from home?

Feel free to share this post, pass on the idea to family members, and add the other people and ministries you like to support to this list! Let's allow Christ to do great things with the bounty we have been given! Also, if you are mentioned in this post, feel free to add to or correct any of the information I have here!

Grace and Peace,

PS. We have also shopped/supported these before:

Amazima (Kisses from Katie - every Christian teenage girl's hero)

147 Million Orphans
(I am wearing an adorable shirt from there right now.)