Saturday, November 11, 2006

So this is Christmas ...

My wife introduced me to Operation Christmas Child a few years ago -- and for the second year, my team at work has taken on this annual form of giving as our year end "team event." As most teams in the workplace, we usually participate in the annual ritual celebration -- Christmas time is the time of the year when most of us let go of the grinch, and extend ourselves to others. Instead of doing the usual however -- lunch or dinner -- we've decided again, to pool our resources and send gift boxes to children in developing nations. This year, I had a larger team than last year -- so while we managed around 25 boxes last year, this year, we're sending 40 boxes to children in impoverished nations.

The Operation Christmas Child program is operated by the Samaritan's Purse Christian charity organization. Now I have to state up front that they really do push the Jesus thing. And if you don't already know me, I should tell you that I'm very, very far from being religious -- let alone Christian. This isn't about being Christian or the pushing of the Jesus dope on kids. This is about putting a smile on a little one's face, who may not otherwise have a reason to smile. Regardless of your religious affliction, this is about giving hope, that somewhere out there in the larger world, someone cares. So I tolerate the Jesus pushers, for the children. If you aren't convinced already, take a look at this video. (And if you're still not convinced, you need to relook at the person in the mirror and perhaps do some searching for the human that should be there.)

I know the Christianity thing will rub most of you the wrong way. If so, there are many other ways to give in a socially responsible way. A quick search on Google will provide you with way too many options. One that my wife again introduced me to is the Canadian Food for the Hungry International (CFHI) organization. CFHI is another way to make a direct impact -- to make a difference to individuals in the developing world. With donations to CFHI, you can send money to help with education, health care and sustaining families. You could, for example, purchase fruit tree seedlings, rabbits and other farm animals, for a family. These are provided with the knowledge on how to develop the gifts to not only feed the family, but also to take the excess to market for sale. With CFHI donations, lives could be saved, communities could be made better. My family used CFHI for Christmas presents last year.

This Christmas, perhaps we should all take a moment to pause and ask ourselves what our needs really are. What do we really need? Do we really need more to consume, or can we give each other the gift of helping to make our world a much more caring and prospering village.

"So this is Christmas, and what have you done?"

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