USA (MNN) — Mailboxes are filling with catalogs and inboxes are inundated with holiday specials. When it comes to retail, clearly Christmastime is already here. Is there a way to make gift purchases count toward a greater purpose?
Beth Allen at Food for the Hungry has seen the impact when the whole family gets involved in the spirit of giving by selecting items from the ministry’s annual gift catalog.
“Most everything in our gift catalog is a tool we can put in the hands of someone that has a long-term impact on how families can start to come out of poverty,” she shares. “We’re looking at things that aren’t just handouts that help one time. In the long-term, you have to help people raise their own food, to prepare their own food.”
Seeds and garden implements are a popular gift in the Food for the Hungry catalog, as well as simple keyhole gardens that provide fruit and vegetables for struggling families.
For children suffering from malnutrition, there is Chubby Cheeks, a therapeutic food supplement. “In some Guatemalan communities, more than 80 percent of the children are severely malnourished. When moms are given Chubby Cheeks for their little ones, they watch those children begin to grow strong and healthy.”
Food for the Hungry’s catalog also features health products. “One of my favorites is called the Tippy Tap,” shares Allen. “It’s a very simple hand washing facility that people would hang up next to the latrine. It sounds like something everybody should know, but they lack just one simple piece of equipment.” Tippy Taps require minimal water, and can be installed anywhere.
The gift catalog is also filled with tools for the local church as they work with Food for the Hungry to serve their communities. Allen can’t contain her excitement as she shares another one of her favorites. “We have an audio Bible we are using in northern Kenya in areas where people oftentimes are illiterate and don’t have any other way to hear about the Bible. They will sit around in a group and listen to the Word of God.”
In addition to selecting a special gift for families in other countries, Allen asks for prayer during this holiday season. “I would just continue to pray for the families, that they will have the hope we talk so much about at Christmas. The fact that Food for the Hungry is there, the fact that you as a giver allow us to be there — you empower us to be Christ to those people, something that gives hope. And that’s what Christmas is really all about. It’s about that hope and light. The Light of the World has come into the world.
“People have said, ‘Before Food for the Hungry was here, I knew we had problems, but I didn’t know how we would solve them. I didn’t have any hope we could solve them. And now I have hope for the future; not just for me, but I have hope for my children and I have hope for my children’s children.'”
Allen says, “This Christmas, let’s pray for even more hope.”