Now that we’ve all had our fill of turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie for another year, it’s all down to the shopping, right? Even though Christmas has been in our faces for about a month or so, now that we’re officially past Thanksgiving, the Christmas season is on full blast. And what better way to kick it off with Black Friday?
And Small Business Saturday?
Or Cyber Monday?
Every year the Christmas shopping season seems to begin earlier and earlier, but these three staple days are in place every year. Stores of all kinds feature crazy deals and sales, extend their hours, and generally invite everyone to go a little nuts for a few days and spend a lot of money. If you want to camp out in front of Best Buy for four days that’s your business, but surely there is a better way to save bank.
In recent years, however, a new day has been tacked on to the end of this shopping spree – Giving Tuesday, which happens to fall on December 1st this year. Now, the placement seems a little underhanded, as it comes on the Tuesday after you’ve spent three days spending loads of money on televisions and Star Wars toys. What are you supposed to have left to give after all that? But the intention is good. The purpose of Giving Tuesday is for people and organizations to join together and give back to the community and the world, both in time and money. And that’s not a bad thing, right?
Many people make charitable donations a regular part of their Christmas spending, or else they make donations in honor of someone else, as a sort of altruistic Christmas present. But this time of year, when capitalism seems to rule the day, it is healthy to take a moment, set aside some money, and give to an organization that needs a bit more than a new PS4. While generosity should not be confined to a single day or season during the year, the Christmas season is as good a time as any to think about offering help to those who are truly in need of it.
In honor of Giving Tuesday, and the overall spirit of generosity that hangs in the air this time of year, we’ve compiled a list of some organizations that are doing great work both in our local community as well as in the wider world. If you plan to make a charitable donation or two this year, these are some good groups to consider. Most charitable organizations are non-profits and so rely at least partially, and often completely, on financial donations and volunteer work to fulfill their mission.
But don’t just take our word for it – we encourage you to do some research and find out what organizations are doing work that you’re passionate about, or that are helping to solve or eradicate things that bother you. Read through their mission statements, look for evidence that their work is actually showing results, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about where your money is going. Not all non-profits are created equally.
In the meantime, take a few moments to read through this list and think about ways to volunteer your time and money for the remainder of this year, and throughout 2016. What we have is not our own, and we should never forget the importance of serving our neighbors, both near and far. Remember, generosity isn’t about numbers – it’s about loving people and honoring the God who is great above all else. Let us serve him and serve others with everything we have.
Some Local Organizations
Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry (www.ecccm.org)
ECCCM, based in Newton, is a crisis assistance ministry that specifically works to provide emergency financial assistance to families who need help paying their rent or mortgage, utility bills and fuel purchases, as well as some pharmaceutical needs. ECCCM also houses a food pantry and provides emergency food supplies and clothing to those with demonstrated need. They accept financial donations and food donations, and they have volunteer opportunities on site.
The Corner Table (www.thecornertable.org)
Also located in Newton, The Corner Table is a soup kitchen that serves lunch to people in need during the week, whether they are homeless or simply need help feeding themselves or their families. Throughout the year they also host a number of events aimed at feeding the community and collecting food for those who need it. The Corner Table accepts financial donations as well as food donations, and they are always in need of able hands to volunteer during the week.
Family Care Center of Catawba Valley (www.fcchickory.org)
Based in Hickory, Family Care Center of Catawba Valley offers an emergency housing program to homeless families with dependent children. Their work is two-fold, however – in addition to offering emergency assistance, FCC also helps families to move forward by establishing a stable income and eventually move into permanent housing. They also employ a social worker that meets with families and helps them with various issues. Like many organizations in our area, FCC accepts financial donations and has volunteer opportunities.
Safe Harbor Rescue Mission (www.safeharborrescuemission.org)
Probably one of the better known organizations in the Hickory area, Safe Harbor Rescue Mission offers a number of programs aimed at helping women recover from addictions and abuse, finding safety and shelter if they are homeless, and providing them with the opportunity to learn skills and earn income. Safe Harbor also operates ReSource Warehouse, a thrift store located just outside of downtown Hickory. They accept donations and have plenty of volunteer opportunities available.
Some Worldwide Organizations
To Write Love On Her Arms (www.twloha.com)
TWLOHA is a pretty well known organization at this point, but they do great work and are always on the lookout for new ways to help people. Jamie Tworkowski originally conceived TWLOHA as a way to help a friend of his who was struggling with addiction and depression, but over the years it has grown into a global community that works to provide support to people struggling with addiction, depression, suicidal thoughts, and self-injury. They are not a recovery center, but they work to offer hope and help to those struggling through encouragement and informing the world about different forms of mental illness.
Heart Support (www.heartsupport.com)
After years of touring the world and hearing the stories of his fans, August Burns Red vocalist Jake Luhrs began praying about a way to help the people he encountered everyday who were struggling with brokenness. The result was Heart Support, a group that works to provide a community where people can come to find hope and encouragement during their struggles with addiction, emotional pain, depression, suicide, and self-harm. While they do work similar to that of TWLOHA, Heart Support focuses their efforts on the punk and metalcore music scene, where songs about pain and brokenness are incredibly common. They work to make sure that no music fan struggles alone.
Preemptive Love Coalition (www.preemptivelove.org)
On the website for PLC you will find a statement that says, “In the face of terror, you can confront fear with preemptive love and remake the world.” The goal of PLC is to stare fear in the face and, instead of backing down or responding with violence, respond with acts of love. They originally began as an organization offering life-saving heart surgeries to children in Iraq and across the Middle East who otherwise might not have been able to get the treatment they needed. In recent years, however, as terrorist groups like ISIS and the violence they perpetrate have spread across the Middle East, PLC has begun offering emergency relief for families displaced by terrorist groups, education for children who live in extremely unsafe conditions, and grants for small business owners who have lost their livelihoods to acts of terrorism. PLC understands that the appropriate response to fear is not violence, but love.
The Voice of the Martyrs (www.persecution.com)
You may already be familiar with The Voice of the Martyrs, as they are one of the most well known organizations working to support Christians who are being persecuted and oppressed around the world. While they provide practical relief and support to modern martyrs and their families, their main priority is to continue spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. They work to encourage and enable those facing persecution to continue their work in service of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20), to continue working to spread the word of God and grow the body of Christ.