Five years ago, I received a gift catalog in the mail from Heifer International. It had photos of chickens, sheep, cows, rabbits. I was amazed at the concept: buy a flock of baby chicks (or a a sheep, a heifer, a water buffalo, trio of rabbits!) for a family member or friend, and it would be given to someone in a developing country. These animals, which seem insignificant in our culture, literally save and change lives in other countries by giving a family in poverty the ability to be self-reliant. Thinking it was too good to be true that I could purchase a sheep and change the course of a family’s life, I checked out Heifer International thoroughly before I purchased a sheep for my dear friend and a goat for my parents. Heifer International’s gift catalog was legitimate, and since then, gift catalogs from other organizations have appeared in my mailbox. Usually, I toss the standard Eddie Bauer and Pottery Barn-type catalogs as soon as I get them (too tempting), but I always look through these “catalogs for good” as I call them because I am amazed at how little money it takes to make a real difference.
One of my favorite organizations, Compassion International now has a gift catalog that includes items such as building materials ($20), skilled birth attendant ($100), eye exams and glasses, ($75), support young artists ($20), to name only a few. I’m glad to see all these catalogs for good popping up and providing an an alternative to the catalogs that simply tempt me to buy more stuff for people who have enough.
Here’s my favorite item this year. It’s from the World Vision Catalog:
In countries like Cambodia and India, many girls are forced to drop out of school because they live too far away or risk dangers such as violence or kidnapping on their walking route. Your gift of a bicycle will provide safe, speedy transportation for these eager young students, enabling them to achieve their dreams of education — and a brighter future. Is that a gift, or what?
It’s exactly one week until Christmas. These are last minutes gifts you can find. Most of these catalogs have cards that you can print, so really you could do your Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve and you don’t have to fight the traffic. As you plan your last minute shopping, here is a short list of the catalogs I keep: