Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ideas for Small Groups/Bible Studies This Christmas

This year, our small group is doing something different for our Christmas party. Instead of the usual "white elephant" gift exchange (what an *American* concept!), we are giving each other gift certificates to charities. We'll each purchase a gift certificate/card from a favorite charity and bring it to the party. We'll do our usual game (My husband reads--very dramatically-- How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and every time he says the word "who" we pass the gift in our hands to the next person. At the end of the story, the gift in your hands is now yours!).

One of the ladies had a brilliant idea: We are giving each gift certificate in a coffee mug (now dubbed "a cup of love"), so that as we use the mug through the year, we can remember the charity who received our gift. (The mug I have pictured above can be found here--I think it would be perfect for this kind of gift exchange!)

Here is a list of charities (my favorites) that I compiled for the group. Maybe you have a group that might like to use this idea? Some will involve the buyer choosing how the donation is spent, and some (like Kiva and Donors Choose) give the recipient the fun of choosing:

Charity gift card options

  1. Charity Choice: You choose the amount, buy the card; the recipient chooses the charity from 14 categories of charities.
  2. World Vision Gift Catalog: Give a rabbit, a goat, a soccer ball, etc. Most items are $25.00 or more, but on the lower left side of this page, you’ll find the option to look at items that are “under $20.”
  3. Kenya Kids in Need: This is a charity that I work with a lot. This URL takes you to our online shop. It is set up to allow sponsors to buy gifts (and necessities) for our sponsored children, but you can always put in “greatest need” in the memo line, and they will distribute the item. In the case of an item (like a pair of shoes), they will email you a photo of the child with the item (can take up to 2 months before you get the photo).
  4. Donors Choose: This organization supports U.S. classroom teachers. On this page, you can either have a gift card mailed to you, print it yourself, or have it emailed to the recipient. Minimum $10 donation, and the recipient then chooses the classroom project to support. When it is funded, the person who chose the project to support will receive an emailed "thank you" from the teacher.
  5. Kiva: A little bit different; a gift card for Kiva lets the recipient choose an entrepreneur to support with a “microloan.” Minimum $25. When the loan is repaid, you receive notice that your $25 is now available to reloan, donate to Kiva, or cash out.
  6. The Heifer Project: Similar to World Vision gift catalog; you choose the gift (a share of a gift of trees, or a share of a pig, etc.) and then you can print out a gift card that announces the gift.
  7. LifeChange: This is our very own Vineyard’s program. Cool part: 100% of the donation goes to the charity; no administrative fees or anything.
  8. Compassion International also has a gift catalog; you may purchase a number of items for needy children across the world, like a soccer ball ($13), a chicken ($16), or a goat ($45).
I would love to see Christmas become a holiday where this sort of thing is the norm rather than the exception. (My husband patiently explains to me that our economy would collapse if everyone donated to charity rather than buying unneeded items for each other.... Hmmmm...) But imagine a world where there was this huge holiday, with music and decorations, and concerts, and ... everyone helped make life a little better for someone else!

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