As you all know, the holidays are drawing near, and everyone is in the mood for giving! And I wanted to present some awesome gift giving options to you. No, I'm not asking you to give me tons of presents. I'm asking you to give to others. Give of your time, give of your heart, give words of kindness, give of yourself. And if you're gonna give out of your wallet, don't give to stores adn shops. Give to those who are really in need.
I recently posted a note on my facebook and wrote down a list of 16 random facts about myself. One of the 16 facts was:
I am passionate about TO WRITE LOVE ON HER ARMS, Rwanda Clean Water Project, and Royal Family Kids Camp
These are 3 causes that I have learned about over the years, and have developed a huge passion for.
This holiday season, make it a point to give to others that are in need of more than just a toy or the latest technology. I know our economy is tight, and I'm not asking you to negate gift giving to others in your family. But maybe this year, get a smaller gift. Or maybe give the gift of your time. Or simplify so that there's more to go around. I will also be giving to these causes and probably a few others, because I believe that Christmas shouldn't always be about shiny gifts, but about time and thought and care, and giving to those in need.
Maybe there are some causes that you are aware of who could definitely use your gift-giving heart this holiday season, or even year round. If you've never heard of these, then just read below as I break them down for you.
>>>>> TO WRITE LOVE ON HER ARMS <<<<<
To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.
As someone who has come from a background of fits of depression, and a 6 year addiction to self-mutilation, I can not help but have a passion for this cause. I have seen my life go from such a dark place into such a meaningful bright place just because people cared about me. I didn't find out about TWLOHA until years after I stopped cutting and burning and hurting myself. But because of people who shared the same heart as Jamie and his crew at TWLOHA, I am a whole person, who loves life, living life to the fullest and wanting to help others climb out of the darkness.
2. RWANDA CLEAN WATER PROJECT
Water is essential to all of our lives. In Africa, the water is so filthy, you would hesitate to wash your hands in it, let alone drink it. Eighty percent of deaths in developing countries are caused by water-born illnesses. Most people in Rwanda have no access to clean water leading to health conditions. What if we could do something about this injustice happening on the other side of the world? By identifying a specific need and working together, the church could provide thousands of Rwandan people with clean water and cut the rate of illness in half.
Since October 2005, the Rwanda Clean Water Project has partnered with Catalyst to raise money for families that lack the basic necessity of clean water. We have hit our goal of $1 million but not everyone in Rwanda has clean water, so our job isn't done. Please help us by finding a creative way for you and your church, organization or family to get involved.
There is no doubt that you desire to help children in need all over the world, but what makes this project so unique and valuable to the people of Rwanda?
All projects that are initiated through Rwanda Clean Water are built and operated by local Rwandan people. This results in jobs for the community. Many of the projects even have a team that oversees the continued results from the clean water solutions.
Clean water is known to cut illnesses in developing countries by more than half.
Instead of just giving a one time handout, clean water solutions are being created that will give lasting clean water to communities.
Rwanda Clean Water is working directly with churches and pastors in the communities to find the best location for the clean water solution. By working with the local church, they are gaining influence in the community and servicing the needs of the people.
And RCW is not the only organization who is working to solve this problem. You can also check out www.compassion.com or www.bloodwatermission.com to learn more.
I became aware of this cause because of a conference that my previous co-workers and I used to go to called CATALYST. After hearing about this, I thought to myself, "HOW COULD I NOT RESPOND?" Water is such a simple part of our American everyday life. And yet there are people in this world, who simply don't have the resources they need to get it. So they are dying. They're dying because of disease and malnourishment, but one of the roots of it is not having access to CLEAN water. It's such a simple thing, such an assumed right. And I think everyone should have it!
3. ROYAL FAMILY KIDS CAMP
Royal Family Kids Camp is the nation's leading network of camps for abused, neglected and abandoned children.
Annually, 3 million cases of child abuse, neglect or abandonment are reported in America. One of these victims dies every four hours due to that abuse. But you can make a difference — through your support of Royal Family Kids' Camps. Royal Family Kids' Camps, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity. Donations and gifts are tax-deductible, as allowed by law.
All of the campers are in foster care, group homes or state approved care. Royal Family Kids' Camp takes children ages 7 to 11. So far over 46,000 campers have attended the one-week summer Camps. This summer they will have 6,000 campers attending a camp designed specifically for them.
Birthing, training & supporting camps for abused children.
Create positive memories for abused and neglected children ages 7-11, in a one-week camp experience.
To serve 100,000 foster children annually by the year 2030.
As a student in Master's Commission of Austin, I had the awesome opportunity to serve as both an Assistant Counselor and a Head Counselor for kids at the camp hosted by my local church in Austin (www.gtaustin.com). The experience I gained from working at this camp has changed my life completely. These kids grow up in the foster care system, which can often times be so brutal to these kids. Having to jump from house to house, never getting to build solid family relationships... and always faced with the shared thought: No one wanted me.
I remember my first year working at camp, I was an assistant counselor. And during nap time, some of my girls didn't go right to bed. And I pretended to be asleep, even though I was listening to their conversation the whole time. And I spent the rest of the time just crying. Tears were seriously streaming down my face as the girls talked about their experiences at home before being in the foster system. And they started comparing their stories and about how one of them had a mother who would beat her with a frying pan, while another's father would touch her in the bad spots. And how the foster kids would tease and beat up on some of them. One of them was like, "One day I'll be strong enough to fight back."
And the year I was a counselor, I had another heartbreaking experience. As a counselor, you spend hours in training and you learn some pretty important rules. One of the big ones, is not to PROMISE anything to the kids that you are not capable of following through on. These kids, there whole life have been let down. You can't say, "I promise I'll see you again" because you might not. But I had this one girl in my cabin that was in my group. And the last night is always the most emotional. because THEY know they're going home. And for a lot of them, it's not a happy thing. So as I'm tucking the camper in for the night, she asks me if I will come see her before I go to bed. And I tell her I will. I tell her, give me 20 minutes to take a quick break (cause I needed my own shoulder to cry on back in the Staff Break Room) and I would come back. I headed back to the cabin after my break, with 3 minutes to spare. And she was sitting in the hallway next to one of the hall monitors, and when she saw me, she ran up to see me. The hall monitor was like, "She waited out here the whole time for you to come back."
And tears were just burning my eyes. As I tucked her in, she started crying and was like, "Please don't make me go back. Let me stay with you. I can't go back. They hate me and they are mean to me. I can't live there." And as tears were streaming down my face again, my heart broke and I told her, "I can't take you back with me. You have to go back to the foster family. But (she had prayed for Jesus to come into her heart at the camp) when you asked Jesus to come into your heart, He welcomed you into a much bigger family. And since I'm part of that family, I'm going to pray for your safety every chance I get. And when things get hard, just remember that you're not alone." She asked me to sing her a song before she went to bed. So quietly, with tears in my throat, I sang to her a song from the Master's Touch Choir/Frontline called "You're Still God." And after she went to bed, I layed down on my bed, prayed for her, and cried myself to sleep.
Volunteering at RFKC taught me love and compassion in such a real way. And I wouldn't change one moment of my time spent there.