Dear Elizabeth and Emily,
Who knew what your grandmother started years ago when she declared she wanted contributions to charity instead of gifts for Christmas?
We all agreed that none of us actually needed anything material as a gift. Certainly your grandmother didn’t need another porcelain bird. I think she had every one they made—we were about to have to go into the extinct ones and I quite frankly didn’t know where I was going to buy a porcelain Do-Do bird. And nobody has ever been able to shop for your father. He will never have to buy another shirt for the rest of his life. So the idea to exchange charitable donations came just in the nick of time.
When we started exchanging charities for Christmas it opened up our imaginations. It was such a cool idea that we focused on the novelty of it instead of the impact. We underestimated the wealth of these gifts.
The gift to the Save the River people was so touching. I didn’t know if you were thinking of Uncle Doss and how much he loved the Brazos or just how much I enjoy nature. I like to think a little piece of the Trinity was a gift from you to me.
One of the best gifts was the Alzheimers Association gift. I know you were thinking of PaPa Els and his battle with the disease but we didn’t realize how important their support group would be. I never thought of your father as someone who would enjoy support groups but the one the Alzheimers Association offered gave him a place to discuss the challenges of a parent with dementia. It was many gifts from many generous people like yourself who paid for this support group. I’m not sure I ever told you girls how much that gift and that group helped us. Thank you.
The year Elizabeth gave Dad a donation to the Breast Cancer organization we were stumped as to why anyone would give a donation for Breast Cancer to a man. But Elizabeth’s answer made perfect sense: “Because he has a wife, two daughters and two granddaughters- five pairs, ten breasts in all—all females, who he loves dearly and wants to keep healthy.” A few years after that Christmas present I got breast cancer. But the diagnosis was made infinitely more bearable by a new test that had only recently been developed. Because of that test I was able to avoid chemotherapy. And it has taken me a while to connect Elizabeth’s ordinary donation to my own comfort and health. So I say a hearty, if belated, “Thank You.”
Exchanging charitable contributions was one of the best ideas ever. And the beauty of it is that it really doesn’t matter how much you give since I will never know the amount. It really is the thought that counts here.
So here’s my wish list for this year:
Morgan’s Mercy Mansion here in Winnsboro- I know these people well. These are the ladies I go to Bible Study with and whose prayer group I go to on Thursdays. I know they struggle for money. Sometimes they will pray for the money to buy meat at the store or for dental care for one of the girls. I’m in their building at least once a week, sometimes more, and I know they are not blowing the money on frivolous things. I know any donation you make to them is money well-spent.
The Children’s Nutrition Project in Guatemala is sponsored by the group I travel to Guatemala with and I know for a fact this is a worthy charity. I eat lunch with these children every year when I visit. I know there are no “administrative costs” and the donations go straight to the kids. And when we visit and they give us an account of the previous year it’s not in terms of money collected or spent, it’s in how much weight the children have gained and how much taller they are. We play games with them that shows how much more energy they have and how much more alert they are. I like those kind of statistics.
Faith Ministries- Dad and I have traveled with this group to Mexico to build houses for the poor. I went to the town dump in Reynosa and saw the cardboard houses people are living in. They live close to the dump because this is where they scrounge for food. Because of the drug wars on the border we haven’t been able to go to Mexico for two years. They continue to build houses as best as they can and are trying to figure out a way we can go to Mexico without a daily border crossing. The violence has reduced the number of groups willing to come and they’re hurting for money.
Teeth Savers International- I found out last week that the director of this agency is an old friend from Synod Youth Workshop. He came to our church last week to tell how important dental care is in the third world. He spoke of Sierra Leon, a country with two dentists for over a million people. So they’ve developed a method of filling teeth that can be taught quickly and easily and done cheaply. Their mission is to protect the six-year molars of children. The molars are the grinding teeth. If you lose your six year molars all the other molars come in crooked and don’t grind right. Without the grinding teeth you are reduced to soft food for the rest of your life. Dental care is a huge tool to fight malnutrition.
I know all of these groups and can vouch for them. Just to make things easier here’s all the info you need to make a contribution to them this Christmas.
Morgan’s Mercy Mansion
402 S. Chestnut St
Winnsboro, TX 75471
Or you can donate online by credit card
Donations to the Childrens Nutrition Project in Guatemala should be made payable to:
East Dallas County Cluster of Presbyterian Churches (or EDCC if you can’t write that small)
and mailed to the attention of: Frank Karlen, treasurer
Eastminster Presbyterian Church
6550 Samuell Blvd
Dallas, TX 75228
Write “Children’s Nutrition Project Guatemala” on the memo line of your check
You can donate with a credit card at their website: