I started a little tradition last year with my nieces and nephews: Reading with Auntie Mary (that's what I like to call it)
It all started with my nephew Dalton. He decided that "Auntie Mary" was imaginary b/c he always heard about her, but didn't remember seeing her. This got me thinking. I couldn't afford to visit family as much as I would like to...but I wanted my nieces and nephews to know who I was and how much I loved them! So, I picked my favorite children's book, "Love You Forever,"
and bought each family a copy and made a DVD of me reading it to them...so they can read along with me at their house...and prove to Dalton that I wasn't imaginary!! My SIL told me how she thinks the kids will one day fight over who gets the DVD when they are older...it truly melted my heart.
This year I have decided to send out "Mud Pie Annie." And although they will be getting the book before the DVD this year...I know they will appreciate this heartfelt gift more than more toys...at least I hope so.
I also had to debate about what to get my nephew, who just turned 15, and his step-sister that is about the same age. So, although they may not appreciate it now...I am giving them their choice for a charitable donation in their name...not a large one, but I really don't think they need more stuff, and it empowers to make a difference where they see fit.
I am truly blessed to live in a warm (when I have the thermostat @ my preference), safe home, a car to get me wherever I need, and plenty of food & clothes. And I don't need more stuff. I have already purchased very small, but functional gifts for my extended family that I knew they will use and won't sit in a box or on a shelf.
I was telling my brother about some of my favorite charities...so now I am going to tell you! First here is a website that you can search for various organizations that provides you with a rating based on how they use the money (how much they pay directors vs how much gets distributed to the cause). And here are some I want to highlight
- Fisher House: this is like a Ronald McDonald House for military families to stay in while their soldier is receiving medical care...they are an amazing organization with a very high rating. The 5K I do every year raises money for the Fisher House that will be breaking ground very soon outside of Eglin AFB, where we are currently stationed. After being able to participate in the Casualty Response Team for our last unit...this organization holds a special place in my heart!
- Heifer International: this allows you to purchase livestock, bees, etc that will be sent to poorer areas of the world so they can be more self sufficient and pay it forward to others in their community with the offspring of your donation.
- Kiva: gives small loans to people internationally to help them grow, and has over a 95% return payment rate...how many banks can say that!
The last two organizations were featured on a blog/forum that I find interesting, and I really wanted to share.
There are also hundreds of US organizations and many more local organizations that need help. Just wanted to throw it out there...and trying to spread love during this wonderful Christmas season.