Most likely you’ve seen the acronym WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?). Well, I tweaked that acronym and came up with a better one that’s fitting for the Christmas season: WWJB? which stands for What Would Jesus Buy? Asking this question while pushing a cart up and down store aisles really puts a whole new perspective on the items in a person’s cart.
I struggle every year with the Christmas season and I’m not just talking about what I should buy for the people on my Christmas list. I’m bothered by society’s overkill on consumerism. To me, the majority of the population has gotten too far removed from the meaning of Christmas, its origin, and the whole reason why Christmas even exists. Holiday consumerism has a way of sucking people in (me included), even if they’re conscientious people who are aware of the true meaning of the season and try to focus more on giving meaningful, homemade gifts and humanitarian gift-giving efforts.
Shopping at Heifer International is one way to give at Christmas without feeling like you’ve gotten too caught up in the consumerism plague. It’s a non-profit organization full of meaningful gifts that I think Jesus would buy. All of their gifts help fight poverty and hunger. This organization has a variety of gift animals that can be purchased either in shares or in its entirety, to help people in third world countries be more self reliant through food, income and learning skills. Other gift giving ideas such as training and learning opportunities for women or families are also available. These gifts can be purchased in someone’s honor so it’s like double gift-giving. While giving someone on your Christmas list a gift you’re also giving a stranger a gift and some hope.
I first learned about this wonderful organization through our church’s 4th grade Sunday school class several years ago while subbing for my girlfriend a few times. Her fourth graders saved their weekly Sunday school offering money to buy shares of gift-animals that the kids picked out from Heifer International’s catalog. There are several different dollar amount options that can be purchased. Regardless of how much money is spent at Heifer International, even a small amount is helping someone out. For example, ten dollars will buy a share of a $120 goat or a share of a trio of rabbits ($60).
Citizens of the United States are very fortunate to have such an abundance of agriculture that’s readily available. Other parts of the world are not as fortunate. Part of Heifer International’s mission is to share the world’s resources so that everyone benefits. Presents from Heifer International re-gift themselves in a good and useful way. Buying gift animals gives others something that’s truly needed, is useful and practical, and in turn, will be passed on. The gift animals’ offspring gets shared with others which is essentially re-gifting.
There are fundraising and group-involvement opportunities for schools, churches, families, and other organizations to give also. Special cards are available to give in honor of someone so the recipient knows what you purchased for them. I think this kind of gift given in someone’s honor motivates them to consider doing the same for the people on their list also.
Heifer International is a great place to go Christmas shopping for many reasons. These are gifts that I think Jesus would want us to buy for others: it supports giving to the poor, showing compassion to others, and are worthwhile, useful purchases. There are no crowds to contend with, no temptations to impulse buy something that may not be needed or well-received, they fill the bill for hard-to-shop-for people and shoppers won’t get burned out listening to Christmas music while shopping.