The 2020 holiday season may be a memory, but giving to others like we do during the holidays can be enjoyed year-round.
That’s the idea behind ChildFund International’s Real Gifts Catalog. Gift options are based on actual requests from communities that the global nonprofit ChildFund serves. Much-needed and pragmatic items such as mosquito nets, goats, and clean water are among the most popular requests.
“We started the catalog because we got a lot of requests from donors saying they wanted to give gifts, something specific for a specific need,” says the nonprofit’s CEO and president, Anne Lynam Goddard.
ChildFund works in twenty-four countries to help children living in poverty grow up healthy, educated, and safe. This is the tenth year of offering the catalog. In 2019, catalog donors provided families with 377 hand-washing stations, 5,968 bicycles to help students get to school, and 16,431 goats.
In 2020, ChildFund had requests for 386 hand pump wells in thirteen different countries, as well as 16,764 hand-washing stations in nineteen countries. The need for these items continues to climb, especially during the pandemic when items such as hand-washing stations and other COVID-19-related supplies are needed as well as resources to help families weather the devastating economic fallout.
“During COVID, hunger is the real issue because families have lost income. You can feed a family or a child for a month,” says Goddard.
A gift such as a goat can be really powerful. Goats provide nutritious milk and cheese – and because they multiply so quickly, their offspring can be sold for extra income to buy food, shoes, and clothing and meet other urgent needs.
Communities around the word have few “sources of income. Most families are day laborers. Livestock can be a source of income,” Goddard says.
Bintu, a subsistence farmer in Sierra Leone who is raising her three grandchildren, received a goat from the catalog.
“The sale of one goat is enough to get us a large bag of rice to feed the family,” she told the organization.
“When I look at the goats, I see hope,” her 10-year-old granddaughter, Suntu added.
ChildFund buys all of its gifts locally to keep costs down and to help the local economy.
One item that is always needed are bikes, which have an average price of $100.
“A lot of kids have to walk alone to school and that walk can be a couple of miles, Goddard says. “Sometimes girls get pulled out of school because the family doesn’t want them to walk a long way on their own. With a bike, they can ride to school.”
Many families in communities around the world don’t have running water in their homes. “Imagine needing to wash your hands frequently when the closest clean water source is an hour’s walk away,” says Goddard. “Water is a big need.”
Some donors share a pricey item in the catalog such as a bore hole, an expensive deep well. “That can bring water closer to a family so kids aren’t tasked with walking miles for water,” Goddard says.
It doesn’t take a large amount of money to make a difference, she adds. And the generosity of spirit that is present during the holidays can continue all year long. “A little bit of money goes a long way to provide a gift that keeps on giving to a family,” Goddard says.
To give a gift to a family need, go here.