Home for the Holidays: Compassion

We could do a daily run of giveaways during Home for the Holidays, but instead we wanted to pepper our week by telling you about some organizations doing remarkable things.

I met Maann on another hot, sweaty day near the equator in the Philippines (her house is shown above). Our group of bloggers had been visiting families and communities impacted by Compassion all week, and the stories were, as you might imagine, heart-poundingly emotional.

Here’s how we’d spend our days: We’d leave the hotel soon after breakfast, and ride on bumpy roads via a chandelier bedecked bus, sometimes for an hour or two. Our mornings were spent at one of many development centers, where Compassion was working in a community. We’d have lunch with those volunteers, spend the afternoons visiting families with sponsored children, return to the hotel for a shower and dinner, and get to clacking on our keyboards long into the night. Rinse and repeat.

We were exhausted.

So by day four, we met Maann and some of her friends, and for me, that’s when it all turned around for me in the Philippines.

They grow up, and their lives are forever changed

Maann was 19. Sponsored through Compassion since she was 6, she was now an articulate, peace-filled university student who was in leadership training. Together with her friends, she was leading weekly meetings at a Child Development Center. Her heart was happy. So happy. Filled with hope.

With her three other girlfriends, they pooled their money and sponsored a child. They. Former Compassion sponsored children, now sponsoring children.

It was awesome.

See, the reason that day changed me was because it gave me hope. The previous days were mightily impacting, but seeing six-year-old after six-year-old sleeping on cardboard was getting hard on my heart.

Maann was tangible, living proof that sponsoring a kid works. Now I’m not saying it’s a guarantee that being sponsored throughout childhood results in a well-adjusted adulthood, but I kept hearing stories that it happened. And here was this 19-year-old, showing me in the flesh what Denise, the child I sponsor, might one day become.

Here’s a video taken from my friend and Philippines roomie Kat. On this day, she visited Emily, another child sponsored by Compassion. Emily lives on the water and eats a regular diet of leaf soup.

How you can help this Christmas

1. Give a gift from Compassion’s Christmas catalog

You can give a simple gift of a blanket, chickens, seeds, a cow, or more for Compassion-assisted children and their families. After you make your selection, you can have a card sent to the person you’re honoring through this gift. This is the Christmas present we give to my in-laws each year. $10 will buy a mosquito net. $100 will provide a skilled attendant at a homebirth.

2. Give a Christmas gift to a Compassion child

For $15, you can give one of the 1.2 million Compassion-assisted children a Christmas gift this year. 100 percent of your donation goes towards the gift.

3. Start sponsoring a child

We’ve had a ball sponsoring Denise—Tate and I each write her monthly letters, and it’s a highlight to get a letter back from her. For 38 bucks a month, Tate gets to grow up with another six-year-old girl on the other side of the world. In a few years, we hope to sponsor boys the same age as our boys, too.

It’s hard to know who’s really receiving the gift when you sponsor a child.

There’s a reason behind living simply—it’s so we can help others simply live. Very few people on my Christmas list actually need anything, yet so many around the world need so much. If we all gave just a little, the burden would lighten.

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.” -Mother Teresa

Learn about the other charities we love:

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. This is so good to read as all of the Christmas chaos begins. I think we’ll write letters and draw pictures and pick a gift out of the catalog for our World Vision friend, Sarah. Today. Thanks for his. Interesting thing, so many people around me lately have an interest/ heart for thePhillipines. Hmmm.

  2. Compassion is such an amazing organization. Thank you for bring us back to reality during what can become an overwhelming and self absorbed time of year.

  3. Thank you so much, Tsh. Sometimes we give money to charity and wonder if it really makes a difference, and you remind us how important it is to focus on each individual who benefits. Every statistic represents a person, a real person who is struggling to survive, and that really helps change my way of thinking.

  4. Thank you for reminding us that every dollar we give actually does touch someone. At Christmas we always try to teach our girls that we need to share our good fortune with others, and this story is a great example of that.

  5. FYI: If your family relies on Amazon wish lists for holiday shopping (like mine does), you can use their universal wish list tool to add items from ANY web site to your wish list. Including the Compassion catalog.

  6. Oh yes. We don’t sponsor a child through Compassion right now and have been focusing on those locally who need help. I’ve been trying to figure out exactly how to help a family we know here locally whose children are in my Sunday School class. They truly need so much and I know we can give. It isn’t changing the world, but it is changing another’s world for the better.

  7. Love Compassion and their work. We started sponsoring Jhadira when she was 4 and our daughter was 4. We are watching them grow up “together” and we will add another little girl to our “family” this year because our youngest is turning 4 mid-December. We hope to visit them both someday and see the work God has done in their lives. Thanks so much for sharing Compassion and their work with your readers!

  8. So thankful that you are posting about Compassion during the giveaway week. Last year I felt overwhelmed by a week of reading about “stuff” (albeit cool stuff, but stuff nonetheless). I think adding the spotlights on organizations which help others makes this week’s reading more in line with the yearly message of simple media. We started sponsoring a little girl through Compassion this summer. I read Too Small to Ignore by Wess Stafford and wanted to sponsor a child. However, reading the blogs by the folks who went to Philippines gave me the extra push to actually take the leap. Thank you! I am eager to learn more about the other organizations featured today… Thanks again and Happy Holidays!

    • Thank you for sharing, Kathy. And yes, that’s exactly the idea behind this year’s Home for the Holidays… sticking to our message of living simply. Winning gifts isn’t wrong, but that’s not even a tiny part of the entire holiday. This year, we wanted to make our message this week more authentic to what we really believe.

  9. I really appreciate being able to research charities on charitynavigator.org to make sure in advance that they are highly likely to use my donation the way they say they will. Thought you’d like to know Compassion is on their Top 10 list of charities with the most consecutive 4-star ratings (excluding universities).

  10. It’s because of your trip & blogging about it that we are now sponsoring Crispin in the Philippines. He is my son’s age and our hope is that by next year they will both be able to write letters to each other. Right now Crispin’s Mom & I do the letter writing, but we get pictures from Crispin.

    Keep Sharing.


  11. You guys are doing great stuff here! I never thought about sending a gift over for christmas. Great idea!

  12. Awesome. Thank you so much for this. Exactly what I needed…

  13. Thank you and thank you. A lovely message and so exactly what Christmas is actually about… redemption and giving and giving thanks. So, thank you again… an antidote to the “black friday” gimme-gimme-more-more attitude that has been so prevalent in the media (and, sadly, throughout our country) of late.

  14. I LOVE this post!! I have a niece with Down’s and she saves change to donate to Compassion. I match her gifts and it’s a project we’ve begun together. I’ve always seen pictures of needy kids but never a results oriented article like this one. You got me fired up!!

  15. Just the reminder we need after black friday and with Christmas wish list season underway. Thank you.

    P.S. I love the new look!

  16. I adopted my son from the Philippines eighteen years ago. I followed the Compassion bloggers trip and knew I needed to sponsor a child from there. I started sponsoring a little boy just last week. Tomorrow is his birthday. Can I tell you how absolutely jazzed I am to know he’s got a sponsor for his birthday? Can I also tell you how absolutely jazzed I am to be able to be a part of the hope?

  17. I have 4 nieces & nephews who are 1, and since 1-year olds need basically… nothing for Christmas I was thinking of getting 4 chickens in their name. I was pretty excited when a relative suggested pooling the money we normally use for a family gift exchange and donating it. Everyone was on board when I mentioned Compassion’s gift catalog, so that’s what we’re doing! We will probably buy a cow or some pigs. I’m thrilled we are making Compassion part of our giving this year!

  18. Wonderful reminder of the true meaning of giving, during this season but also throughout the year. Our three year old daughter loves to write letters, so we had been praying about sponsoring a child for a while and allowing her to be a part of the giving. Thanks to your glowing recommendation and personal story about this organization we just chose a little girl whose birthday is within three days of our daughter’s and are very excited. Thanks for your post and inspiration. And thank GOD you are using your influence to remind others about the least and the lost.

  19. awesome organisation………Thnaks for this posting….

  20. Thanks for taking the time to highlight Compassion. We sponsor several kids through this organization and have loved working alongside them.

    I recently wrote a post on a tangible way to connect with our sponsored kids each week (We call it Rice Night).


    Thanks again.

  21. We sponsor children through World Vision- we have 3 kids and we sponsor 3 kids, in honor of our own (we tried to match ages and gender). We pray for them as a family often. Thanks for the reminder to send an extra gift this Christmas season- World Vision sends a photo of the child with the supplies they were able to purchase with our extra gift and it’s always humbling.

  22. Thanks for sprinkling this in b/w your giveaways. Another reminder not to ask “What do you want for Christmas?” but “What do you give for Christmas?”

  23. Thanks so much for this post. I love the charity christmas catalogs. I am featuring them on my blog this month on tuesdays. It is fun to realize that a small gift can make such a big difference. That is some efficient shopping 🙂

    My gift catalog series is at http://lovingsimpleliving.com/category/simple-compassion/ it just got started yesterday, but I have more coming 🙂

  24. I sponsored 2 Compassion kids for years and then felt I had to stop when I became a stay at home mom. But, after reading about your Compassion trip and a couple of others trips, I have decided to sponsor a child again. I have some money in savings that I’m going to use, as well as money from things I’m selling on eBay (I’m in the process of de-cluttering and making some cash along the way). Thanks for the inspiration!

  25. Thanks for sharing this! Love it.

  26. thanks for this post – I enjoyed reading it

  27. We just signed up to sponsor a little girl from Brazil through Compassion the other evening–although it was heartbreaking to try to choose just one . . . how we wished we could wipe a whole page off of the website by sponsoring a dozen or more! We do hope to add another Compassion child early next year. It’s been on our hearts to do this for a long time, but our church recently did a series of teachings based on “The Hole in Your Gospel” by Rick Stearns (CEO of WorldVision) and we were moved to take action. The little girl we are sponsoring is one of six children being raised by a single mother. We are truly looking forward to developing a relationship with her over time! Our new sponsorship of little Ana is the “big” Christmas gift this year for our family–we can’t think of a better way to celebrate the birth of Christ!

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