Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Christmas Spirit

In 3 weeks, Christmas will have come and gone, and you'll be putting off taking down the Christmas tree. On at least I will. You're probably still trying to figure out some of your most important gifts to give loved ones.

In the midst of all this, take some time to appreciate what the Christmas season is all about. Whether you are religious or not, you probably celebrate Christmas. This holiday means different things to different people. But, what I've found to be true in nearly all cases, is that it's a time to be with family and friends, and to appreciate what you have.

For many, it's also a time to share what you have with those who have little or nothing. Charities seem to get the largest amounts at this time of the year. People give to Toys for Tots, the Food Bank, the Salvation Army, etc, etc. So, I thought I'd round up my favorite causes for anyone wanting a suggestion.

I'll start with a small charity that I hope becomes a big one. It's called the Bethlehem Christmas Project - bringing Israelis and Palestinians together. I've written about it before, and I think it's an amazing thing. Ali Elhajj, one of the founders, sends updates regularly via Facebook, and here's what I got today:
I’ve done some work to the project's website ( to make it easier to see the trailer and sign-up for updates from us. We’re going to be blogging daily from Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jerusalem, so I wanted to make it easy to get the latest news. If you look on the homepage you’ll see that I also added the latest blog entry there. I thought it would be a nice detail to make the site a little more user-friendly.

We’re heading to Bethlehem on Friday and life has been hectic! Jenni was out last night shopping and wrapping gifts until about 1am. As for me, I slept about 4.5 hours on Monday and worked on the site until about 1am.

Please pray for Jenni, Jonah and I this Friday. We have a 13 hour flight to Tel Aviv; and, if last year was any indicator, I’m sure I’ll be spending some time with Israeli security on the way in (I was born in Lebanon, so I get a little more scrutiny than most). It’s an inconvenience more than anything else. I just want to be able to make it to Bethlehem Bible College and sleep as soon as possible.

Hope you all like the site redesign. I will be writing more soon. By the way, since my first email, we've raised right aound $2000! Thanks for everyone who donated. We have about $2600 to go. I'll keep you all posted.

They have $2,600 to meet their goal. I hope maybe one or two of you will help.

Utah for Obama has placed bins at the new Obama SLC HQ offices to collect items for the Utah Food Bank and Volunteers of America, Utah.

Last year, the Utah Food Bank:
  • Collected and distributed over 18 million pounds of food
  • provided 261 agencies and programs with food
  • Met over 1.2 million emergency food requests
  • Completed 3,596 home repairs for low-income seniors
  • Helped 40 people with disabilities increase their independence

The goal of Volunteers of America, UT is to provide a continuum of services for individuals in need, to foster self-sufficiency and to provide opportunities for volunteer involvement. They:
  • Operate nine programs in Salt Lake, Davis, Tooele, San Juan, Carbon, Grand, and Emery Counties and serve more than 4,000 individuals each year.
  • Are an interdenominational Christian Church that serves people of all faiths and invite the people of all faiths to join in their work.
  • Operate programs in the areas of homeless outreach, substance abuse detoxification and treatment, housing case management and senior services.

If you are coming to the Obama SLC HQ Open House, and have donations for either of these two charities, you can drop them off there.

Of course, another one that's high on my list is the Care Packages for Utah Soldiers program. This ends December 10, so hurry if you're going to contribute! Their site says:
We will be putting together the soldiers’ boxes on Monday 12 November 2007. Volunteers are needed to assemble the care packages at Mesa Systems, Inc. from 9 am until we finish. Volunteers must be at least 13 years old, and should contact Jennie at 801-737-0680 of if they are interested in helping.

Make-A-Wish Foundation of Utah is another good one. It has enriched the lives of children with life-threatening medical conditions through its wish-granting work. It's not specifically Christmas related, but who could resist helping grant one of these wishes, no matter what time of the year? Their web site says:
Your group can add a new twist to a special event, whether a summer picnic or holiday party, by adopting a wish and adding new meaning to your celebration theme.

Upon special request we will be happy to send a representative to share with your organization the Make-A-Wish story you adopted.

The Greater Salt Lake American Red Cross is another place your gift of money or time would be well used.

Do you know of another charity or organization that belongs on this page? Let me know about it in the comments, please.

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