What Would Jesus Buy?

You can make the world a better place this holiday shopping season. Yes, little ole you. You and your little ole checkbook. Here are a few ways how:

You can buy animals for struggling families in developing countries via an organization called Heifer International. Since 1944, Heifer’s been doing solid, significant work that makes a real difference in the quality of life for thousands of people in many countries. Through Heifer, you can buy a cow for $500 or a share of a cow for $50—a cow that will mean 1,460 gallons of milk annually for some family, milk that makes possible daily nutrients we take for granted. For $120, you can buy a dairy goat, a sheep, a pig or a trio of rabbits. Take a look at Catalog.heifer.org.

Another worthy organization is Nothing But Nets. NBN is dedicated to the purchase and dissemination of mosquito nets in Africa because malaria-carrying mosquitoes kill thousands of little kids in Africa every year—kids under 5 years old who are sleeping without protection and getting bitten during the night. For $20, you can save a kid’s life by buying a net. Twenty bucks. We blow that at the car wash, at the liquor store, at the v.p. machine in the bar without a second thought. Many more nets are needed. NothingButNets.net.

Then there’s The Smile Train that rebuilds the faces of children born with cleft lips and cleft palates. Last year, they saved 42,000 faces of kids around the world. Half a surgery costs $125; $250 pays for one complete face-saver. That’s kinda cool, giving a new face to a kid whose dad brings in $150 a year. SmileTrain.org.

Then, there’s Iraq. I’ve written before about the terrible harvest we must be doomed to reap for our staggering misadventure there. Perhaps acts of generosity and mercy can help. They can’t hurt. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to find an agency to donate to. Doctors Without Borders left Iraq in November 2004, due to the horrific insecurity situation, which hasn’t improved one iota in two years. Go to the UNICEF Web site, and you’ll get a chance to click on aid to Somalia, Kenya and the Phillippines. Not Iraq? Then you remember, the U.N. building in Baghdad got blown up a long time ago. So how to help the children of Iraq, inarguably the most desperate children on the planet? There is War Kids Relief. It’s a fund administered by Veterans for America, formerly the Vietnam Veterans for America. They’re right there, in country, trying to help the millions of children in Iraq who’ve been scorched, maimed and traumatized by the Neo-con Nightmare. Go to Veteransforamerica.org, click on Humanitarian, and then War Kids Relief.

Last Christmas, I bought a portable DVD player for my daughter—$220, and she’s used it once, maybe twice in the past year. This year, that money is going instead to some of these organizations. She’ll deal with it. Might even feel good about it. Because, really, WWJB? (What Would Jesus Buy?)