Your Family Can Make a Difference: Choose To Give

The evening news is filled with stories of natural disasters or the ravages of war. Our children are aware that many others just their age are suffering. What can we do to both alleviate that suffering and teach our children compassion? It sometimes seems that any effort we might make is merely a drop in the bucket. But… that really doesn’t matter. It’s like the story of the boy on the beach caught throwing starfish back into the ocean so they wouldn’t die. The observer ridiculed the boy’s efforts saying he’d never get them all back in and what he was doing really didn’t make a difference. His answer: “It makes a difference to the ones I throw back in.”

And that’s the answer. We can’t fix the whole world, but we can impact one person, one family or one village. We can alleviate pain and suffering somewhere for a time, and we can make a difference in that circumstance. We have a choice—to try to help or to ignore the situation. It feels good to try.

There are thousands of organizations around the world dedicated to giving aid. And, there are many ways to help. Here are some of the possibilities. Which way will your family choose to make a difference?

Sponsor a Child

There are many organizations that support the care, feeding and education of children. Sometimes they’re orphans and sometimes they’re just children of families who have moved into care homes when families can’t support them. Increasingly young girls are being rescued from the sex trade and given a chance at a new life in such homes. If you’re interested in supporting a child overseas, be sure to decide whether you’re a one-time supporter or you’re in it for years. Sometimes you’ll receive pictures and letters from the children you support, sometimes not. It’s important to understand that there are many mouths to feed in such homes and the ones who don’t get supported need to eat as well. So your money may go into a fund that supports all. These children grow up or move away at times so be prepared to either select a new child or choose another way to give. Some of the best organizations for child sponsorship are World Vision, Shared Hope International, She Is Safe (formerly Sisters in Service) and Save the Children.

Make Micro-Loans

All around the world women are receiving small seed loans to begin their own businesses or learn how to save and earn interest to better support their families. A loan of only enough money for an American family to go out to dinner will literally change a life in Asia or Africa. Since the beginning of the micro-loan concept, it has been established that they work best for women who tend to have a much higher rate of success and repayment. Loans are taken to begin small sewing or cooking businesses. They’re taken to save for education and for any number of small business ventures. The best-known organization for micro-loans is

Support Medical Projects

Imagine the joy experienced when a person with cataracts has them corrected in a simple operation and they can see again. Or imagine one suffering with infected, rotten teeth who has dental services provided. Often, clinics in other countries are basic hygiene and eye and dental services that we take for granted as normal health care. Giving aid to organizations such as Medical Teams International or Doctors Without Borders is a wonderful way to bring basic healthcare to those who never expect to have it.

Purchase Animals

Providing goats, chickens, pigs and other animals can literally change the life of a family with limited food supply. And when training in animal husbandry is added, the animals can bear young and supply both food and income for generations to come. Heifer International, Practical Presents and Present Aid are three organizations providing such aid.

Community Development Projects

Another way to give to overseas aid projects is to fund organizations doing community development. This may be in the form of digging wells to provide clean water to a community or providing mosquito nets to prevent the spread of malaria. It might be an agricultural project such as growing a healthier form of a grain or introducing a new trade into a community. MCC, the Mennonite Central Committee, does these projects as well as Mercy Corps.

Food/Feeding Programs

When people are hungry there is nothing else on their minds. They can’t improve their job skills, go to school or otherwise get their lives in order. They need food. Hunger Plus Incorporated and Food for the Hungry are two organizations that specialize in distributing food. There are many other organizations that do food distribution in addition to many other projects to benefit the poor and needy.


Perhaps you’re saying to yourself “There are plenty of projects to do right here in my own backyard.” And you’d be right. While the level of poverty tends to be greater in developing nations, there are many needs in our own communities. Maybe you’d like to volunteer in Big Brother or Sister programs or work through local food banks to feed the poor in your own community. There are so many opportunities for your family to give of your time, energy, and money.

Below you’ll find a site to vet non-profit aid organizations and also a great website, Doing Good Together which teaches families how to intentionally live generous lives.


Jan Pierce is a freelance writer and the author of Homegrown Readers and Homegrown Family Fun. Find Jan at

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