Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Giving Through Works of Mercy This Advent (Oh, and It's Giving Tuesday)

Rumor has it that it is Giving Tuesday once again. Once again, I have an innate problem with designating one day for us to put on our charitable hats and in our great benevolence bestow our prized attention and gifts upon a source who has won our affection. After Black Friday...and Small Business Saturday...and Cyber Monday. Thank GOODNESS for Giving Tuesday. I mean...what would we do with all our leftover money otherwise??? Just imagine!

All ranting aside, I have been working on an Advent gift-giving series that focuses on places to shop and items to purchase that help us to live out the works of mercy, both spiritual and corporal. Today seems as good as any for the first edition of that guide!

5 Ways to Give Through the Works of Mercy This Advent

1) Purchase some spiritual reading for a prisoner: Faith@Work bookstore in Troy is founded on the works of mercy as a non-profit Catholic bookstore. In the time that it has been open, Faith@Work has donated all profits to local organizations working to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, ransom the captives, instruct the ignorant, and all that jazz. This season, they are giving customers a chance to participate in their works of mercy by purchasing a Christian book for an inmate in the Oakland County (MI) Jails. You can make your purchase online, or go visit the store at 1977 E. Wattles, Troy, MI. If you are local, I highly suggest making the trek in to the store. You'll fall in love. Really. 

2) Purchase a book for a high school Catholic apologetics class: The Hubs teaches at a Catholic high school, and he would like to use a new text for his apologetics class. As school budgets are set and tight, they have given him permission to conduct a "tin cup collection" (as Mark Shea would call it) to allow others to purchase the books as a gift to his class. Yes, it is set up under a baby registry on Amazon right now because the Wifers was too lazy/unmotivated to look beyond the standard registries. No, we are not expecting a third child. Do consider donating to "instruct the ignorant" so they can be formed to share the light and love of our faith with the world as they graduate. [UPDATE: Thank you, thank you, thank you! Because of so many generous donations, including one from Ignatius Press, books have been purchased for the whole class! Thank you!]

Photo from Noonday Collection webpage
3) Shop at Noonday Collection: A friend of mine introduced me to this shop, and I love both the pretties and the purpose. She writes, "As you begin to enter into the next holiday season, please strongly consider giving a gift that gives *twice* this Christmas. Noonday Collection uses fashion and design to create economic opportunity for the vulnerable. When you purchase jewelry or accessories from Noonday you join in supporting 28 artisan groups across 10 countries (think 88,000 family members!) You have the opportunity to treat a loved one to a beautifully handcrafted piece, to honor the artisan's craftsmanship, and to bless an individual, family, and community. This Christmas give...
  • Dignified jobs
  • Sustainable income
  • Long-term trade partnerships
  • Emergency assistance
  • No-interest loans
  • Job training
  • Scholarship programs

Please consider stopping by the shop and supporting their work.

Photo from the Artful Giving website.
4) Make a habit of Artful Giving: This one is a twofer that can be carried on throughout the year. This Advent, why not make it a practice to send a handwritten note of encouragement, love, forgiveness, prayer, etc. to people in your life? Or perhaps you can adopt a pen pal who is elderly, imprisoned, or alone. To make it a twofer, consider purchasing notecards from an organization that gives back to the community like Artful Giving in Arizona. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of their cards and artwork currently go to support UMOM's Child Development Center. UMOM is the largest homeless shelter for families in the state of Arizona. Every night they provide safe shelter and supportive services for over 170 families through their continuum of services. They also offer nearly 300 units of affordable housing across the Valley, each community with Program Centers for residents. 

There are many others out there who are selling their crafts and cards to benefit different charities (if you are in the metro-Detroit area, Faith@Work has cards that benefit Mary's Mantle). Find one that tugs at your heartstrings and watch your heart grow more than the Grinch's this Christmas!

Photo from the PIME USA website.
5) Support the PIME Missionaries: If you are a follower of this blog, you may have seen me write about the PIME Missionaries on occasion. Their North American headquarters are located in Detroit, and we have had the privilege of working with them during our stint in Campus & Young Adult Ministry with the Archdiocese. PIME has several ways for you to participate in the works of mercy through their organization. They have a little shop with items you can purchase, you can sponsor/foster a child, or you can simply make a donation to support the work of missionaries throughout the world, especially in some rather dangerous and troubled areas now. In their most recent publication, Fr. Ken Mazur (the Regional Superior) wrote an article sums up for me the shift in perspective the world so desperately needs. It is not dispensing with our traditions and festivities, but grounding them in their source through prayer. Here is an excerpt which I hope he will not mind me sharing:
"Then the rush begins, the time for the preparations leading to Christmas. Each year in my words, homilies, and letters I always urge us all to take some time to prepare ourselves and our hearts as well as our homes and celebrations for Christmas. Before we realize, it will be upon us. For each present we buy, try to say a short prayer for the person you are buying for. For each cake, cookie or other delicacy you bake, say a short prayer for those who will be enjoying them, and for those who won't be having enough food at Christmas. For each Christmas wreath, tree and decoration you hang, pray another short prayer for our missionaries who are far away from home at Christmas. And as you string the lights inside and out, remember that each one brightly announces the birth of Jesus into our sometimes dark, harsh and hostile world. Don't get caught up in the rush."
Also taken from the PIME USA website. Sorry, Fr. Ken! You know where to find 

That's it for this first edition of the Giving Through Works of Mercy. If you have other shops, organizations, or ways to live out the works of mercy as you shop this holiday season, please let me know.

Happy Advent!

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